THE OTAGO REGION
In 1848 the Otago Harbour saw the arrival of the John Wickliffe and the Philip Laing, two ships that were carrying 340 colonists from Scotland. Another 12,500 immigrants arrived during the 1850s, most of them Presbyterian Scots who brought their families to an what for a time was the smallest settlement in the country. The discovery of gold in 1861, brought massive change. A total of 256 ships arrived that year and the town developed into what was described as a 'bustling, rowdy, raffish outpost of the goldfields'. Commerce thrived and Dunedin developed rapidly, adding distinctive architecture to its natural beauty. Dunedin had become New Zealand’s largest and most influential centre, with a population in 1874 that was significantly larger than Auckland's. Leading architects from around the country as well as overseas were drawn to the city and Dunedin’s schools were the best in the country. Dunedin had the first university in New Zealand and the first cable operated tramway outside the United States. Cable cars ran up into the suburbs in the hills while trams ran south to ‘the Flat’. Many grand buildings were erected and today Dunedin has the most interesting collection of Edwardian and Victorian architecture of any New Zealand city, with numerous stately homes reflecting the aspirations of miners who retired to the city once they had struck it rich. A strong Scottish influence is still evident in the city which possesses the only kilt store in the country as well as boasting a statue of the poet Robbie Burns, that presides over the Octagon in the heart of Dunedin. Today Dunedin is a university city with a large academic population fostering its special character. Surrounded by hills, Dunedin's harbour is one of the regions finest assets, renowned for its marine wildlife and magnificent natural setting.
To the north lies Oamaru, with its graceful white stone buildings that were a pleasing sight to nineteenth century sailors, who called it 'the white lady by the sea'. By the 1870s the bustling port had become a gateway for entrepreneurs who were busy exporting produce from the rich stations of North Otago. The city remains a gateway to North as well as inland to Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country. Today Central Otago is one of the most frequently travelled regions in the South Island, with beautiful scenic highways leading through the high country to the mountain resorts. Set amongst the majestic Eyre Mountains and the snow-capped line of peaks that make up the dramatic line of mountain peaks known as the Remarkables, Queenstown is the most popular of the mountain resorts, occupying one of New Zealand's most scenic locations on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. This is New Zealand’s 'adventure capital', with a multitude of attractions including bungy jumping, white-water rafting, parapenting and jet boating adventures, all set in the magnificent scenic locations.
was the discovery of gold in 1862 at Arrowtown that brought the first prospectors to the Queenstown area, while several smaller strikes occurred other localities nearby including St Bathans, Hogburn and Mt lda. Queenstown became established quickly as a port for sailing vessels and paddle steamers, crossing the lake with supplies, as well as carrying out gold to the send of the lake and then via Kingston further south. Today you can still take a trip out on the lake on a historic steamer or head off on a tour to the famous Shotover River which earned a reputation as the 'richest river in the world' during the early days of the goldrush. Get rich quick stories continued to fuel the rush of prospectors to the area, but by the early 1900s, sightseers were also arriving in increasing numbers. Today there are many reminders of those gold-crazed days, preserved by the dry Central Otago climate which has helped keep many of the mud and stone buildings, old mining equipment, mine shafts and tunnels intact. These relics tell the story of the toil and hardships faced by those who sought to make their fortunes in gold. Modern-day Queenstown is the tourist centre of the area and has become a Mecca for visitors who come to experience the spectacular scenery, to go skiing and snowboarding, rafting, paragliding, hiking as well as participating in any one of a number of other outdoor adventure activities.