Get your heart pumping as you try New Zealand’s famous adventure sports or relax in the beach towns and wineries of this mountainous South Island region.
Thrilling adventures, gold-mining history, wildlife and viticulture make Otago a major draw card for visitors to the South Island of New Zealand. This is a region of immense natural beauty that ranges from snow-capped mountain peaks and tussock-covered ranges, to glacial lakes, sprawling plains and a coastline with hidden beaches and rugged peninsulas. Otago occupies a southerly section of the South Island and while today the region is a world-famous tourist destination, it maintains close ties with its farming and mining traditions.
Queenstown is the country’s adventure sports capital, set on the banks of Lake Wakatipu in the shadow of mountains such as Ben Lomond and The Remarkables. Explore the lake by kayak and stand-up paddleboard or on fishing tours, jet boat rides and the TSS Earnslaw Steamship. Try bungee jumping, canyoning, skiing and snowboarding along with toboggan-style go-karting. Visit the spellbinding Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, where parts of The Lord of the Rings were filmed.
Bike or drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy to enjoy more outdoor adventures. Find numerous walking trails that lead into Mount Aspiring National Park.
Embark on a journey through New Zealand’s gold-prospecting heritage in the towns of the Central Otago region. Arrowtown, Clyde, Cromwell, Macetown and St. Bathans all reveal parts of the region’s traditional industries. Marvel at the ever-changing scenery while biking along the Otago Central Rail Trail. Stop at tourist-friendly wineries, known internationally for their production of pinot noir.
Travel to Dunedin, a vibrant university city on the region’s east coast. Browse its galleries, admire its colonial architecture and take a tour of the Speight’s Brewery. A short drive from here is the Otago Peninsula, where marine wildlife inhabits beaches, cliffs and coves. Spot royal albatross at Taiaroa Head, yellow-eyed penguins at Sandfly Bay and blue penguins at Pilots Beach.
Beach hop along the Pacific Ocean coastline, stopping at seaside towns along the way. North of Dunedin are Kakanui and Oamaru, with Kaka Point and the remote Papatowai to the south. Don’t miss the bays, caves and waterfalls of The Catlins, a stunning region accessible by the Southern Scenic Route.
Dunedin and Queenstown are the major transport hubs for Otago. The region’s laid-back pace makes exploring by bike and car a pleasurable experience. Alternatively, relax on memorable train journeys such as the Taieri Gorge Railway.