New Zealand's second largest region

Otago accounts for 5% of NZ’s economy in employment terms. Its household incomes are lower than the national average, but its employment rate is above the national average. These factors relate to the very high proportion of tertiary students in Dunedin city, some of whom work part-time, and the significant presence of seasonal labour in other parts of the region.

Half of Otago’s population live in Dunedin, which provides services to the surrounding region as well as national health and education services. Other districts each have different specialisations, including hydro-electric power generation, tourism, sheep and beef farming, gold and silver mining, horticulture and wine making. Port Chalmers is the third largest port in New Zealand based on the value of exported goods, reflecting a high value of commodities, particularly meat and dairy products, and manufactured goods produced across the region.

a booming economy

While the region’s overall population is projected to grow only slowly in the coming decades, Queenstown and Central Otago are amongst the fastest growing sub-regions in New Zealand, in both population and economic terms.

Otago has a range of areas of comparative advantage that it can build on. The University of Otago is NZ’s most research-intensive university and the key generator of the region’s high per capita patent applications. The University and other tertiary institutions are key to meeting the skills and innovation needs of various sectors in the regional economy.