This area begins south of the Waitaki River and extends west and south to
include Central Otago, Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown, and Lake Wanaka - all
areas that attract visitors in their thousands. Otago's chief urban centre
is the city of Dunedin, founded by Scottish settlers in 1848. The first
settlers planned to farm the land. Then gold was discovered in Central
Otago in 1861 and resulted in Dunedin becoming very prosperous. When the
gold ran out fruit farming became the mainstay of Central Otago, but now
vineyards and tourist centres vie with fruit growing in the area.
Wanaka draws visitors for its beauty, for boating, walking, tramping and
climbing and in the winter for skiing on the Cardrona and Treble Cone
skifields. The headquarters for Mount Aspiring National Park is in Wanaka.
It is also the starting point for the Haast Pass Road to the West Coast.
Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu has highly developed tourism programmes, from
trips on the old Steamer, "Earnslaw", to jet boating, white water rafting,
bungy jumping, and tramping. Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu and
Arrowtown a short distance from Queenstown both attract many tourists.
Glenorchy is the gateway to the Routeburn Track, a three-day tramp across
the Harris Saddle to the Te Anau-Milford Road.
The famous autumn colours on the trees in Central Otago, especially at Lake
Hayes, attract photographers every year.
Of the smaller Otago towns Oamaru on State Highway One is well known
especially for its whitestone buildings, and its penguin colony.
The mighty Clutha River is in Otago and the Clyde Dam and the Roxburgh
power station were built on the river, amid much opposition because of the
fertile land that was flooded to build it.
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