Relax and enjoy the peaceful beauty of this small, attractive settlement.

Waikawa means "dark or bitter water".

Hills surround the bay making a sheltered haven and peaceful retreat for those who enjoy water activities. Today the port is still partly in existence and pleasure boats and fishermen can be seen there together. A scattering of houses are situated near the harbour and others are nestled on the hillside. On a still, fine evening reflections on the harbour make perfect photographic opportunities.

History - Waikawa was named by Maori who frequented the area in search of food. The sea provided the only access until roads were formed through the heavy bush. Waikawa’s earliest European settlers were the Haldane family who arrived in 1858 and built and operated a sawmill. Waikawa’s port was a busy one during the 1880s and up until the early 1920s when shipping ceased. The district supported whaling, gold mining, stone quarrying, flax milling, pastoral runholding and dairy farming. During the early 1900s the town boasted a hotel, grocery store, bakery, butcher, confectioner, bootmaker and a Post Office.)


  • Accommodation
  • Fishing
  • Waikawa Information Centre and Museum and historic church.
  • The tidal beach is home to a variety of birdlife including godwits which visit annually.
  • Walks including The George Aitken walk and the Old Coach Rd.

Location: 1 hour drive from Invercargill, 1 hour 30 minutes from Balclutha