Otago (/əˈtɑːɡoʊ, oʊ-, ɒ-/; New
Zealand [əˈtɐːɡɐʉ̯] ( listen)) is a region of
New Zealand in the south of the
South Island administered by the Otago
Regional Council. It has an area of approximately 32,000 square
kilometres (12,000 sq mi), making it the country's third
largest local government region. Its population was 224,200 in June
The name "Otago" is an old Māori southern dialect word (the North
Island dialect equivalent is "Otakou"), introduced to the south by
Europeans in the 1840s. The exact meaning of the term is disputed,
with common translations being "isolated village" and "place of red
earth", the latter referring to the reddish-ochre clay which is common
in the area around Dunedin. "Otago" is also the old name of the
European settlement on the
Otago Harbour, established by the Weller
Brothers in 1831, which lies close to the modern harbourside community
of Otakou. The place later became the focus of the
an offshoot of the Free Church of Scotland, notable for its
high-minded adoption of the principle that ordinary people, not the
landowner, should choose the ministers.
Major centres include
Dunedin (the principal city),
famous by Janet Frame), Balclutha, Alexandra, and the major tourist
centres Queenstown and Wanaka. Kaitangata in
South Otago is a
prominent source of coal. The Waitaki and Clutha rivers provide much
of the country's hydroelectric power. Some parts of the area
originally covered by
Otago Province are now administered by either
Canterbury Regional Council
Canterbury Regional Council or Southland Regional Council.
Central Otago wine region
Central Otago wine region produces award-winning wines made from
varieties such as the Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot
Riesling grapes. It has an increasing reputation as New
Pinot noir region.
5.1 Local government
5.2 Parliamentary representation
7 See also
9 External links
Main article: History of Otago
Otago settlement, an outgrowth of the Free Church of Scotland,
materialised in March 1848 with the arrival of the first two immigrant
Greenock on the Firth of Clyde—the John Wickliffe and the
Philip Laing. Captain William Cargill, a veteran of the Peninsular
War, was the secular leader:
Otago citizens subsequently elected him
to the office of provincial Superintendent after the New Zealand
provinces were created in 1853. The
Otago Province was the whole of
New Zealand from the
Waitaki River south, including Stewart Island and
the sub-Antarctic islands. It included the territory of the later
Southland Province and also the much more extensive lands of the
modern Southland Region.
Arrowtown, a historic mining town
Initial settlement was concentrated on the port and city, then
expanded, notably to the south-west, where the fertile Taieri Plains
offered good farmland. The 1860s saw rapid commercial expansion after
Gabriel Read discovered gold at
Gabriel's Gully near Lawrence, and the
Central Otago goldrush
Central Otago goldrush ensued. Veterans of goldfields in California
and Australia, plus many other fortune-seekers from Europe, North
America and China, poured into the then Province of Otago, eroding its
Presbyterian character. Further gold discoveries at Clyde and
on the Arrow River around
Arrowtown led to a boom, and
for a period the cultural and economic centre of New Zealand. New
Zealand's first daily newspaper, the
Otago Daily Times, originally
edited by Julius Vogel, dates from this period.
The University of Otago, New Zealand's oldest university
New Zealand's first university, the University of Otago, was founded
in 1869 as the provincial university in Dunedin.
The Province of Southland separated from
Otago Province and set up its
own Provincial Council at
Invercargill in 1861. After difficulties
Otago re-absorbed it in 1870. Its territory is included in the
southern region of the old
Otago Province which is named after it and
is now the territory of the Southland region.
The provincial governments were abolished in 1876 when the Abolition
of the Provinces Act came into force on 1 November 1876, and were
replaced by other forms of local authority, including counties. Two in
Otago were named after the Scottish independence heroes Wallace and
Bruce. From this time the national limelight gradually shifted
Aerial photo of Beaumont area in Otago, looking southwest. State
Highway 8 runs from left to right across the photo (only visible in
the right half), and crosses the
Clutha River just below centre.
Mount Aspiring / Tititea
Mount Aspiring / Tititea is New Zealand's highest mountain outside the
Aoraki / Mount Cook
Aoraki / Mount Cook region.
Beginning in the west, the geography of
Otago consists of high alpine
mountains. The highest peak in
Otago is Mount Aspiring / Tititea,
which is on the Main Divide. From the high mountains the rivers
discharge into large glacial lakes. In this part of
activity - both recent and very old - dominates the landscape, with
large 'U' shaped valleys and rivers which have high sediment loads.
River flows also vary dramatically, with large flood flows occurring
after heavy rain. Lakes Wakatipu, Wanaka, and Hawea form the sources
of the Clutha, the largest river (by discharge) in New Zealand. The
Clutha flows generally to the southeast through
Otago and discharges
near Balclutha. The river has been used for hydroelectric power
generation, with large dams at Clyde and Roxburgh. The traditional
northern boundary of the region, the Waitaki River, is also heavily
utilised for hydroelectricity, though the region's current official
boundaries put much of that river's catchment in Canterbury.
