Kelso was a village in Otago in southern New Zealand which was abandoned in the 1980s. It was located near the town of Tapanui on South Island. At one stage in the 1960s, almost 300 people called Kelso home and the rural settlement was home to many sheep farmers and a small dairy factory serving the industry.
Kelso was founded in 1875 and was intended to be the largest township in the West Otago region before Tapanui took over. A rail line linked it to Waipahi and from there to various locations on New Zealand’s South Island.
The village was built in an area prone to flooding and major events occurred in 1913 and 1917 when Kelso was placed in danger. Over the years, minor floods occurred occasionally and a particularly extreme one in 1978 caused the closure of the railway. In 1980, a second major flood caused extensive damage and it was decided to move the entire population elsewhere. The village was left abandoned afterwards and the land was claimed by nearby farmers.
While the town of Kelso remains uninhabited to this day, the farmland around it continues to remain in use, despite the issues with flooding. A memorial has been erected to town and the people who lived there. The rail line has never reopened.
Location: Kelso, New Zealand
Category: Ghost Town