Visit the more detailed Switzers Museum page

Waikaia owes much of its history to gold which was discovered here in 1862. At the peak of the rush Switzers (the town’s original name) had a population of around 2,000 including a large number of Chinese miners. Today gold mining is confined to recreational panning in Winding Creek. At Switzers Museum, Waikaia’s heritage is proudly displayed. Adjoining the Museum is the focal point of the town - a bottle house constructed of 20,000 wine bottles.

Summer hours: 

Labour weekend through to Easter

11.00am  - 4.00pm Daily

Winter hours:

1.00pm - 3.00pm Weekends only


 $5 per Adult and free to children under 13. Family passes $50 per year, individual yearly pass $20

Enquiries during opening hours: 020 412 10180 


Office Administrator Shirley Walker 03 2025 020

Archive queries Wendy Williamson 03 2027 809

Email: waikaiamuseum@gmail.com

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The Waikaia River is the major tributary of the Mataura and is a very highly regarded brown trout fishery which is easily accessible. Fishing licenses can be purchased from the Waikaia General Store.


For further information on the Waikaia River, visit this website.

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Try your hand at panning for gold on the Waikaia River, just like the early miners did many years ago. Gold pans are available for hire and sale at the Waikaia Store, Cafe & Post Office, along with gold vials to keep your precious finds safe!

Address: 37 Blaydon Street

Phone: 03 202 7818

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Waikaia Golf Course, Wylam Street, Waikaia is a scenic nine hole alternate tee course.


View 2021 Golf Calender


Secretary (Celia Bowmar): 03 208 7080 


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23 km north of Waikaia


Waikaia Forest (10,500 ha) is a large island of beech forest, nestled in extensive farm and pastoral lands. Piano Flat is a grassy enclosure providing a picnic area, "back to nature" camping ground and several walking tracks.

As a result of the Ngāi Tahu settlement with the Crown, a nohoanga (meaning 'a place to sit') entitlement is located here. This gives Ngāi Tahu people exclusive camping rights to access customary fishing areas and gather other natural resources. This does not affect public access.


Popular recreational pursuits in the area include horse riding, trailbike riding, trout fishing, hunting, walking and four-wheel drive excursions. Several private cribs (holiday homes) are located here.

Waikaia Forest is located in the mountains of northern Southland. Piano Flat is situated at the southern end of Waikaia Forest.


For further information on the activities at Piano Flat and Waikaia Forest, visit the DOC website

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Enjoy the spectacular sights of Southland & Otago from a bird's eye view on one of High Country Helicopters scenic flights. A variety of packages are available. We also offer air charters throughout the South Island, heli-fishing and hunter transport. See our website for full details.

High Country Helicopters, Argyle Station, Piano Flat Rd, RD1, Waikaia

Phone: 03 202 7783 - Office

Visit website  

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Ngahere Ara track - Piano Flat

Time: 30 min return

This is an easy walk leading to mine shafts and an operational water race built in the gold mining days.

Piano Flat Creek Loop track - Piano Flat

Time: 1 hr return

This track passes through beech forest and signs of early sawmilling days.

Waikaia River track - Piano Flat

Time: 4 hr return

This track follows up the true right of the river, crosses a swing bridge and returns along the opposite bank and along the road.

Titan Rocks track - Piano Flat

Time: 7 hr return

A marked route, this rewarding tramp offers excellent views from above the bush line.

Switzers Loop Track and Tunnel Track - Winding Creek Road

Time: 1 hr return for Tunnel Track looping back to road. Situated up Winding Creek Road, car park at the old Switzers Church on hill.

For more information visit the DOC website

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The Masonic Lodge Rooms were built in the early 1930's and in true masonic tradition the building has stood the test of time and is now one of the older buildings that still stands proud in the middle of the Waikaia township.  Movie nights are held one or twice monthly.   Visit the website for the next movie night details, to sign-up for newsletters and to book your seats.

Contact: Jeannie Dyer Phone: 027 294 3700 

Visit website

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The Waikaia School hosts an annual 2 day motorbike ride specifically designed for riders under the age of 16. This event is unique as it offers the riders an opportunity to travel over and through high country not usually open to the public.

Next Trail Ride: 23-24 February 2019

More information on this event 

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There are some lovely paddling and swimming spots along the Waikaia River. It is advised that you check the current water quality before swimming to ensure it is safe. You can do this here

For experienced and keen whitewater enthusiasts there is thrilling kayaking on offer from Canton Bridge to Piano Flat. For more information visit this website. The upper reaches of the Waikaia are rated as grade four to grade five with a 40m drop for every kilometre. 

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Why not make the most of your stay and really get amongst nature with some camping at Piano Flat or the local Waikaia Camping Ground. Piano Flat is a riverside campsite in a farmland area. There are walks and tramps from here or go horse riding, biking, hunting or on 4WD excursions.

More information

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Switzers church is beautifully situated on a hill on Winding Creek Road just a short 5 minutes drive from the Waikaia Township. From here you have a tremendous view point or a delightful picnic/photo spot. It is the beginning of the loop and tunnel track as well as a popular wedding ceremony location. Definitely worth a visit!

For more information on the history of this Church, visit Switzers Museum in the Waikaia Township.