Kawarau Gorge, where Roaring Meg joins the Kawarau River, in central
The country's fourth-longest river, the Taieri, also has both its
source and outflow in Otago, rising from rough hill country and
following a broad horseshoe-shaped path, north, then east, and finally
southeast, before reaching the Pacific Ocean. Along its course it
forms two notable geographic features — the broad high valley of the
Strath-Taieri in its upper reaches, and the fertile
Taieri Plains as
it approaches the ocean.
Travelling east from the mountains, the
Central Otago drylands
predominate. These are
Canterbury-Otago tussock grasslands
Canterbury-Otago tussock grasslands dominated
by the block mountains, upthrust schist mountains. In contrast to
Canterbury, where the Northwest winds blow across the plains without
Otago the block mountains impede and dilute the
effects of the Nor'wester.
Central Otago centres, such as Alexandra and Cromwell, are
found in the intermontane basins between the block mountains. The
schist bedrock influence extends to the eastern part of Otago, where
remnant volcanics mark its edge. The remains of the most spectacular
of these are the Miocene volcanics centred on
Elsewhere, basalt outcrops can be found along the coast and at other
Comparatively similar terrain exists in the high plateau land of the
Maniototo Plain, which lies to the east of Central Otago, close to the
upper reaches of the Taieri River. This area is sparsely populated,
but of historical note for its importance during the Central Otago
Gold Rush of the 1860s. The townships of Ranfurly and Naseby lie in
In the southeastern corner of
Otago lies The Catlins, an area of rough
hill country which geologically forms part of the Murihiku terrane, an
accretion which extends inland through the
Hokonui Hills in the
Southland region. This itself forms part of a larger system known as
the Southland Syncline, which links to similar formations in Nelson
(offset by the Alpine Fault) and even in New Caledonia, 3,500 km
(2,200 mi) away.
The Catlins ranges are strike ridges composed
Jurassic sandstones, mudstones and other related
sedimentary rocks, often with a high incidence of feldspar. Fossils of
the late and middle
Triassic Warepan and Kaihikuan stages are found in
Weather conditions vary enormously across Otago, but can be broken
into two broad types: the coastal climate of the coastal regions and
the more continental climate of the interior.
Coastal regions of
Otago are subject to the alternating warm and
dry/cool and wet weather patterns common to the interannual Southern
oscillation. The Southern Hemisphere storm track produces an irregular
short cycle of weather which repeats roughly every week, with three or
four days of fine weather followed by three or four days of cooler,
damp conditions. Drier conditions are often the result of the
northwesterly föhn wind, which dries as it crosses the Southern Alps.
Wetter air is the result of approaching low-pressure systems which
sweep fronts over the country from the southwest. A common variant in
this pattern is the centring of a stationary low-pressure zone to the
southeast of the country, resulting in long-lasting cool, wet
conditions. These have been responsible for several notable historical
floods, such as the "hundred year floods" of October 1878 and October
Typically, winters are cool and wet in the extreme south areas and
snow can fall and settle to sea level in winter, especially in the
hills and plains of South Otago. More Central and Northern Coastal
areas winter is sunnier and drier. Summers, by contrast, tend to be
warm and dry, with temperatures often reaching the high 20s and low
Central Otago cold frosty winters are succeeded by hot dry summers.
Central Otago's climate is the closest approximation to a continental
climate anywhere in New Zealand. This climate is part of the reason
Central Otago vineyards are successful in this region. This inland
region is one of the driest regions in the country, sheltered from
prevailing rain-bearing weather conditions by the high mountains to
the west and hills of the south. Summers can be hot, with temperatures
often approaching or exceeding 30 degrees Celsius; winters, by
contrast, are often bitterly cold - the township of Ranfurly in
Central Otago holds the New Zealand record for lowest temperature with
a reading of -25.6 °C on 18 July 1903.
A map showing population density in the
Otago Region at the 2006
The population of
Otago is 224,200, which is approximately 4.7
percent of New Zealand’s total population of 4.8 million. About 53.6
percent of the population resides in the
Dunedin urban area—the
region’s main city and the country’s sixth largest urban area. For
historical and geographical reasons,
Dunedin is usually regarded as
one of New Zealand's four main centres. Unlike other southern centres,
Dunedin’s population has not declined since the 1970s, largely due
to the presence of the
University of Otago
University of Otago — and especially its
medical school — which attracts students from all over New Zealand
Other significant urban centres in
Otago with populations over 1,000
include: Queenstown, Oamaru, Wanaka, Port Chalmers, Cromwell,
Alexandra, Balclutha, Milton and Mosgiel. Between 1996 and 2006, the
population of the
Queenstown Lakes District
Queenstown Lakes District grew by 60% due to the
region’s booming tourism industry.
Urban areas in Otago
% of region
Mosgiel and Port Chalmers.
