North Otago

From Academic Kids

The district of North Otago in New Zealand covers the area of Otago between Shag Point and the Waitaki River, and extends inland to the west as far as the village of Omarama (which has experienced rapid growth as a developing centre for astronomy and for gliding). The large east-coast town of Oamaru serves as North Otago's main centre. The Kakanui range forms the principal cordillera. Prominent rivers include the Shag, the Waianakarua, the Kakanui and the Waitaki.

Other towns and settlements in the region include Alma, Maheno, Kakanui, Herbert (also known as Otepopo), Waianakarua, Hampden, and Moeraki, all close to the coast south of Oamaru.

The coastal plain north of Oamaru has the settlements of Hilderthorpe and Pukeuri.

Inland we find Weston, Ardgowan, Windsor, Five Forks, Peebles, Papakaio, Duntroon, Kurow (on the south bank of the Waitaki) and Otematata.

The area aspired to provincial status in the 19th century, but never attained this. Most of its territory belonged to the Waitaki County, and subsequently to the Waitaki District Council. Some sense of regional identity survives in support of sport, notably the North Otago rugby team. In recent years repeated suggestions that the towns of Omarama and Kurow should become part of Canterbury have tested this sense of identity.

The rolling, tussock-clad hill country of North Otago provides the important agricultural base, particularly through sheep-farming. The generation of hydro-electricity in the Waitaki Valley has also drawn attention to the area (see Project Aqua), and tourism has grown in recent years.

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