March 23 – Otago Anniversary Day

Posted on March 23, 2017

Otago is one of the southernmost regions of the South Pacific nation of New Zealand. 

On this date in 1848, the first ship of Scottish settlers arrived in this region.

The original inhabitants of New Zealand, the Maori, first settled the islands between 1250 and 1300. When Europeans first arrived, in the 1600s, there was some conflict between the Maori and the Europeans, but most interactions were trade. However, once British people began to settle the land, a lot of Maori died from diseases, and Christian missionaries converted most of the Maori to their religion. There have been important gains in social justice and in recovery of traditional Maori culture in the past century.

It seems that, throughout their history on New Zealand, most of the Maori lived on the North Island, even though the South Island is the larger of the two islands. (The South Island still a lot less populous - less than a fourth of the current population of NZ lives on the larger South Island!)

The Scottish people from the Free Church of Scotland who arrived on the John Wickliffe, and on later ships, started the town of Dunedin, and many settled in nearby fertile plains. Gold was soon discovered, and the population quickly expanded with the arrival of fortune-seekers from four continents. For a while there, the gold rushes made Otago one of the cultural and economic centers of New Zealand. Not so much now, but it is big as a NZ wine region, in coal and hydroelectric power, and in tourism.

It's mighty beautiful:

Cathedral Caves 

Tussock grasslands

Above, hike to Mount Aspiring.
Below, the peak of Mount Aspiring.

Lake Wakatipu

The Nuggets, Catlins Coast

Purakaunui Falls

Otago University

Upper Taieri


Also on this date:

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