Tourism Waitaki is the regional tourism organisation (RTO) that promotes and markets the Waitaki District as a sustainable visitor destination, and achieves this through marketing campaigns, trade shows and industry events, media famils and PR opportunities.

Tourism Waitaki works with local businesses, including tourism operators, the hospitality industry, accommodation providers, and retailers to promote the region as a one of a kind destination that offers visitors products, stories, and experiences they’ll be talking about for years to come.

Tourism Waitaki showcases the region offshore, with the assistance of Tourism New Zealand, to further establish Waitaki as a desirable destination to trade agents.

Alongside local event organisers, Tourism Waitaki helps to promote regional events that drive higher visitation.

Under the guidance of MBIE, Tourism Waitaki facilitates the development of the Waitaki Destination Management Strategy and Plan, which involves managing all aspects of the Waitaki that contribute to a visitor’s experience while meeting the needs and expectations of residents, Mana Whenua, government, and visitors.

We are committed to the development of Waitaki as a destination on the global stage.

To contact us about marketing and advertising, please email Philippa –

Story Ideas

Check out these story angles for inspiration: 

Slow Travel

With stunning geological landscapes from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, diverse visitor experiences, unique small towns, luxury accommodation options, to those visitors on a budget, the Waitaki District is the perfect slow travel destination. Slow travel will change traveller’s holiday mindset from being checklist driven to one where folks find themselves connecting to the Waitaki, the culture, the geo-gastronomy, the natural environment, and the locals. A slow and curious immersion can mean renting a historic homestead for a week or two and exploring the surroundings by foot or car, or it can mean a bike tour cycling the entire Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail across several days. Whichever way, its recommended to add an extra day or two to totally absorb the wonders on offer in the Waitaki.

Check out our itineraries here.

Hidden Gems

The Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring Geopark wants to be discovered, and with so much on offer the region continuously delivers in unexpected ways! Home to many hidden geological, cultural & heritage gems, which may have been missed on a first visit here. Visitors can enjoy the long and quiet stretch of golden beach at All Day Bay in Kākānui and hit the surf there. Travellers who want to get off the grid will want to explore the Ōtematata Wetlands, Ōhau Snow Fields, and the Ōamaru Public Gardens.

Check out our nature & wildlife here.

Family Fun

There’s no shortage of family friendly activities in the Waitaki for kids of all ages, and abilities, from interactive museum Steampunk HQ and Whitestone City, to watching the penguins come ashore from a hard days fishing at the Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony. Then there’s the beaches, the playgrounds, and the lakes. 

Food & Wine

Casa Nova HouseAs a part of the Waitaki’s bid to become a UNESCO recognised Global Geopark there is a goal to tell the story of the region through taste, showing how the land, soil, and water make the produce unique.

Visitors can eat their way through the district, dine on fresh seafood, sample handcrafted artisan cheese, and raise a glass of homegrown grapes or crafted beers to celebrate this fantastical feast. Travellers will revel in a geo-gastronomy experience of award-winning cuisine at Riverstone Kitchen, Cucina, Casa Nova and Restaurant 1861.

View all here.


The Waitaki offers the world class Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, the jewel in the crown of the 22 Great Rides, the longest in New Zealand spanning 316km from the foot of Aoraki Mt Cook or Lake Tekapo in the Mackenzie District, which is recognised as a Dark Sky Reserve, to the Pacific Ocean in the Waitaki District, New Zealand’s first aspiring Geopark.

Cycle the whole journey over the course of 4-7 days or simply enjoy a day excursion.

Biking across the district on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail visitors will travel through high country tussock lands, through small towns, past patchwork farmland, and lakesides down to the Pacific Ocean at Ōamaru’s historical harbour—a wonderful way to experience the Waitaki and all carbon free!

View all biking options here


Whether visitors are after a romantic getaway, corporate escape, or one-of-a-kind trip, the Waitaki has authentic luxury experiences from scenic flights that show the best views in New Zealand to unique, eclectic, and indulgent accommodation.

Discover our luxury stays in the Waitaki.


The Waitaki is steeped in Maori and early European settler history. With the best preserved Victorian streetscape in New Zealand, ancient Maori rock art, art spaces, and museums the history and heritage here is all around and accessible.

Discover here.

Arts, culture, and events

The Waitaki is a sprawling land of natural beauty so it’s little wonder artists, creatives, and dreamers are drawn to the district. There are a mix of fine art spaces, galleries, and unique events like Steampunk NZ Festival that inspire both locals and visitors alike. Ōamaru is home to the beautifully preserved Forrester Gallery, art critics won’t be disappointed with the depth of creativity.

View all events here.

The Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring Global Geopark

Discover the aspiring Waitaki Whitestone Geopark, a story of ancient New Zealand (Zealandia) a land that reveals limestone landscapes, fossils of an ancient marine world, extinct volcanoes, braided rivers, and major awe-inspiring landforms.

Nowhere else in New Zealand can visitors see the geological timeline of the ancient continent Zealandia’s formation in such a defined area.

