Ōtautau is 50 km north-west of Invercargill, in the foothills of the Longwood Range. It was the administrative hub of Wallace county (western Southland) for a century. Ōtautau began as a wagon stop on the Riverton–Wakatipu gold diggings route, in the 1860s and 1870s. Sawmills once processed timber from the Longwood Range, and the township has long served the local farms.

Meaning of place name
Ō: place of; tautau: greenstone ear pendant with a straight shank curved at the lower end.

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