Central Otago has a rich history in gold mining dating back to the turn of the century. In more recent times it is recognised as becoming one of the premium wine growing centres of the country. Activities outside the main cities include trout and salmon fishing, tramping, cycling, horse riding, mountaineering, 4×4 tours, eco-tourism and many more.
The area has a large farming sector in addition to viticulture and wine growing. Employment opportunities revolve around these businesses in smaller rural towns in the farm machinery sector and selected smaller automotive workshops.