Photographers' dream

Golden tussock, rolling hills, turquoise lakes and otherworldly landscapes—the Waitaki District is a photographer’s dream. These dramatic scenes aren’t a once and you’re done experience, your experience, views, and enjoyment will change as our stunning vistas are lit up by the morning sun or fall under moody skies and transform with the clear and sparkling nights we have here. With a beguiling combination of natural landscapes, rural small towns and Victorian architecture on offer you’ll feel yourself being inspired like never before. Here’s a brief showcase of what the Waitaki can offer. If you’d like to use these photos or others please email us at and remember to credit Tourism Waitaki.

Filming in the Waitaki

Film tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the industry with travellers flocking to locations that show up in their favourite TV shows and films looking for authentic connection.
The Waitaki has inspired prominent filmmakers from Jane Campion to Andrew Adamson with it’s possibility. There are sets around every corner from dramatic, otherworldly natural formations to Ōamaru’s Victorian Precinct. 

Ōamaru’s Victorian Precinct has featured in commercials and Hollywood films including Mr. Pip, and the upcoming Netflix movies The Power of the Dog starring Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch, and The Royal Treatment.

The blockbuster Mulan utilised Ahuriri Valley as Mulan’s training camp and also filmed at the iconic Clay Cliffs in Ōmārama.

Elephant Rocks and Anatini were featured in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as Aslan’s camp. During the shoot there were around 600 people on these sets. Local farmers even moved their stock away 8 months prior, so the grass was lush and natural during filming.

If you’re a filmmaker looking for locations that eyeballs have yet to see on the big screen, get in contact with Film Otago Southland who will help facilitate permits and help with the red tape. Be sure to also look into permits you may need from DOC.

Media Famils

The phrase ‘seeing is believing’ rings true for a reason, and what we’ve got here in the Waitaki really has to be experienced. Media famils are a brilliant way for travel writers and journalists to enjoy the variety in the Waitaki, including what’s new and the hidden gems. And we love seeing the positive stories following our famils spread far and wide. If you’d like to have a chat about a famil to the Waitaki District, why not say hello? Email

The Waitaki District Fact Sheet

  • For tourism statistics about the Waitaki District access the Accommodation Data Programme and the Tourism Electronic Card Transactions (TECTs).

    The ADP collects a small amount of data from accommodation providers each month, collates it, and then publishes reports that can be used to benchmark performance and monitor the industry.

    The Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates (MRTEs) provide an estimate of regional monthly expenditure on tourism from both international and domestic consumers.

  • The Waitaki District has a land area of 7,4502km; the only territorial authority in the South Island of New Zealand that straddles the border between two regions (Canterbury and Otago).

    A major reason for the divide across two regions was the governance of the Waitaki River, which forms a political boundary between Canterbury and Otago. With major hydro schemes on this river, it was decided to place the entire catchment in one administrative region, thus forming the split.

  • The population of the Waitaki District is 23,200 (June 2020), which is 0.5% of NZ’s total population.
  • Ōamaru (pronounced awe-ah-mah-roo) is the only town in the Waitaki District with a population greater than 1,000 people. It’s home to 13,700 people.

    Ōamaru is the steampunk capital of the world and New Zealand’s most welcoming town.

  • Other settlements in the Waitaki District include (but are not limited to): Ōhau, Omarama, Benmore, Ōtemātata, Kurow, Duntroon, Ngāpara, Enfield, Kākānui, Herbert, Hampden, Moeraki, Dunback, Macraes, Palmerston, and Weston.
    View all of our destinations here.

    NB: While the use of macrons in Ngāpara and Kākānui are unofficial Linz recommends the usage.
  • The Waitaki is the large, braided river that drains Te Manahuna (the Mackenzie Basin) and enters Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean) on the east coast of Te Waipounamu. The name Waitaki literally means “the waterway of tears” and is often referred to as representing the tears of Aoraki. The river was an important traditional travel route, providing direct access to the rich inland mahinga kai resources of Te Manahuna and Central Otago. The use of mōkihi is strongly associated with the Waitaki and is one of the few places where this traditional practice continues today.

    NB: Sourced from

  • The Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring Global Geopark is the first Geopark in New Zealand. A Geopark is the UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) designation that gives world-wide status to a defined area of international geological significance which tells the story of how the geology and landscape has shaped the lives of its inhabitants, be they people, animals, or plants.

    Geosites include (but are not limited to): Paritea (Clay Cliffs), Maerewhenua rock art site, Waipata (Earthquakes), Anatini, Elephant Rocks, Valley of the Whales, Matakaea (Shag Point), and the Moeraki Boulders.

The Waitaki District is also home to:

  • The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail—known as the “jewel in the crown of the 22 Great Rides” is New Zealand’s longest single cycling trail at 316km.
  • Macraes Gold Mine—the country’s largest active gold producing mine, having produced over 5 million ounces of gold since 1990.
  • The birthplace of New Zealand’s social security system.
  • Rainbow Confectionery—the largest confectionery manufacturer of scale in New Zealand.
  • Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony—selected twice as a finalist in the NZ Tourism Awards for its success in environmental protection and research.
  • Benmore Dam—with a generating capacity of 540 megawatts (720,000hp), Benmore Station is the second largest hydro station in New Zealand behind Manapouri, and the largest earth dam in New Zealand.