Kurow is in the upper Waitaki River valley, 68 km north-west of Ōamaru. The town is near a bridge over the river which connects it with the Hakataramea River valley in South Canterbury. The population ballooned in the 1920s due to the construction of the Waitaki dam, which was completed in 1935.

Meaning of place name
The name is a version of Te Kohurau, meaning many mists.

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