Beneath a range of hills known as Rough Ridge, a small township with the same name developed after gold and quartz began to be mined in the 1860s. The township name later changed to Oturehua in 1908 by the Railways Department although the connection to a battle or a chief was challenged by locals who felt the name was not credible.
The Idaburn Dam was built in 1931 for a Government irrigation project. As it was one of the coldest places in Otago in winter, the dam created a recreation area for skating, curling and other ice sports.
Iceskating at Idaburn Dam, Oturehua, 1933 and 1937 Auckland Libraries Heritage Collection
Track gang, Bedford Bus and jigger in the snow at Oturehua, S33 383, GW Emerson Collection