Largest groups of overseas-born residents
Approximately 80% of the region’s population is of European lineage
with the majority being of Scottish stock—the descendants of early
Scottish settlers from the early 19th century. Other well-represented
European groups include those of English, Irish, and Dutch descent.
Maori comprise approximately 7% of the population with a large
proportion being from the
Ngāi Tahu iwi or tribe. Other significant
ethnic minorities include Asians, Pacific Islanders, Africans, Latin
Americans and Middle Easterners. Otago's early waves of
settlement, especially during and immediately after the gold rush of
the 1860s, included a substantial minority of southern (Guangdong)
Chinese settlers, and a smaller but also prominent number of people
from Lebanon. The region's Jewish population also experienced a
small influx at this time. The early and middle years of the twentieth
century saw smaller influxes of immigrants from several mainland
European countries, most notably the Netherlands.
Around 46.2 percent of Otago's population affiliate with Christianity
and 3.2 percent affiliate with non-Christian religions, while 48.3
percent are irreligious. In line with the region's Scottish heritage,
Presbyterianism is the largest Christian denomination with 17.1
percent affiliating, while Catholicism is the second-largest
denomination with 11.5 percent affiliating
The seat of the
Otago Regional Council
Otago Regional Council is in Dunedin.
There are five territorial authorities in Otago:
Central Otago District
Otago is represented by four parliamentary electorates.
nearby towns are represented by the
Dunedin North electorate, held by
David Clark, and the
Dunedin South electorate, occupied by Clare
Curran. Both MPs are members of the governing Labour Party, and
Dunedin has traditionally been a Labour stronghold. Since 2008 the
Otago has been divided between the large rural electorates of
Waitaki, which also includes some of the neighbouring Canterbury
Region, and Clutha-Southland, which also includes most of the rural
part of the neighbouring Southland Region. The Waitaki electorate has
traditionally been a National Party stronghold and is currently held
by Jacqui Dean. The
Clutha-Southland electorate, also a National Party
stronghold, is currently held by Todd Barclay. The earlier Otago
electorate existed from 1978 to 2008, when it was split and merged
into Waitaki and Clutha-Southland.
One list MP is based in
Michael Woodhouse of the National
Party. One-time Labour Party Deputy Leader David Parker is a former MP
Otago electorate and currently a list MP.
Māori seats system,
Otago is also part of the large Te Tai
Tonga electorate, which covers the entire
South Island and surrounding
islands, and is currently held by Labour Party MP Rino Tirikatene.
Otago has a mixed economy.
Dunedin is home to manufacturing,
publishing and technology-based industries. Rural economies have been
reinvigorated in the 1990s and 2000s: in Clutha district, farms have
been converted from sheep to more lucrative dairying. Vineyards and
wineries have been developed in the
Central Otago wine region. The
GDP of the
Otago region was estimated at US$5.411 billion
in 2003, 4% of New Zealand's national GDP.
Otago Central Rail Trail
Otago Rugby Football Union
Otago Rugby Football Union
^ a b c d "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2017
(provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24
October 2017. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates
(UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-16 (2017
boundary)". Statistics New Zealand. 24 October 2017. Retrieved 24
^ Jones, Daniel (2003) , Peter Roach, James Hartmann and Jane
Setter, eds., English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, ISBN 3-12-539683-2 CS1 maint: Uses editors
^ "About the
Otago Regional Council.
^ Peter Entwisle, Behold the Moon: The European Occupation of the
Dunedin District 1770-1848, Dunedin, NZ: Port Daniel Press, 1998
(ISBN 0-473-05591-0), appendix 1 pp.136-139.
Central Otago wine success at home and abroad". 2006-11-11.
^ New Zealand Provinces 1848-77
^ Heads, Michael (1989). Integrating earth and life sciences in New
Zealand natural history: the parallel arcs model, New Zealand Journal
of Zoology 16, 549–585.
^ Mckinnon, Malcolm (17 August 2009). "
Otago region: Population and
employment since 1920". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved
^ Mckinnon, Malcolm (19 August 2009). "
Otago region: Overview". Te Ara
Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
^ "2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity – Birthplace
and people born overseas". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 23
^ "Birthplace (detailed), for the census usually resident population
count, 2001, 2006, and 2013 (RC, TA) – NZ.Stat". Statistics New
Zealand. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
^ "QuickStats About Otago: Cultural Diversity". Statistics New
Zealand. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
^ "Story: Middle Eastern peoples". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New
^ "2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity – data tables".
Statistics New Zealand. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 2 February
2016. Note some percentages may not add to 100 percent as people
could give multiple responses or object to answering.
^ "Regional Gross Domestic Product". Statistics New Zealand. 2007.
Archived from the original on 20 May 2010. Retrieved 18 February
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Otago.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Otago Regional Council
Regions of New Zealand
Bay of Plenty
* Governed by a unitary authority rather than a regional council
Coordinates: 45°53′S 170°30′E / 45.883°S 170.500°E