Alexandra, New Zealand

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Manuherikia or Areketanara (Māori)
Alexandra is located in New Zealand
Coordinates: 45°14′57″S 169°22′47″E / 45.24917°S 169.37972°E / -45.24917; 169.37972Coordinates: 45°14′57″S 169°22′47″E / 45.24917°S 169.37972°E / -45.24917; 169.37972
CountryNew Zealand
Territorial authorityCentral Otago District
 • Total9.76 km2 (3.77 sq mi)
 (June 2018)[1]
 • Total5,510
 • Density560/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
Local iwiNgāi Tahu

Alexandra (Māori: Manuherikia[2][3] or Areketanara[4]) is a town in the Central Otago district of the South Island of New Zealand. It is located on the banks of the Clutha River (at the confluence of the Manuherikia River), on State Highway 8, 188 kilometres (117 mi) by road from Dunedin and 33 kilometres (21 mi) south of Cromwell.

At the time of the 2013 census, the permanent population was 4,800, a decrease of 24 since 2006. 27.1 per cent of the population (higher than the national average) was aged over 65.[5]


The town was founded during the Central Otago goldrush in the 1860s, and was named after Alexandra of Denmark by John Aitken Connell who surveyed the town. Originally referred to as "Alexandra South" to distinguish it from a North Island town in the King Country with the same name, the word "South" was dropped in 1867 after that North Island town was renamed to Pirongia.[6] It was known to miners of the day by several names: the "Lower Township", the "Junction Township", and "Manuherikia".[7] (The "Upper Township" was Dunstan, now Clyde.)

Many orchards were destroyed in the 1980s as a result of construction, 10 km upriver, of the Clyde High Dam, which is the country's third largest hydroelectric power station.


The 1958 steel truss arch bridge carrying State Highway 8 across the Clutha River at Alexandra

Alexandra is the service centre for a significant stone-fruit industry, which is celebrated by a blossom festival in the town each spring. Grape production is another major industry in the Central Otago Wine Region. Alexandra has the world's southernmost vineyard, Black Ridge.

The town is a popular holiday destination mainly due to the hot and sunny climate during summer.

Alexandra is perhaps best known for the Alexandra Blossom Festival, an annual event that began in 1957. The Festival celebrates the advent of Spring in the Central Otago District as evidenced by the blooming of the fruit trees.

Alexandra has had two bridges crossing the Clutha River, the current one opening in 1958.

The Alexandra Aerodrome is Alexandra's only airport. SPANZ, NAC and Mount Cook Airlines were main users of the airport till the 1980s. It is home to the Central Otago Flying Club, and gliding. It is reasonably quiet, and commercial passenger flights are no longer scheduled; Queenstown International Airport is the nearest facility for those.

A portion of the Otago Central Rail Trail runs through Alexandra.


Alexandra experiences a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk), that if just 0.6 millimetres wetter, would qualify for an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb). The district is one of the farthest from a coastline in New Zealand and experiences cold winters and even some light snowfall and warm summers relative to the rest of the country. Temperatures regularly drop below zero in winter and will rise above thirty degrees Celsius in the summer months. In spite of its southerly latitude, it is known to be one of the warmest areas in New Zealand during summer. The hottest and coldest temperatures recorded in Alexandra (between 1971 and 2019) are 38.7 °C (102 °F) (recorded on 30 January 2018) and −11.2 °C (12 °F) respectively,[8] [9].

Climate data for Alexandra (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 25.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.0
Average low °C (°F) 10.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 50.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 6.7 5.2 4.9 4.0 6.9 5.8 4.3 4.4 5.4 5.5 4.8 7.7 65.7
Average relative humidity (%) 70.1 77.5 80.0 84.5 86.8 89.1 89.3 85.1 74.5 72.7 67.8 69.0 78.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 231.4 199.8 193.7 158.2 121.2 87.1 90.7 135.9 164.7 193.9 214.1 215.0 2,005.8
Source: NIWA Climate Data[10]

Radio stations[edit]

Following Mediaworks corporate 2013 decision to move all Central Otago and Lakes District live broadcast activity to Queenstown, Alexandra was left without a local radio station until the creation of independently owned Classic Gold Central in September 2013 on Blossom Festival Weekend. Tramsmitting from a co-site with Radio Rhema in the Waikerikeri Valley on 91.9FM, the station, owned by longtime broadcasters Chris Diack and Bill Willis, has re-established the service of providing local information for the district. Classic Gold Central was re-branded as Local Radio Central sometime before 2018. On April 1st 2018 the station was purchased by new owners, who again re-branded the station as Radio Central. From the 1st of April 2018 Radio Central had transmitters located at Waikerikeri Valley (91.9), Cromwell (91.9), Roxburgh (94.3) and Wedderburn (104.3).

