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Hampden is a rural settlement defined as a "populated area less than a town" in North Otago, New Zealand. It is located close to the North Otago coast, some 30 kilometres south of Oamaru, and 50 minutes north of Otago's largest city, Dunedin. It was named after the English politician John Hampden. In 2004, the population was put at 304.


The town consists of a rural fire station, fish and chips shop, general store, motel and backpackers, The Hampden Lodge, service station and mechanics workshop, a small second hand goods shop, tavern, and a historic town hall. There is a primary school with around thirty pupils.
Hampden was featured on National Radio's 'Your Place' show where it was said that the fish and chip shop was the best in New Zealand.

Hampden is situated beside a broad bay stretching from Aorere Point to Moeraki Point, on a coastal plain which rises westward to the foothills of the Horse Range and the Kakanui Mountains. The soil of this surrounding plain overlies a limestone formation and is highly valued for agricultural production. Sheep husbandry is the primary economic activity of the region and is augmented by some deer and cattle farming and two pig farms.

The streets of Hampden are laid out in a rectangular grid centred around the main highway and the railway. They are named after English locations, hence Lancaster, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Norfolk etc.

The popular Moeraki Boulders, together with a small cafe and restaurant are located 2 kilometres south of Hampden.

There is some good surfing locally on the Katiki straight, as well as nice trout fishing in the local Waianakarua and Shag rivers. The local hills are popular for pig and deer hunting. Close by at Moeraki, deep sea fishing and diving are also very popular.

The Hampden Energy Forum was established in 2007. This has grown into a community self-help scheme that involves nearly everyone in the settlement, growing from a small group of enthusiasts who were concerned about the future of small rural communities in 'post-oil' days. At the inaugural meeting to establish the Forum, more than one third of the town's population was present (i.e. 106 out of 304).

The Forum won the Trustpower Community Award in 2008, mainly for the staging of the Hampden Energy Expo. This was a one-day event that demonstrated many ways of surviving with minimum reliance on fossil fuels. The Forum continues to involve the community in such processes as waste disposal, car pooling, waste reduction, self-sufficiency gardening, electricity supply and wireless internet connections.

Such an initiative was possibly the first to occur in New Zealand, many communities now strive for the same initiatives.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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