For a taste of New Zealand small town charm, take a trip inland on the Forgotten Coastal Highway to the town of Kaitangata. Known as “Kai” by locals, it was originally a stopover for local Māori as they travelled the waterways between their various food sources.

The town’s annual Kai Car Show in November welcomes enthusiasts from across the country. The Wild Horse Trek has been running for more than 25 years. Locals and riders take part to check on the infamous herd of 25 wild horses who occupy the local hills, descendants of an original herd bred on a local farm in 1913.

Black gold and coal was the traditional mainstay of the small town’s economy. The community-run Black Gold Museum documents the history of one of New Zealand's oldest coal mining towns. Learn more stories about this close-knit community at the memorial site for the people who died in the mining disaster, which devastated the town in 1879.

Outdoor lovers can enjoy a swing of golf at the Kaitangata Golf Course, walk or mountain bike up the Kai Hills, or enjoy bird watching at Lake Tuakitoto. The Clutha Mouth Anniversary Walk is a great option. It follows the river inland over 1.7 kilometres to the river mouth on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. As the town sits on the edge of the Clutha Mata-au River, the area is also popular for boating, fishing, and seasonal whitebaiting. 

Top 10 things to do in Kaitangata

  1. Take a swing at the Kaitangata Golf Course
  2. Walk or mountain bike through the Kai Hills
  3. Try your luck fishing or whitebaiting (seasonal)
  4. Take the kids to the BMX track or skate park
  5. Walk or cycle around Lake Tuakitoto
  6. Attend the Kai Car Show (in November)
  7. Visit the Kaitangata Black Gold Museum
  8. View the memorial site following the Kaitangata Mining Disaster
  9. Walk the Clutha Mouth Anniversary Trail
  10. Spot one of the 25 wild horses in the Kai Hills

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