Waikaia started out life as a railway town.
Known as the Waikaia Branch or Switzers branch it was opened in 1909 and operated until 1959.
Today Waikaia is a popular holiday area for locals with many cribs located in the area.
Waikaia is a 45 minute drive from Gore and lies on the edge of the Waikaia river, which is a popular fishing spot
for keen anglers. Popular recreational pursuits in the area include horse riding, trailbike riding, trout fishing,
hunting, walking and four-wheel drive excursions.
Well worth a visit is the Waikaia Forest a mixed beech forest covering some 10,500 hectares of land and is located in the mountains of northern southland. It is the best remaining example of mixed beech forest featuring both the red beech and silver beech trees which covered most of the surrounding area until clearing took place for farming when the settlers arrived. The forest also has two very rare species of tree daisies the Hector’s tree daisy (Olearia hectori) and Olearia fimbriata.
But most intriguing of all are the “natives” that occupy this forest.
The Waikaia Forest is home to the Piano Flat spider (Pianoa isolata). Considered a tuatara of the spider world, the large brown Piano Flat spider is a nocturnal spider and lives among leaf litter and rotting logs on the forest floor.
It hunts by pouncing on victims smaller than itself, rather than building a web.
Other intriguing wildlife in the area includes the very rare fern weevil, a large flightless insect,
and two unique velvet worms who are very ancient in the fossil record and have features of both worms and insects.
Others include the very rare South Island robin, the New Zealand falcon, the New Zealand pigeon,
the yellow-crowned parakeet and the long-tailed bat.
A true treasure trove for wildlife lovers so happy hunting (Still photography only off course!!)