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Otago Region trip planner
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Trip Planner : South Pacific / New Zealand / South Island / Otago Region
Place of Red Earth
New Zealand's second most southerly region, Otago has a diverse climate and varied landscapes, making for a wealth of impressive vistas and natural wonders. Thanks to the region's thick snow and gorgeous sun, an Otago vacation gives you the chance to try a range of extreme sports, relax in lush natural areas, or hike through changing topographies, spotting the wildlife in its plentiful land and marine reserves. With a rich history of tradition and industry, Otago prides itself on its farming heritage, maritime influence, and contemporary role in New Zealand's wine revolution. Make your own Otago Region vacation itinerary, with a little help from those that know the place like the back of their hands, by using our New Zealand online tour planner.
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Top Otago Region tours
Likely to sell out BOOK WITH VIATOR Shotover River Extreme Jet Boat Ride in Queenstown, New Zealand
Tours from $92 ›
BOOK WITH VIATOR Small Group, Award Winning, Full Day Milford Sound Experience from Queenstown
Tours from $160 ›
Likely to sell out BOOK WITH VIATOR Premium Milford Sound Small Group Tour, Cruise & Picnic Lunch from Queenstown
Tours from $160 ›
Likely to sell out BOOK WITH VIATOR Half-Day Milford Sound Flight and Cruise from Queenstown
Tours from $392 ›
Likely to sell out BOOK WITH VIATOR Milford Sound Scenic Fly-Cruise-Fly departing Queenstown
Duration: 4h 30min
Tours from $382 ›
Likely to sell out BOOK WITH VIATOR Central Otago Wine Tour from Queenstown - Includes 4 Vineyards, Lunch & Wine
Duration: 5h 30min
Tours from $144 ›
BOOK WITH VIATOR Milford Sound Day Tour and Cruise from Queenstown
Duration: 12h 30min
Tours from $138 ›
BOOK WITH VIATOR Milford Sound Coach Tour with Lunch from Queenstown
Duration: 12h 30min
Tours from $159 ›
Places to visit in Otago Region
QueenstownTrip planner Best for: Entertainment Center, Nature / Wildlife Tour, Spa DunedinTrip planner Best for: Wildlife Area, Castle, Specialty Museum WanakaTrip planner Best for: Hiking Trail, Entertainment Center, Water Body CardronaTrip planner Best for: Ski Area, Distillery, Nature / Wildlife Tour GibbstonTrip planner Best for: Winery / Vineyard, Brewery, Historic Site
Regions of Otago Region
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Hidden gems in Otago Region
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Where to stay in Otago Region
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Otago Region Holiday Planning GuideNew Zealand's second most southerly region, Otago has a diverse climate and varied landscapes, making for a wealth of impressive vistas and natural wonders. Thanks to the region's thick snow and gorgeous sun, an Otago vacation gives you the chance to try a range of extreme sports, relax in lush natural areas, or hike through changing topographies, spotting the wildlife in its plentiful land and marine reserves. With a rich history of tradition and industry, Otago prides itself on its farming heritage, maritime influence, and contemporary role in New Zealand's wine revolution.
Places to Visit in Otago Region
Destinations in Otago RegionQueenstown: Surrounded by mountain ranges and protected nature reserves, this resort town boasts a wealth of vantage points and numerous chances to enjoy ever-popular snow sports.
Dunedin: The "Edinburgh of the South" offers a blend of natural and cultural Otago Region tourist attractions, including chances to spot some of the world's rarest wildlife, such as the northern royal albatross.
Wanaka: This lakeside resort town promises an action-packed Otago Region holiday, filled with opportunities for snow sports and thrilling water activities.
Oamaru: Surrounded by significant archaeological sites, the largest town in North Otago provides an opportunity to see the distinctive rock art of the Waitaki Valley that dates back to about 1100 CE.
Cromwell: On the confluence of two rivers, the town originally known as "The Junction" was established by gold miners, the legacy of which you can still see in its old town area.
Glenorchy: Thanks to its canyoning, horse riding, mountain biking, boating, skydiving, and skiing opportunities, this small settlement has grown into a popular tourist spot that features on many Otago Region itineraries put together by sports enthusiasts.
Popular Otago Region Tourist AttractionsSkyline Queenstown: In addition to the exhilarating gondola ride to the fir-covered Bob's Peak, the skyline offers luge rides and unbeatable views of the surrounding area.
Queenstown Garden: Home to native and exotic plants, the garden offers relaxing lake and mountain views, as well as chances to play a game of tennis, lawn bowling, or frisbee golf.
Kiwi Birdlife Park: This zoo and wildlife conservation center allows you to experience the uniqueness of New Zealand's nature and see a model Maori village.
Larnach Castle & Gardens: This massive 19th-century building restored to its original splendor and surrounded by gorgeous gardens invites visitors to learn tales of its scandalous history.
Dunedin Railway Station: Displaying an eclectic mix of architectural styles, this photogenic Otago Region attraction serves as a departure point for vintage trains that take travelers through classic New Zealand scenery.
