Settlement situated on the north bank of the Waiau River on the inland road to Kaikōura, 23 km north-east of Culverden. Waiau made the classic rural Canterbury shift from accommodation house to township. The river was bridged in 1883. In 1919 Waiau became the terminus of the branch railway from Waipara (now closed), but by then it had been eclipsed by Culverden. It has survived as a rural service centre.

Meaning of place name
Wai: water; au: current (River of swirling currents). In Māori tradition, this river, Waiau-uha, is the female lover of the male Waiau-toa (the Clarence River). At first they are close together, but their paths separate. When Waiau-uha grieves for her lover, her tears melt the snow at the source of the river and cause floods.

Images and media for waiau