Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Otago Peninsula is a very long, rugged indented finger of land that forms the easternmost part of Dunedin, New Zealand. The peninsula lies due east of Otago Harbour, and runs parallel to the mainland for 30 kilometres. Its maximum width is 12 kilometres. It is joined to the mainland at the south-west end by a narrow isthmus a little over 1 kilometre in width.
At its western end, the Otago Peninsula is suburban, containing several of Dunedin's inner suburbs (such as Vauxhall and Shiel Hill). For much of its length, however, only the strip adjacent to the Otago Harbour is heavily populated, with several small communities dotting its length. Largest of these are Macandrew Bay, Portobello, and Otakou, which was the site of the first permanent European settlement on the Harbour, and the site of an early whaling station.
Much of the remainder of the peninsula is steep hill country, with the highest points being Mt. Charles (400 metres), Harbour Cone, and Sandymount. Two tidal inlets dominate the Pacific coast of the peninsula, Hoopers Inlet and Papanui Inlet. Between them is the headland of Cape Saunders. Nearby natural features include the 250 metre high cliffs of Lovers' Leap and The Chasm.
At the entrance to the Otago Harbour the peninsula rises to Taiaroa Head, noted for the only breeding colony of the royal albatross colony to be found on an inhabited mainland. The viewing centre for the albatross colony is one of the peninsula's main ecotourism attractions, along with other wildlife such as seals and penguins.
Other tourist attractions on the peninsula include Larnach Castle, a restored Armstrong 'disappearing' gun coastal defence post, and a war memorial tower. Impressive views of the city and surrounding country can be gained from Highcliff Road, which runs across the spine of the peninsula.
Dann, C. & Peat, N. (1989). Dunedin, North and South Otago. Wellington, NZ: GP Books. ISBN 0-477-01438-0.
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