Otago

New Zealand
Otago showing mountains, a small town or village and a lake or waterhole
Mountains, rivers, valleys and beaches are in abundance in this diverse region, which has been shaped by its gold mining and European settler history.

Otago is one of the most popular regions of New Zealand’s South Island due to its buzzing cities, adventure sports and stunning landscapes. It is also home to large colonies of seabirds and penguins, as well as boasting a rich heritage of gold mining and Scottish cultural influences. Allow plenty of time to properly explore this large and varied region.

Visit the vibrant university city of Dunedin, known for its Scottish heritage. Marvel at the gorgeous architecture of the Dunedin Railway Station, the First Church of Otago and the Law Courts. Ride the bus to St. Clair for a swim in the outdoor hot saltwater pool.

Drive out to the Otago Peninsula to view colonies of blue penguins, sea lions and albatross. The Penguin Place, a reserve that is home to a colony of yellow-eyed penguins, can be found here. Take a tour around the Royal Albatross Centre to learn more about these regal seabirds and watch interactive displays. Head to Pilots Beach at dusk to see little blue penguins, one of the world’s smallest penguins, scurrying up the beach to their nests.

In Queenstown, Enjoy a range of outdoor adventure sports, such as bungee jumping, jet boating, skydiving, river rafting and skiing in the winter. Kayak across Lake Wanaka, surrounded by the peaks of the Southern Alps. Wander around Arrowtown, a living historic settlement that was established during the gold rush.

Go curling at the indoor rink in Naseby, where the winter sport was introduced over 130 years ago by Scottish gold miners. Sample some local pinot noir at one of the many wineries in Bannockburn and Cromwell.

Fly into Christchurch Airport and then take a connecting flight to Dunedin or ride the clean and efficient public buses. Rent a car to explore the best of Otago’s scenery and the peninsula. Visit during spring or fall for warm weather and fewer crowds.

Whether you love adventure sports, scenic walks, relaxing on a beach or delving into local history, Otago has something for you to enjoy.

Popular cities in Otago

Larnach Castle showing a castle and street scenes
Dunedin
Known for Historical, Gardens and Museums
With heritage architecture, buzzing nightlife and a pristine coastline, New Zealand’s “Edinburgh of the South” is a seaside city for all seasons.

Reasons to visit

  • Larnach Castle
  • The Octagon
  • Dunedin Town Hall
Queenstown
Queenstown
Known for Lakes, Mountains and Scenery
It's no accident that this city is the birthplace of both bungy jumping and jet boating – if you're looking for adventure, Queenstown is the perfect place for you.

Reasons to visit

  • Skyline Queenstown
  • Kiwi and Birdlife Park
  • Queenstown Gardens
Oamaru showing street scenes and heritage architecture
Oamaru
Known for Cheese, Museums and Art
Relive the grandeur of Victorian-era prosperity and come face-to-face with waddling penguins as you explore North Otago’s largest town.

Reasons to visit

  • Steampunk HQ
  • Oamaru Harbour
  • Oamaru Victorian Heritage Precinct
Lake Hawea showing a lake or waterhole and mountains
Wanaka
Known for Lakes, Dining and Family-friendly
Nestled beneath a mountainous national park on the shores of beautiful Lake Wanaka, this resort town offers skiing in winter, water sports in summer and stunning scenery all year.

Reasons to visit

  • Warbirds & Wheels
  • Puzzling World
  • Wanaka Lavender Farm
Kawarau Suspension Bridge which includes mountains, a river or creek and landscape views
Gibbston
Known for Wineries, Friendly people and Relaxing
Known as the “Valley of the Vines,” beautiful Gibbston is a playground for extreme sports enthusiasts and a delight for wine lovers.

Reasons to visit

  • AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping
  • Kawarau Suspension Bridge
Arrowtown showing a small town or village and street scenes
Arrowtown
Known for Golf, Tours and Rivers
Ever dreamt of striking gold? A day trip to this authentic mining town gives you the chance to do just that.