Central Otago known in simple terms as "Central" is the inland part of Otago in the South Island, including both the Central Otago District and the Queenstown-Lakes District to the west. Also considered part of Central Otago are the wide flat plateau of the Maniototo lying between the upper reaches of the Taieri River and the Clutha's northern tributary the Manuherikia.
Dominated by mountain ranges and the upper reaches of the Clutha River and its tributaries, the area is characterised by cold winters and hot, dry summers. The discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully near Lawrence in 1861 brought the first significant European occupation.
Most of the area's economic activity has centred on sheep, stone fruit, and tourism, while recent years have seen economic diversification into deer farms and vineyards, with Central Otago the world's southernmost commercial wine production region. Especially suitable are the cool climate varieties, Riesling and Pinot Noir.
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