Olearia coriacea is an evergreen, erect or spreading, sparing to much-branched shrub growing to 6.5–10 ft (2–3 m) high. The leathery, saddle-shaped oval leaves are 0.5–0.8 in (1.2–2 cm) long, with wavy edges. The daisy flowers are carried in somewhat open heads, summer.
Olearia coriacea is found locally in lowland to mountain shrubland, in Marlborough and Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. It resembles a smaller Olearia paniculata.