Waikaia is 15 km north of Riversdale. The first visitors were Māori hunting moa on the tussocklands of the Garvie Mountains and Old Man Range. Gold discoveries further up the valley in 1862 brought a rambunctious town, known then as Switzers, with hotels, dancing halls and gambling dens. The last productive claim was King Solomon’s Mine, which closed in 1937. A rail line operated from 1909 to 1959.

Meaning of place name
According to some authorities the name is contracted from Wai-o-Whakea, wai: water; o: of; Whakaea; but others have stated that it was originally Waikea or Waikeha, and that the name was given by the explorer Rakaihautu because of the keha (burrs) that grew on the river bank

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