The Waimate Museum and Archives is housed an impressive collection of 11 historic buildings - including the 1879 courthouse -  that showcase over 100 years of architectural styles.

Waimate Museum and Archives

One of New Zealand’s historic gems, this vibrant museum is unique in that it’s located in the town’s former courthouse. It is home to thousands of items and images telling the stories of Waimate district - from a tiny watch to a traction engine.

The collections include fossils and moa bones, medical equipment from the old Waimate Hospital, horse-drawn farm machinery, and a room full of clocks.

When the courthouse opened in 1879, the only offender that day was ‘an inebriate’ who was acquitted in honour of the occasion. The courthouse closed in 1979, and was converted to a museum by the Waimate Historical Society and Archives. It’s one of the district’s most stylish buildings and attracts hundreds of visitors each year.

The complex includes the 1879 Courthouse, the former police station, jail and stables, and a pioneer cottage that was built of pit-sawn Totara before the bushfire of 1878. There’s a 1912 country school that’s still used to educate youngsters from around South Canterbury, and an earth brick shed that stores part of the huge collection of horse-drawn farm implements.

The district’s ongoing strong connection with tangata whenua is evident also - visitors are greeted by the striking Wahine Statue, which is a relic of the New Zealand International Exhibition held in Christchurch in 1906-07. William Quinn, of Makikihi Brickworks fame, acquired the statue after the exhibition and it was stored in a shed on his property for 60 years before being auctioned. The new owner donated it to the museum.

There’s an excellent archives complex that’s used by researchers and genealogists from around the globe.

This museum provides a good idea about the local heritage of this area. There is an excellent rock and Moa display as well as a large selection of horse drawn vehicles. The court house is a interesting old building. The staff will happily give information and if the door is closed there is a phone number to arrange an opening.

Please note the Court House section of the Museum is currently undergoing repairs due to water damage.  The rest of the Museum is still open.  Download map here.


28 Shearman Street Waimate
P.  03 689 7832
View website

Waimate Museum Hours:

Tuesday to Friday 12.00 noon - 3.00pm
Sundays, Mondays and Public Holidays closed (other times by appointment)

Archives Hours:

By appointment
Tuesday -Thursday 1:30-4pm