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Toward the south end of the South Island the region of Otago covers a variety of diverse environments; mountains, open plains, glacier-fed rivers and remote white sandy beaches. Otago is New Zealand's most inland region; also the hottest, coldest and driest region.
Dunedin is Otago's only city and is home to New Zealand's only castle, Larnach Castle. It is also where Baldwin Street can be found, the world's steepest street. Of the 123,000 population in Dunedin, 25,000 are students. Enjoy the laid back atmosphere that is symbolic of Central Otago.
Overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Otago Peninsula you can find the Royal Albatross Centre and breeding colony offering you the amazing and unique opportunity of seeing these splendid seabirds up close. The Otago Peninsula is home to New Zealand Fur Seals, rare Hooker's Sea Lions, rare Stewart Island Shag, Yellow-eyed Penguins and Little Blue Penguins.
The Otago Settlers Museum displays the area's heritage from the days of the first settlers or join the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trail and visit picturesque historic gold mining towns that recreate the life of early settlers. The dry climate and history enthusiasts have preserved the miners' legacy of mud and stone buildings, fascinating machinery, golden sluiced cliffs, underground passages and deep mine shafts.
Taieri Gorge Railway offers a marvelous chance to experience the diverse scenery of Otago. Departing from New Zealand's most photographed building, the historic Railway Station in Dunedin, the train journeys through the rugged and spectacular Taieri River Gorge, across wrought iron viaducts, through hand-carved tunnels to Middlemarch or Pukerangi.
Otago Central Rail Trail is a 151km tourist bike trail winding through stunning scenery, gold mining history and a myriad of vineyards. Suitable for most people with a reasonable level of fitness the trail goes through impressive mountain ranges, valleys and plains and crosses awe-inspiring viaducts. For those of you seeking thrills, the Alexandra / Clyde district is home to some the best mountain biking terrain in New Zealand.
During the winter the Manorburn Dam in Alexandra freezes sufficiently to skate on. Ice hockey, skating and curling are well catered for at the Alexandra artificial ice rink.