Waikouaiti and Karitane are located half an hours scenic drive from Dunedin City on the East Coast of the South Island. Oral Maori tradition places Waitaha settlement of the area prior to the 15th Century. A Whaling Station was established in 1830 at the Mouth of the Waikouaiti River and then in 1840 Johnny Jones set about establishing the first official agricultural settlement in Otago. In the 1858 Gold Rush, prospectors from all over the world swarmed ashore from Port Waikouaiti.
Today these picturesque townships have magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding farmland. The area is a haven for fishing, surfing, boating, golfing, tramping, horse riding, kayaking, biking, bird and wildlife watching. Many families come into the District during the summer months to enjoy the beaches and the river.
Waikouaiti is a large dormitory suburb of Dunedin, it has a reputation for being a popular place in which to retire, and is popular with weekend visitors to the beach and river. The population has remained stable over the last 10. Waikouaiti has a Community Centre (Events Centre), a primary school with a roll of 90 (2010), fire station, police station, doctors' rooms, library, a, veterinarian, boarding kennels, a golf club, a DCC landfill, rugby club, camping ground, holiday accommodation, fantastic beach, a grassy Domain, a lagoon, river, museum and a racecourse. These contribute to the lives of Waikouaiti's residents, and volunteer working groups that have formed.
Waikouaiti's location on State Highway One contributes to the township's commercial activity. Businesses here include a grocery store, market gardens and horticulture, a bakery, butcher, saddler, hardware store, garages, a fish and chip shop, second hand stores, hotel, a cafe, clothing store, and art gallery. Waikouaiti also has a large egg producing poultry farm. Waikouaiti also serves a service centre for the nearby Oceana Gold Mine.
Karitane is a costal town on the mouth of the Waikouaiti River, and has some commercial sea fishing vessels and a paua farm. It has an important history, including that of the early Maori, whalers, the first white settlers in Otago and Sir Truby King.
Huirapa Marae is the Kai Tahu (Mana Whenua of the area) Marae, which is situated at Puketeraki overlooking Karitane. The marae is very active and contributes a great deal to the community. It is frequently used by groups from outside the area for marae visits.
Karitane has a primary school, a community hall, a small shop, holiday accommodation, a cafe, a swimming beach, and an inlet formed by the Waikouaiti River. There are active community groups in the area, ranging from the Hall Committee to the Fishing Club, to the Waikouaiti/Karitane River Care Group.
WAIKOUAITI AND KARITANE DISTRICT
The Birth Place of Otago POWA is a non profit organisation to benefit the local
community and visitors to the area.