Hampden is situated on a broad bay which extends along the north Otago coast from Moeraki Point towards Aorere Point. Behind this bay the coastal plain rises within about 10 miles to the foothills of the Horse Range and the Kakanui Mountains. The South Island Main Trunk railway and the main Christchurch-Invercargill highway pass through Hampden, which is 22 miles south-west of Oamaru and 16 miles north of Palmerston.
The soil of the surrounding plain overlies a limestone formation and is highly productive. Dairying, cash cropping, and poultry raising are the primary rural activities. On the higher country to the west, sheep raising is important. Commercial sea fishing is also a district activity and a small fleet of motor boats and trawlers is based on Moeraki, 5 miles to the south-east. The town's main function is that of a minor servicing centre for the rural community but, as it possesses a good safe beach and has other attractions, e.g., the nearby Moeraki Boulders, it has also become a popular summer holiday resort.
The early surveyors named the town after John Hampden. It was constituted a borough in 1879.
POPULATION: 1951 census, 285; 1956 census, 307; 1961 census, 303.
by Brian Newton Davis, M.A., Vicar, St. Philips, Karori West, Wellington and Edward Stewart Dollimore, Research Officer, Department of Lands and Survey, Wellington.