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Tapanui Homestead
Tapanui Homestead
Coordinates: 45°57′0″S 169°16′0″E / 45.95000°S 169.26667°E / -45.95000; 169.26667Coordinates: 45°57′0″S 169°16′0″E / 45.95000°S 169.26667°E / -45.95000; 169.26667
Country New Zealand
Territorial authorityClutha District
WardWest Otago
 • Regional councilOtago Regional Council
 • Territorial authorityClutha District Council
 • Total1.97 km2 (0.76 sq mi)
 (2018 Census)[2]
 • Total789
 • Density400/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
Local iwiNgāi Tahu

Tapanui is a small town in West Otago in New Zealand's South Island, close to the boundary with Southland region.

It is a forestry town at the foot of the Blue Mountains and the Pomahaka River. Popular pastimes include deer stalking and trout fishing.

Nearby locations include Landslip Hill, a fossil-bearing geologic feature.


For almost a hundred years, the town was serviced by the Tapanui Branch railway line, which despite its name never actually terminated in Tapanui. This line was formally opened in late 1880 and closed after being damaged by severe flooding in the region in October 1978. State Highway 90, which links State Highway 1 at McNab, near Gore, to State Highway 8 at Raes Junction, passes through Tapanui.

In 2015, Tapanui was a filming location for the Disney production Pete's Dragon, with the main street and old timber mill serving as their equivalents in the fictional town of Millhaven.[3][4]

Tapanui flu[edit]

In New Zealand the name Tapanui is closely associated with the mysterious ailment chronic fatigue syndrome, which — until it became an accepted ailment — was known as "Tapanui 'flu". The doctor who first documented the rise of the condition in New Zealand, Peter Snow, was based in the town.[5][6][7]


Tapanui is described by Statistics New Zealand as a rural settlement. It covers 1.97 km2 (0.76 sq mi),[1] and is part of the much larger West Otago statistical area.[8]

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [2]

Tapanui had a population of 789 at the 2018 New Zealand census, an increase of 66 people (9.1%) since the 2013 census, and an increase of 45 people (6.0%) since the 2006 census. There were 351 households. There were 381 males and 399 females, giving a sex ratio of 0.95 males per female, with 135 people (17.1%) aged under 15 years, 93 (11.8%) aged 15 to 29, 336 (42.6%) aged 30 to 64, and 219 (27.8%) aged 65 or older.

Ethnicities were 89.7% European/Pākehā, 14.8% Māori, 0.4% Pacific peoples, 1.5% Asian, and 3.4% other ethnicities (totals add to more than 100% since people could identify with multiple ethnicities).

Although some people objected to giving their religion, 51.0% had no religion, 38.4% were Christian, 0.8% were Hindu, 0.8% were Muslim, 0.8% were Buddhist and 1.1% had other religions.

Of those at least 15 years old, 63 (9.6%) people had a bachelor or higher degree, and 180 (27.5%) people had no formal qualifications. The employment status of those at least 15 was that 279 (42.7%) people were employed full-time, 114 (17.4%) were part-time, and 15 (2.3%) were unemployed.[2]


Tapanui School is a co-educational state primary school for Year 1 to 6 students,[9] with a roll of 72 as of March 2022.[10] The school was established in 1868, became Tapanui District High School in 1902, and split into the current school and Blue Mountain College in 1976.[11]

Blue Mountain College is a co-educational state secondary school for Year 7 to 13 students,[12][13] with a roll of 213.[14]


  1. ^ a b "ArcGIS Web Application". statsnz.maps.arcgis.com. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "Statistical area 1 dataset for 2018 Census". Statistics New Zealand. March 2020. 7029006–7029008, 7029010 and 7029011.
  3. ^ "Production on Disney's Pete's Dragon Underway in New Zealand". broadwayworld.com. 10 February 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  4. ^ "Disney's Pete's Dragon Filming Locations". newzealand.com. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  5. ^ Peter Snow (December 2002). "Reminiscences of the chronic fatigue syndrome" (PDF). Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2006. Retrieved 24 July 2006.
  6. ^ Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. "New Zealand loses a fine GP". www.scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 24 July 2006.
  7. ^ "RNZCGP Annual Report, with elegy on page 37" (PDF). Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. p. 37. Archived from the original (pdf) on 7 October 2006. Retrieved 24 July 2006.
  8. ^ 2018 Census place summary: West Otago
  9. ^ "Tapanui School Ministry of Education School Profile". educationcounts.govt.nz. Ministry of Education.
  10. ^ "Tapanui School Education Review Office Report". ero.govt.nz. Education Review Office.
  11. ^ Cosgrove, John (12 November 2018). "School's 150th celebration enjoyed by all". Otago Daily Times.
  12. ^ "Blue Mountain College Official School Website". bluemountain.school.nz.
  13. ^ "Blue Mountain College Ministry of Education School Profile". educationcounts.govt.nz. Ministry of Education.
  14. ^ "Blue Mountain College Education Review Office Report". ero.govt.nz. Education Review Office.