Oh what a weekend!

In Waimate we know that Labour weekend is approaching as we see race barriers set up around the inner streets of Waimate. And we’re left in no doubt Labour weekend has arrived as we wake to the sounds of the engines roaring and tyres squealing!

The McKeown Petroleum Waimate 50 motorsport festival is an event like no other with a mix of entertaining street racing from the fastest lap attack cars, historic race cars, D1NZ's best drift cars and after party functions.   All of which makes a fantastic weekend for the thousands of people who descend on Waimate for this annual motorsport showcase.

It's one of only a few remaining 'around the houses' street races in the world. Most other races like this stopped a long time ago due to new safety rules, and the effort required to stage them.  We are lucky to have a small but determined group of people working very hard to keep this unique event alive for our District, and on the annual NZ racing circuit.

The ‘Waimate 50’ began with the inaugural street race held on the 31 January 1959. Waimate’s wide streets, central location and a council fully behind the event meant it was the perfect place to host the New Zealand Championship event. Thousands of people packed the Waimate streets looking for the best vantage points possible.

The feature race was the ‘Waimate 50’ being 50 laps of the 1.3 mile circuit that navigates its way through the central business area of the small South Canterbury town. Many renowned drivers of the day featured in this race, most notably a young Bruce McLaren who would go on to win the first ever Waimate 50.

Today’s event brings in between $650,000 to $1 million to the region.  Racing fans pour into the area, with approximately 90% of spectators from out of town.  It’s an event we can’t take for granted given the huge cost to stage it, and the rules and regulations around the event. 

Held on Saturday and Sunday over Labour weekend, with racing 'round the houses’.   Live bands fill the atmosphere in friendly, after racing functions. And, where only in Waimate, you’re able to get alongside your favourite drivers and teams.

Head to the Waimate 50 website to buy tickets and plan your weekend.


This amazing event relies on sponsorship and hard working volunteers.  If you are interested in helping with sponsoring an event you can download the sponsors document here.  Or if you have any questions, or want to help out, get in touch with the team via email.

eventKate O'Connell