Places of Otago

There are many places that are significant to Otago | Ōtākau. Find out about the histories of these places.

1920s photo of Princes Street, Dunedin. The Bank of New Zealand, Stock Exchange and Dunedin Post Office are on the right.

Image: Princes Street, Dunedin by Sydney Charles Smith. Collection: Alexander Turnbull Library.

Which places can I learn about?

Here are some places in Otago you could find out about:

Ōtākou Marae

Ōtākou Marae
Found near the end of the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin.

Find out about Ōtākou Marae
Otago harbour

Otago harbour
Traditionally important as a food source for the Ōtākau people.

Find out about the Otago harbour
Cadbury Chocolate factory

Cadbury Chocolate factory
Started as a biscuit factory by Richard Hudson.

Find out about the Cadbury's factory
Chinese Settlement

Chinese Settlement
The partially restored Arrowtown Chinese Settlement sits on a tributary of the Arrow River.

Find out about the Arrowtown Chinese Settlement
Larnach Castle

Larnach Castle
Started in 1871 by William Larnach, merchant baron and politician.

Find out about Larnach Castle

Lawrence is on the highway into Central Otago. It is 3 kilometres from Gabriel Gully, where gold was discovered in 1861.

Find out about Lawrence

Tips: These are just some examples of places you could research. You may have somewhere different you're interested in finding out about. Just use the place name as your search terms in the resources below.

Otago resources

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about the history of places in Otago.

Te Rūnanga o Ōtākau

This is the site of the Hapū at Ōtākau. It has information about their histories including biographies.

  • Go to History and Stories.

  • Choose a story you're interested in.

Kā Huru Manu

The Ngāi Tahu (Kāi Tahu) Cultural Mapping project records and maps the traditional Māori Place names and histories in the Ngāi Tahu rohe (tribal area).

  • Select View the Atlas.

  • Enter an address or place name in the search bar.

  • Select a feature on the map to get more information about that place.

  • Look at the References for each place for where you can find more information.

Toitū Otago Settlers Museum

This museum is dedicated telling the stories of the people of Dunedin, New Zealand's first great city, and the surrounding area of Otago.

  • Find the museum at 31 Queens Garden in Dunedin.

  • Open daily 10am-5pm.

  • The Research Centre is found at the museum and can be accessed during opening hours.

  • You can research the past using OASES and digital sources from New Zealand and overseas.

Otago Museum

The Otago Museum shares the cultural, natural and scientific stories of Dunedin, Ōtakau Otago and Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Find the museum at 419 Great King Street.

  • Open daily 10am-5pm.

  • Find the Southern Land, Southern People Gallery on Level 2.

  • Or go to the Tāngata Whenua Gallery on Level 1.

Otago Museum Online Collections

This is a collection of items the Otago Museum has made available online.

  • Enter your keyword in the search bar.

  • Select an item to find out more about it.

Otago Museum taoka digitisation project

One of the largest collections of Southern Māori taoka/taonga (treasure).

  • Enter a keyword to search the collection, or

  • browse the collection by Momo taoka | Featured categories.

He Purapura Marara | Scattered Seeds

This collection has been put together by Dunedin Public Libraries. It includes photos, documents, audio and more.

  • Enter a place as a keyword to search.

  • Then select an item to find out more.

  • Or, browse by selecting Places or Groups.

  • Choose a place to find related items.

Tips: Collections with memories, mementos and stories can be good for looking at how things have continued or changed over time. Remember, stories can be told in different ways so it’s helpful to look at multiple information sources to find different perspectives.

Clutha Heritage

This website comes from Clutha District Libraries and other Clutha community groups. It includes images, documents, video, audio and more.

  • Enter a keyword in the search bar.

  • Or browse by selecting a collection or type of resource eg images.

Culture Waitaki

This is an online collection of photographs, artworks, social history items and more. The items come from the Waitaki Musuem and Archive and the Forrester Gallery.

  • Enter a keyword in the search bar.

  • Or choose a collection to browse eg Our Land or Ōamaru Harbour.

  • Select an item to find out more.

Hocken Snapshop

An online collection of photographs from the Hocken Library that focusses on Aotearoa's people and places.

  • Enter the name of a place in the search bar and choose an item to take a closer look.

  • Or browse by selecting a name or letter under Browse our collection.

Tips: Primary sources like photographs are useful for gathering information about people’s values and attitudes about a topic from that time.

Larnach Castle & Gardens

This is the official site of Larnach Castle in Dunedin. It has information about its history.

General New Zealand resources

These websites have good information about the history of New Zealand including Otago.

Visit Heritage New Zealand

Contains heritage treasures from past generations from throughout the Otago region that can be visited in person.

  • Go to Toro | Visit and choose Otago.

  • Choose a place.

  • To find more information about that place go to Menu and then Introduction.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

The Encyclopedia of New Zealand provides an in depth guide to our environment, history, culture and society. It consists of a series of topic based sections.

  • Enter your keyword into the search box at the top of any page.

  • Results will come from throughout the site and may include text and images.

  • Or choose the section called Places.

  • Choose Otago to explore stories.

Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Rārangi Kōrero | New Zealand Heritage List

The New Zealand Heritage List | Rārangi Kōrero tells us about significant heritage places. It has information about historic places, areas, wāhi tūpuna, and wāhi tapu and areas. Includes protected goldmining and archaeological sites related to Māori.

  • Enter a name, address, or keyword in the search box.

  • Or you can browse by choosing the Otago Region in the Region drop down menu.

  • Select an entry to find out more.


New Zealand History is a great website to use when searching for information about events, people and places in New Zealand's past. The website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so we know the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Enter your keyword in the search box at the top of the page.

  • Or select Places to find Otago.

  • Then select a town, lake, or place to find out about its histories.


DigitalNZ searches online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites in one place. It groups results by the type of information and has lots of primary sources.

  • Enter your keywords in the search box.

  • Then select from the range of formats like images, videos, newspapers, articles or manuscripts.

  • You can also filter by choosing from the red tabs such as decades and date range.

Tips: Before searching it can be useful to come up with a list of words to use. These are sometimes called keywords. They can be the name of a person, place, or event you are researching.

Department of Conservation (DOC)

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is the government website about preserving the natural and historical places of New Zealand. You can see it’s a government site by looking at the About us or Contact links at the top of the page.

  • Go to Our Work and select Heritage.

  • Then choose Explore heritage sites by region.

  • Select Otago.

  • Choose a place to find out about.

ManatuTaonga - YouTube

This is the official YouTube channel for Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage. It create audio guides for road trips across New Zealand that tells the stories of places along the way.

Tips: When watching videos on YouTube, it's important to check that the information is coming from a trusted source. We know these videos will be well-researched and reliable because they come from Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage.


Here are a few books about general Otago history for you to look for at your school or local library.

SCIS no: 5496528

More about Otago

People of Otago

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Otago.

Learn about people of Otago

Events of Otago

Many things have happened that have had an impact on Otago. The following resources explore these events and can offer some different perspectives.

Learn about events of Otago