Oamaru is a town with a rich history in bicycling. The penny farthing, long since replaced by more modern biwheeled vehicles, has a deep history in this southern New Zealand Victorian town.

Oamaru has a look and feel that seems distinctly vintage. It’s not rare to see women in lovely skirts and men on penny farthings in the streets, though the charming town has largely had a makeover in favour of modern tourism.

Still, bicycling clubs, even those featuring penny farthing lore and promoting their use, are commonplace on this New Zealand island. Penny farthings, and their more modern counterpart, sleek bicycles, still have a special place in the collective heart of New Zealand’s South Island.

Bicycling, in particular, is a well-enjoyed activity by many throughout this area’s history. Rich biking legends frequented this place. Residents and tourists alike enjoy an appreciation for travel on two wheels, a tradition going back to the 18th century.

Even as bicycling evolved as a sport and as a pastime, Oamaru remained a very open biking community that supports bicycling styles from all time periods of history. Biking trails and day trips by bike remain popular tourist attractions even today.

Multiple trails cut through or very close to Oamaru, giving tourists to this area plenty of options when choosing bike-based recreation. Traditional and motorised bikes make these trails a fun and memorable way to tour South Island.

Oamaru’s modern steampunk feel is felt from the updated Victorian vibes of many hotels and galleries downtown to children’s playgrounds, where nostalgic play equipment riffs off of popular vintage themes. One such park even features a penny farthing play structure that brings the style of this old bike to whole new heights.

Bike lore, too, is valued in Oamaru, with interested locals studying and recreating models of penny farthings and other vintage bicycles. The public can view these bikes, and anyone is welcome to look at and learn more about vintage bicycles and their place on South Island.

Today, you can rent an electric bike from The Town Bike to explore the area with ease. Check out the fun vintage playgrounds and scoot up and down the roads, looking for the random penny farthing sighting along the way.

Enjoy exploring Oamaru and South Island from the back of a bike as you take in the sites and learn all about this eclectic Victorian outpost.

Author Jason Nockels

Leave a Reply