The East Otago area is rich in local history. Johnnie Jones, a well known merchant whaler, sealer and farmer, settled at Matanaka in the 1840 where his farm buildings still exist. These were the first farm buildings built in New Zealand.
Known as the birthplace of Otago, Waikouaiti and Palmerston feature historic shop buildings, halls and churches, and the Waikouaiti Museum. Palmerston is the gateway to Central Otago via the Pig Route.
Today Waikouaiti and Palmerston are both enjoying resurgence as shops, cafes, restaurants, bakeries, beauty salons, takeaway outlets and taverns once again fill the streets.