Otira is a small township seven kilometres north of Arthur's Pass in the central South Island of New Zealand. It is on the western approach to the pass, a saddle between the Otira and Bealey Rivers high in the Southern Alps. The population of Otira and its surrounds was 87 in the 2006 Census, an increase of 30 from 2001..
It was originally a stop on the Cobb and Co stagecoach from Canterbury to the West Coast. The railway line was then built from Greymouth to Otira, with the pass navigated by coach, until the railway tunnel opened in 1923. The township is principally old Railways housing, much of which was constructed in Hamilton and shipped south to be reassembled on site.
Above the town is the Otira Viaduct. Completed in 1999, it spans a 440-metre stretch of unstable land, replacing a narrow, winding, dangerous road that was prone to avalanches, slips and closures. The viaduct can be fairly called an example of engineering genius, owing to the challenging combination of a highly unstable foundation, flash flooding, steep slope, erosive factors, and lack of any stable site to base construction work. The fact that the viaduct was completed for 45 million New Zealand dollars in less than two years of work is nothing short of incredible.
Otira Forster & Wilton, 1973