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Kiwi towns

What’s so great about Otorohanga: what to do

  • 1 minute

Waikato, North Island

Day trips to Waitomo caves, Hamilton, a Kiwiana celebration of all things New Zealand makes Otorohanga an interesting place to check out

Otorohanga there are plenty of things to do. A town celebrating kiwiana is an amusing place for kids and all age groups. Hokey Pokey ice cream is a favourite with dairy next door to sample the real thing. For lovers of native birds Otorohanga Kiwi House has guided daily tours to spot our elusive kiwis and detailed kids sheets to keep everyone entertained. The town is pretty with a streetscape framed with floral hanging baskets.

Kiwi preservation house and zoo in Otorohanga, New Zealand
Kiwi preservation house and zoo in Otorohanga

What to see in Otorohanga, highlights

  • Kiwiana on steroids, murals, enormous sculptures, statutes and open air art
  • Kiwi House, native bird sanctuary
  • Otorohanga Courthouse Museum

Postcard pretty main street is augmented with the Sir Ed Hillary walk a visual feast of kiwiana objects. Nearby the Otorohanga Historical Society Courthouse Museum, managed by volunteers, has replica buildings and exhibits and is a reservoir of local history. Take a day trip to Kawhai for natural spa treatment at the local hot water beach Te Puia.

Otorohanga fame

  • Kiwiana themed town, where stereotyped icons are creatively reimaged. There is even a certificate acknowledging the town’s status as kiwiana centre in the local council building presented by Sir Ed Hillary and signed by Prime Minister Helen Clark (1990’s).
  • John Ormsby, (Hōne Ōmipi) (1854). His father was European. His mother was of Ngāti Maniapoto. Chairman of the Kāwhia committee, John Ormsby worked on behalf of Ngāti Maniapoto in negotiations with the Native Land Court. A member of Otorohanga District Council.
  • Wahanui Huatare, Ngāti Maniapoto, born (1820s). He was a notable tohunga (Māori spiritual expert) and an influential chief. His negotiations with the European system to protect traditional land ownership ultimately proved unsuccessful. Died in 1897.
@Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park
@Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park
@Kiwi House Otorohanga
@Kiwi House Otorohanga

Otorohanga notoriety

King Country with its nineteenth century history of land wars and dispossession

Where to take the best selfie in Otorohanga

  • Pick your favourite kiwiana icon and start posing
  • Otorohanga Kiwi House
  • Main street with its baskets of hanging flowers

Otorohanga for kids

  • The Sir Edmund Hillary Walkway is amusing to see everyday things, such as hokey pokey ice cream as a huge object. Download the quiz sheet from travel pack information section to make the walk even more fun.
  • Jim Barker Memorial Playground. Otorohanga local who founded a transport company
  • Kiwiana themed 18 hole mini golf course

Festivals in otorohanga

ARTBEAT Otorohanga (summer)

@Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park
@Otorohanga Kiwi Holiday Park
The New Zealand Falcon at Otorohanga, New Zealand.
The New Zealand Falcon at Otorohanga

What makes Otorohanga work?

The main industry is agriculture sheep, beef and dairy farming. There is a growing visitor presence with the Waitomo Caves as well as proximity to Hamilton making Otorohanga a great hub for exploration of the Waikato.

Otorohanga social media

Kiwiana Town

Weather in Otorohanga

Otorohanga, NZ – Current Weather

Best time to go in Otorohanga

Year round

Population in Otorohanga

10,700 (2020)

Be careful in Otorohanga

Waipa River swim guide, check before entering the water. Waipa River at Otorohanga

Judgment on Otorohanga

An excellent hub for a weekend exploring the Waikato. Allow a minimum of half a day to explore kiwiana walk.

Every town adds to the richness of things to do and see. For more details about the region check Hamilton & Waikato Region nearby attractions and events.

Travel pack information

  • Kids kiwiana quiz sheet
  • Meaning of Otorohanga

Ō: food for a journey; torohanga: to cause to extend over a distance. There is a legend of a chief who was on his way to Taupomoana, and chanted incantations that stretched out his meagre supply of food to last the full journey.’ Otorohanga NZHistory online.

  • Where is Otorohanga and its importance to Maori history. The town site in 1822 was the scene of an attack on local Maoris by raiding North Auckland tribesmen, who had recently acquired flintlock muskets. A kahikatea tree in Pine Street stands as a memorial to this encounter. The present town originated as a permanent camp for construction workers engaged in the extension southward of the North Island Main Trunk railway. In the late 1880s, after the discovery of Waitomo Caves by Fred Mace and Tane Tinorau, Otorohanga became the base for the first tourists visiting the caves, 10 miles south-west. The town has been subject to serious flooding which has made necessary the development of a large protection scheme involving diversion cuts and stop-banking. Otorohanga was constituted a town district in 1924, and became a borough on 1 October 1952.” OTOROHANGA – 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand – Te Ara


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