Otago is a region of New Zealand in the south of the South Island administered by the Otago Regional Council. It has an area of approximately , making it the country's third largest local government region. Its population was
The name "Otago" is an old southern Maori word whose North Island dialect equivalent is "Otakou", introduced to the south by Europeans in the 1840s. The exact meaning of the term is disputed, with common translations being "isolated village" and "place of red earth", the latter referring to the reddish-ochre clay which is common in the area around Dunedin. "Otago" is also the old name of the European settlement on the Otago Harbour, established by the Weller Brothers in 1831, which lies close to the modern harbourside community of Otakou. The place later became the focus of the Otago Association, an offshoot of the Free Church of Scotland, notable for its high-minded adoption of the principle that ordinary people, not the landowner, should choose the ministers.
Major centres include Dunedin (the principal city), Oamaru (made famous by Janet Frame), Balclutha, Alexandra, and the major tourist centres Queenstown and Wanaka. Kaitangata in South Otago is a prominent source of coal. The Waitaki and Clutha rivers provide much of the country's hydroelectric power. Some parts of the area originally covered by Otago Province are now administered as part of Southland Region.
New Zealand's first university, the University of Otago, was founded in 1869 as the provincial university in Dunedin.
The Central Otago wine region produces award winning wines made from varieties such as the Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Merlot, and Riesling grapes. It has an increasing reputation as New Zealand’s leading Pinot noir region.