Otago Peninsula: Home to seabirds and other wildlife, including the royal albatross, the peninsula features a number of relaxing beaches and hiking trails which lead to pastures, dunes, and cliffs.
Puzzling World: The world's first 3D maze encompasses puzzles and oddities that range from levitating sculptures to leaning houses.
Moeraki Boulders: One of the most famous natural tourist attractions in Otago Region, these enigmatic rocks of an almost perfect spherical shape have formed over millions of years and weigh up to several tons.
Onsen Hot Pools: The natural setting of the candlelit cedar hot tubs allows you to relax in the pure water while taking in the beauty of the surroundings.
The Royal Albatross Centre: Home to the only albatross colony on inhabited mainland in the world, the center invites you to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Otago Region
Cuisine of Otago RegionA holiday in Otago Region would be incomplete without tasting berries from the Taieri plains, fresh stone fruit and cherries from Central Otago orchards, and some of the region's award-winning pinot noir.
Otago's coastal towns and fishing villages, such as Moeraki, are widely known for their gourmet seafood restaurants and small fish-and-chips shops.
The region's biggest tourist destination, Queenstown offers a wide selection of eateries serving local and international dishes, including Japanese sushi and sashimi, Caribbean cooking, and Mexican tacos.
Slow-cooked lamb with garlic roast potato is another signature dish of Otago Region.
Shopping in Otago RegionHigh-quality knitwear made from Merino wool can be a great reminder of your holiday in Otago Region.
The small town of Clyde is a perfect place to look for the finest wool products. For more wool clothing, sheepskin products, sheep's milk cheeses, and possum fur items, go to Queenstown.
While there, pick up some sweet delights for those back home at The Remarkable Sweet Shop, a family-owned candy store.
A trip to Dunedin provides a more diverse shopping experience at a range of trendy vintage stores and fashion boutiques.
A true shopaholic could spend an entire day browsing for antique treasures, designer handbags, and second-hand jewelry. If you're looking for a more diverse experience, devote at least one Saturday morning to soaking up the sights and sounds at Otago Farmers Market.
Typical Otago Region goodies include natural lavender products, top-notch pinot noir, greenstone jewelry, and kitchen knives crafted by Peter Lorimer, the owner of the smallest department store in New Zealand .
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Otago Region
Interesting Facts About Otago Region* The exact meaning of the old Maori word "Otago" is disputed, but the most common translations include "isolated village" and "place of red earth"
* During the late 19th century, gold rush-era fortune seekers flocked to Otago Region's Shotover River, one of the richest gold-bearing rivers at the time
* Otago Region is home to New Zealand's only castle
* During the filming of Peter Jackson's blockbuster trilogy "The Lord of the Rings," over 500 people lined up daily in front of the casting studios in Queenstown
Holidays & Festivals in Otago RegionCentral Otago observes several seasonal festivals featuring cultural and sporting events--these are in addition to the public holidays celebrated throughout the country.
After New Year, the first important holiday is Anniversary Day (January 17), usually celebrated with horse-jumping shows and contests in sheep shearing, gumboot throwing, and cake baking.
Every even-numbered year, the people of Wanaka celebrate Easter week with air shows.
In late April (only odd-numbered years), Wanaka natives organize the Festival of Color, an exciting biennial of music, theater, dance, and visual arts that lasts five to six days.
At approximately the same time, Arrowtown hosts the Autumn Festival with street parades, scarecrow competitions, kids' workshops, and a market day.
If you happen to be in Queenstown at the end of June, take part in the annual winter festival. These four to ten days of your Otago Region vacation will be filled with food tastings, concerts, and sporting and charity events.
The biggest sporting event in the region, Coast-to-Coast multisport race takes place during the second weekend in February.
Useful Otago Region Travel Tips
Climate of Otago RegionOtago Region's climate changes depending on the vicinity of the ocean and the altitude.
Coastal cities like Dunedin enjoy a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, often cloudy but with low rainfall, and average temperatures ranging from 10 C (50 F) in the winter months (June-August), to 22 C (71 F) in the summer (December-February).
As you move inland on your Otago Region tour, the temperature can get extreme with an increasingly continental climate. Central Otago endures cold and dry winters perfect for winter sports, and hot and dry summers.
In Queenstown, summer temperatures can reach 30 C (86 F), while the coldest recorded winter temperature was −8.4 C (17 F).
Transportation in Otago RegionThere are many modern and quick ways to travel around on your Otago Region holiday, including buses, trains, taxis, rental cars, flights, and ferries.
If you have time for leisurely travel, board a vintage train at Dunedin Railway Station and kick back as it brings you through breathtaking gorges and along the seaside.
You'll also find many off-road tours, some visiting "The Lord of the Rings" filming locations and offering a chance to cross rivers of the Wakatipu Valley in a 4WD vehicle.
Some operators in this area also offer exciting flights over Milford Sound, known for its dramatic scenery and prolific plant and animal life.