Awesome Oamaru


Leaving cousins Jon’s place Monday morning we continued south towards Oamaru with a short stop back in Waimate to get a few supplies as well as filling the water and getting rid of the other stuff. As we drove towards the dump station there we again came across Renee and Geoff who had spent the night at the NZMCA camp and were walking into town.

Before we turned off to Waimate we had been stuck for a short period of time behind a house being moved down the road, Murphy’s law we got stuck behind it again just outside Oamaru with a huge queue of traffic behind it. How it got a permit to move in the middle of the day is beyond me. With nature calling I pulled off the road to use the little room at the back of the van to discover that we had pulled over into the road that leads to the A&P Showgrounds CAP (#8252) so we decided to stay.

During the height of the rain and wind we took advantage of the washing machine tucked into a store room in the A & P building it was really interesting looking at all the old signage tucked away to be reused this weekend for their show 23rd 24th February.

The campground is close enough to town that we donned rain coats and walked in on the Tuesday to watch a movie pick up a couple of things from the shops and grab a great Thai meal for lunch, making the most of a wet day.

With the weather closing in from ex cyclone Gita the rain got stronger and stronger so we decided to stay and see out the storm. Although Oamaru was not effected like parts further north the grounds around us still became swimming pools.


Thursday morning the skies cleared but the ground remained sodden so we made the decision to get out of the gate before anyone else lest we get stuck. As you can see it was very wet. So having spent three days hunkered down I have to say that it’s a nice camping area at only $6 per night for the van it’s also cheap.


As we had left the campground early we got to the old warehouse district of town well before the shops opened. So we headed towards the wharf area to the sight of waves crashing over the breakwater but the interior harbour calm and peaceful. The steampunk theme pervades everything in this area with some terrific objects and sculptures.


Crossing the footbridge that takes you over the railway lines it was a great chance to get a shot of the van parked next to some others in the carpark on one side and the kids roadway on the other. A great area for teaching your kids road safety.


At 10am the Steampunk museum opens, it’s such a shame that you cannot load video onto this blog as all three of the sculptures shown above actually do something once you have inserted $2. It’s money well spent to see the smoke and flames pouring out of the train.


Inside the museum the lighting is a little low making viewing some of the sculptures rather difficult and taking photos even harder but the place has a really interesting feel making the $10 per person admission fee well worth while.


There is an amazing instillation sculpture that were in not for the other people waiting I would probably have done again. You enter a small sealed room that is made completely from mirrors other than where you stand with hundreds of small light globes that change colour as it goes through it’s display which lasts about 2 1/2 minutes. An absolute must if you are in Oamaru.


In the yard outside there are a number of the larger sculptures that we both found fascinating prehaps because Sarah’s brother is also a sculptural artist although he resides in the USA and we are not sure if he has been here or seen these exhibits. You would have to have a fairly large space to be able to display one of these if you had brought one when they where first made.

The old warehouse area of Oamaru has been turned into an area full of little stores, cafes and small businesses that cater to almost every taste with people even offering the chance to dress up in Victorian clothes to have your photo taken although we didn’t take advantage of this offer.


The famous Oamaru stone has created so many wonderful buildings that really give you a feel of Victorian history. It’s also really nice that this town hasn’t been invaded by tourists yet so parking is still easy without the madness of some of the other towns we have seen.

As we prepared to leave Oamaru we stopped at the lookout at the top of the hill at the southern end of the town to spectacular views of the town. I even managed to get the above shot with the waves crashing over the breakwater. We did think about taking the walkway to the gun emplacements overlooking the water but decided to move on instead.


From the lookout we could also see snow that had covered the mountains in the high country behind during the storm.


We almost left Oamaru on the second day of hunkering over if we had done that we would have driven onto the boulders at Moeraki missing out on what an Awesome town Oamaru is. It is absolutely worth a visit here.

Next blog is onto the boulders coming soon
If you would like to see all the places we have visited click here

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2 thoughts on “Awesome Oamaru

  1. Very interesting. Although Betty and Dick took me to Oamaru, I didn’t see any of those things. I’m really sorry to have missed out on the steam museum. However, we did see the boulders at Moeraki, though we didn’t go to lunch at Fleur’s Place, which I would have liked to do …

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