North Otago & the Waitaki District

A short drive north up the coast from Dunedin is North Otago. The Otago coast stretches from the Waitaki River north of Oamaru to the mighty Clutha River south of Dunedin. 


Oamaru is a pleasant coastal town and the main centre in North Otago.

Oamaru became a borough in 1862, and is known for its old buildings and whitestone architecture. While visiting Oamaru you can observe Blue Penguins or visit the home of the famous New Zealand novelist, Janet Frame. If you’re just looking to relax take a friendly stroll around town and explore Oamaru’s old buildings.

North Otago Musuem

The North Otago Musuem has plenty of information on the Waitaka District’s natural environment and cultural heritage. You will find it in the old Athenaeum building.

Oamaru’s Blue Penquins Colony

This is one of New Zealand’s easiest places to view Blue Penguins (Eudyptula minor) at close range. There is an increasing population of around 3000 birds that has grown since the colony was formed in 1993 to protect their health and safety. The only time to get a glimpse of the Blue penguins is at night when they come ashore to reach their nests.

The Waitaki Valley

Turning inland from Oamaru will take you through the Waitaki Valley and the towns of Duntroon, Kurow, Otematata and Omarama. It’s a great place for fishing and holidays.

Along the way you will see New Zealand’s largest earth Dam. This route also provides a more scenic way to connect with Mount Cook or Queenstown via the Lindis Pass.

Omarama New Zealand, Place of Light

For anyone who loves a holiday routine, Omarama is one of those places you just can’t resist going back too, time and time again. Situated in North Otago, Omarama is at a cross roads between heading north towards Christchurch, South towards Oamaru, and inland towards Central Otago.

The township is only a few minutes drive from great fishing and skiing lakes, and also boasts a major local interest in gliding due to favourable local conditions. If you want sun, and I mean sun, and somewhere different from the hustle and bustle of the major holiday spots, then Omarama could be for you. Check it out!

Totara Estate

Totara Estate, on State Highway 1 near Oamaru, is a tribute to a pioneering New Zealand meat industry. Previously a large estate covering 15,000 acres existed with the dream of sending meat to the other side of the world.
Today visitors to Totara Estate will see restored farm buildings and displays detailing a very bold vision which started way back in 1882.


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