Where can you get close to some rare penguins, embrace your inner steampunk, tour Victorian beauty, enjoy some artisan cheese and raise a glass of sweet award-winning wine? Oamaru of course! A quaint and quirky seaside town on New Zealand’s South Island, Oamaru offers a wealth of activities. Even better, it’s just small enough to enjoy all of the area’s sites on an e-bike.
Start your adventure on Tyne and Harbour Streets, taking in all the Victorian charm of the completely restored quarry stone buildings. Built between the years of 1865 and 1885 in neo-classical style, these buildings now house Oamaru’s unique artisans. While on Harbour Street stop into the Loan and Mercantile building, the current home of The New Zealand Whiskey Company. Casually sip a dram of the whiskey maker’s newest creation, The Oamaruvian.
Heading north, right next to the train tracks, you cannot miss the shark-mouthed blimp hanging outside The Steampunk HQ. Once inside you are greeted with an extraordinary world filled with strange gizmos and gadgets powered by steam and gas. Upon leaving the museum you head into a yard filled with machines in various stages of completion. Wander around and enjoy!
At the corner of Torridge and Humber Streets, discover Whitestone Cheese Company. Sample any of the 20 award-winning varieties of cheese made with the sweet milk of limestone country that give the cheese a distinctive taste. The original factory was set up in a converted garage in Oamaru. The company now offers a viewing gallery so visitors can experience the cheese making process.
East and north of Oamaru is the Dyne Restaurant at the Kurow Estate Winery. Spend some time in the afternoon sun sipping a lovely bottle of pinot gris. The scenery is breathtaking as the vineyard sits on a stone-fruit orchard alongside the Waitaki River. The winery also offers tours and wine tastings.
And finally, do not miss the stars of Oamaru thanks to the blue penguins. These birds are the smallest penguins in the world and they inhabit the cliffs of the historic harbour. The penguins become active at night, but during the day you can tour the centre. Just before dark, the penguins head up the rocks to their nests. Their journey takes about an hour to an hour and a half, and the amount of birds arriving will vary. You might see upwards of 250 birds at one time. Tours run from 10 am until late.
Well you have done it! You just experienced the best that Oamaru has to offer!