Once a thriving railway service centre for the Maniototo, Waipiata is steeped in early rail history, and it's only fitting that this little community shares in the huge success of the Otago Central Rail Trail, which sees thousands of cyclists ride at least some of the 152-kilometre trail which runs between Clyde and Middlemarch.
Today, this little settlement (population 50) snoozes through the winter months then bursts into life with the arrival of the spring to welcome the thousands of rail trailers and independent travellers exploring the Central Otago playground through summer and autumn.
Lying about eight kilometres east of Ranfurly, Waipiata is right on the Otago Central Rail Trail and so is Waipiata Motel.
Waipiata sits near one of New Zealand's longest rivers – the 318km Taieri, a watery oasis in the dry heart of Central Otago. The river attracts swimmers, kayakers and fishermen and women because its Maori name means "glistening water".
When the trains ran through Waipiata in the first half of the 20th century, the Waipiata station was the drop-off point for a nearby tuberculosis sanatorium at the base of the Rock and Pillar Range.
The railway's goods shed remains intact near town and a few historic buildings include the library, mudbrick cottages and two churches. The local community still gathers on the bowling green and at the Waipiata Country Hotel.
Waipiata is 51km from Middlemarch, either the start or the finish of the Otago Central Rail Trail.
Distances between settlements on the rail trail:
- Clyde to Alexandra - 8km
- Alexandra to Chatto Creek - 17km
- Chatto Creek to Omakau - 12km
- Omakau to Lauder - 7km
- Lauder to Oturehua - 23km
- Oturehua to Wedderburn - 12km
- Wedderburn to Ranfurly - 13km
- Ranfurly to Waipiata - 8km
- Waipiata to Kokonga - 10.5km
- Kokonga to Hyde - 14.5km
- Hyde to Middlemarch - 27km