Kaiapoi, North Canterbury’s top river town, is located on S.H.1 just over the broad, shingle-strewn Waimakariri River from Christchurch.
This principal town of the Waimakariri District occupies a strategic position, flanked by the river and fertile farm flats to the west and the great expanse of Pegasus Bay to the east. Few small towns can offer the range of sporting and leisure activities that are available in Kaiapoi.
Fishing is a popular pastime here and it is no idle boast that 8-kilo salmon can be caught in season from the main street. Whitebaiting, kayaking, walking, rowing, water-skiing, golf and bowls are all catered for. Charter boats cruise the Kaiapoi and Waimakariri rivers year round and jet boating on the Waimakariri is legendary. The Beautiful Towns Committee is very active in Kaiapoi and their efforts are reflected in the beautiful parks and gardens. There are riverside pathways, cycling tracks and picnic reserves.
Kaiapoi was named as a misspelling of the Maori word Kaiapohia meaning ‘food depot.’ The Ngai Tahu Pa of Tuarakautahi, known as Kaiapoi, is the most important Maori occupation site in the history of the Waimakariri District. The first European farmers occupied the area in the 1850’s and soon after vast sheep runs were opened up in the inland high country.
The nearby beaches are a wonderful asset for the town. The Pines and Kairaki Beach offer vast stretches of sand and ideal conditions for swimming, surfing, fishing and walking. The nearby Waimakariri River and the extensive tidal flats of the Kaiapoi River, are among the most important natural breeding grounds for fish and wildlife in the South Island.
A top attraction in Kaiapoi is a leisurely chug down the Kaiapoi River to the sea on the MV Tuhoe, a twin-masted, steam-powered schooner. A distillery tour with tastings of fine spirits and liqueurs also finds favour with visitors.
Kaiapoi was once a flourishing port with a reputation for producing high quality woollen goods. It has now developed as a satellite town of Christchurch and commuters make up more than 50% of the town’s population. It is a great place to visit and experience the varied activities on offer.