History of the Central Otago Economy

The history of business and commerce in Central Otago is unique and ties strongly to the social development of the district.

While there is archaeological evidence that Maori passed through and hunted in Central Otago there is no evidence that they were based here in permanent settlements.

This section is concerned about the development of the Central Otago economy following its settlement by people of European extraction and discusses the development of several of the main sectors.

The history of gold mining and farming has not only left its mark in the historic buildings and townships dotted throughout the district, but also in the sense of place of many people who call ‘Central home. Both industries were affected and fashioned by the need for water, and the efforts that our forebears invested to get it, such as the 100 km long Hawkdun Water Race, are truly impressive.

More recent developments in power generation and viticulture have also made their mark with ubiquitous presences across the landscape.

The District has long been known as a fruit bowl, with Central Otago apricots having a special place in kiwiana. These have been joined more recently by cherries, with local growers setting the standard.

Tourism has always been based around Central Otago’s unique climate and landscape. More recently there have been developments that recognise and celebrate the history of the district. What hasn’t changed is that Central Otago is a destination of choice for people of all ages and interests.

Finally, the many small and medium sized townships dotted through the Central Otago landscape continue to service the needs of the main industries while becoming attractive places to live in their own rights. Building, construction and business services have all become important components of the local economy.
Business Directory
Business Groups & Organisations
There are a range of business groups and organisations in Central Otago for networking, advice and business support. Find out details of when and where they meet and how you can contact them. Read More

Economic Development Strategy
The Economic Development strategy’s key purpose is to help the Central Otago community focus on issues that impact on our economic and social well-being, and to suggest some of the actions we can take over the next few years to address them. Read More
Our Regional Identity - A World of Difference
Our Regional Identity - A World of Difference 'A World of Difference' defines what is uniquely Central Otago as a place and a community. Read More

Central Otago NZ - Through Local Eyes
Central Otago NZ - Through Local Eyes Meet some unique and passionate Central Otago locals and be introduced to their favourite places and activities. Read More

Food & Wine
Food & Wine Central Otago is a place of sheer indulgence – whether it’s fine dining, a casual al-fresco lunch or café culture. You will be spoilt for choice when enjoying local fare and award winning wines at the great selection of cafés, restaurants, cellar doors and country pubs. Read More
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