Otago Province

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Otago Province
Otago in New Zealand (1861).svg
Otago Province within New Zealand
Country New Zealand
Island South Island
Named for Māori: Ōtākou
Seat Dunedin

The Otago Province was a province of New Zealand until the abolition of provincial government in 1876. The capital of the province was Dunedin. Southland Province split from Otago in 1861, but became part of the province again in 1870.


Area and history

Otago Province was one of the six original provinces established in New Zealand in 1853. It covered the lower third of the South Island. Its northern neighbour was the Canterbury Province, and the boundary was the Waitaki River from the Pacific Ocean to its source in the Southern Alps, and from there a straight line to Awarua Bay (now known as Big Bay) on the west coast. [1] The inland area of the Waitaki catchment was unexplored in 1853 and dispute later arose over which branch of the Waitaki should form the boundary. The boundary was delineated in 1861 as following the Ohau River to Lake Ohau and from there a straight line to Mount Aspiring and Awarua Bay. [1]

Southland Province split from Otago in 1861, but became part of the province again in 1870. [1] All the New Zealand provinces were abolished at the end of 1876.

Anniversary Day

New Zealand law provides an anniversary day for each province. Otago Anniversary Day is a public holiday each year on the Monday nearest to 23 March. [2]


The Otago Province had five Superintendents: [3]

126 Dec 1853Dec 1859 William Cargill
23 Jan 18606 Mar 1861 James Macandrew
317 May 186115 Apr 1863 John Richardson
416 Apr 186323 Jun 1865 John Hyde Harris
54 Aug 1865 [4] 26 Feb 1867 Thomas Dick
27 Feb 18671 Jan 1877James Macandrew (2nd time)


The Province built the Port Chalmers Branch under the auspices of the Dunedin and Port Chalmers Railway Company Limited, and was built to the recently adopted national track gauge of 1067 mm (3 feet 6 inches), and it was the first line in the country with that gauge to open, on 1 January 1873. The first locomotive to run on the line was the E class Josephine, a double Fairlie steam locomotive, whose local popularity ensured she was retained beyond her retirement from service on the railways in 1917 and is preserved today in the Otago Settlers Museum in Dunedin.

When the Southland province amalgamated with Otago in 1870, the latter acquired the former province's railways - which were built to the standard gauge of 1,435 mm (4 feet 8.5 inches).


See also

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  1. 1 2 3 McLintock, A. H., ed. (23 April 2009) [First published in 1966]. "Otago Province or Provincial District". An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand . Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga . Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  2. "Otago Anniversary Day 2023, 2024 and 2025".
  3. "Provinces 1848-77". Rulers.org. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  4. "The Superintendency". Otago Witness . No. 714. 5 August 1865. p. 11. Retrieved 23 May 2012.

45°27′51″S169°52′11″E / 45.46412°S 169.86977°E / -45.46412; 169.86977