Independently owned radio station Blue Skies FM was established in 2001 to serve the local community, broadcasting to the Alexandra basin, Cromwell, the Maniototo, Teviot Valley and beyond. The station successfully established itself as the voice of the region, featuring regular guests, from the local mayor to the Prime Minister, along with a raft of sports stars. Its main driving force was its managing Director Mike Bain and his team that was behind him. Announcers on air included Mike Bain, Jack Crookes and John Prestney (JP). Blue Skies FM ceased broadcasting at the end of September '08 following a move by Mediaworks, who successfully negotiated a deal to take on the frequency to rebroadcast its Easy Listening Brand, The Breeze.[11]

Alexandra once had its own local More FM station with the studios based in Alexandra. Previously, the station was known as Radio Central. Central Otago's More FM broadcasts into Roxburgh, Clyde and Cromwell. Wanaka also has More FM but this is a relay of the Queenstown More FM station (formerly known as Resort Radio). Central Otago's More FM is now networked from Studios in Queenstown.

Alexandra also features a number of local FM stations that operate on the New Zealand Government's "low power FM" scheme, including Classic Gold on 107.3FM and XS80s on 106.7FM. These stations operate on short range covering the main township only.


Alexandra has three primary schools (Alexandra Primary School, Terrace Primary, and St. Gerard's). There is also one high school (Dunstan High School).


Alexandra is now administered by the Central Otago District Council, with the current mayor being Tim Cadogan.

Many streets in Alexandra are named after mayors of the former Alexandra Borough.[7]

1867–1897 1898–1940 1940–1989
Robert Finlay 1867–1870 and 1886–1889 James Kelman 1898–1899 and 1901–1903 Archibald McKellar 1940–1947
John Chapple 1871–1872 Henry Symes 1900–1901 Bert Fox 1947–1953
William Beresford 1872–1873 George Spencer 1903–1906 George Campbell 1953–1959
James Samson 1873–1878 Henry Schaumann 1906–1910 Keith Blackmore 1959–1980
James Rivers 1878–1879 and 1894–1896 J Gregg 1910–1911 Ross Close 1980–1986
George McDonald 1882–1884 Edward Marslin 1911–1915 Russell Poole 1986–1989
JE Thompson 1884–1886 Archibald Ashworth 1915–1917
William Theyers 1890–1893 and 1895–1896 William Black 1917–1927
J Simmonds 1893–1984 and 1896–1897 William Bringans 1927–1940

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Subnational Population Estimates: At 30 June 2018 (provisional)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018. For urban areas, "Subnational population estimates (UA, AU), by age and sex, at 30 June 1996, 2001, 2006-18 (2017 boundaries)". Statistics New Zealand. 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  2. ^ The Cyclopedia of New Zealand: Alexandra
  3. ^ Teara 1966: Alexandra
  4. ^ "Place Names of New Zealand – Ingoa Wāhi o Aotearoa". Native Council. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Teara – Encyclopedia of New Zealand: ALEXANDRA
  7. ^ a b "Alexandra Borough Council". Central Otago District Council. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  8. ^ [1] (from the NIWA website)
  9. ^ Augutis, Maria. "The heatwave in numbers". NIWA. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  10. ^ "Climate Data and Activities". NIWA Science. Retrieved October 15, 2013.
  11. ^ "Central community radio going off air". The Southland Times. 25 September 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-10-15.
  • Reed, A.W. (2002) The Reed dictionary of New Zealand place names. Auckland: Reed Books. ISBN 0-790-00761-4.

External links[edit]

Media related to Alexandra, New Zealand at Wikimedia Commons