I was lucky enough a few months back to be working in Oamaru for few days. I would have loved to have been visiting this small town as a tourist instead of having to work, but such is life.
A bit of background to start with, the town’s name is Maori and pronounced Oh-Ah-Ma-Roo, though most Kiwi’s pronounce it Ohm-Ah-Roo. Its located in the South Island of New Zealand, around 3 hours drive south from Christchurch or around 1.5 hours north from Dunedin.
Many of the old Victorian buildings around the town are made from Oamaru Stone such as this one to the right (and the photos at the bottom of this blog post). This is locally quarried limestone. The best selection of these buildings in is the old Victorian part of the town. Ideally, if you are visiting, you want to be in Oamaru at the weekend, as Sunday is when this part of town comes to life with the Farmers Market, every Sunday 9.30am-1pm.
I’m really keen to visit Steampunk HQ, its only been open since 2011 and is essentially a Steampunk Art Gallery. Its rated 4/5 on Tripadvisor so I’m really thinking it might be worth making a weekend trip to Oamaru just to visit it.
Another unique attraction for the area is the Blue Penguin Colony. Ideally you want to see the evening viewing as this is when you will see the most penguins as they return from the ocean. Viewing times during the year for evening tours vary depending on when dusk falls.
If you are staying as a tourist, rather than just passing through, there are plenty of accommodation options, primarily motels or private bed and breakfasts. Don’t expect 5 star hotels and fine dining though, this is small town, rural New Zealand. You can still find old fashioned tea rooms here and will see signs to take off your gum boots (wellington boots) at the door.
I’m thinking I really need to head back to Oamaru soon for a weekend to spend a bit more time in this cool, southern New Zealand town.