Oamaru is a city that has its own unique character. It’s known for being the birthplace of Sir Edmund Hillary, a famous explorer and mountaineer who was one of the first to climb Mount Everest, but it also has beautiful beaches on the coast and an impressive winery. There are plenty of things to do in Oamaru; here are just three of them:
Steampunk HQ is a museum and art gallery dedicated to the steampunk community. It’s well-known as a great place to see examples of steampunk fashion, crafts and design, but there are also plenty of fun things to do here.
Start your visit with a tour of the Steampunk HQ exhibition space. Here you’ll find pieces from local artists that depict all aspects of the steampunk genre: historical retellings; explorations into alternative timelines; creations inspired by fantasy novels and video games; even rooms set up as if they were part of an actual museum or library.
The rest of this building contains workshops where you can learn how to make your own jewelry or leather accessories using traditional techniques like metalworking, woodcarving and clock making. There’s even an area where you can take photos against backdrops depicting famous scenes from classic movies! And if all this isn’t enough for ya – there’s also an art gallery showcasing work from some pretty big names in the world of steampunk (like James Gurney).
Steampunk HQ offers free entry so it won’t cost anything extra on top of what we’re already spending today at Oamaru’s other attractions! The address is 32-36 High Street East in Oamaru.
The Victorian Precinct is a heritage area in the centre of Oamaru. It is home to many historic buildings, including one of the oldest stately homes in New Zealand. This precinct has become a popular tourist destination and shopping mall with lots of cafes and shops selling art and souvenirs. There are also some great restaurants if you want to grab lunch while visiting this city.
The town itself is small but very charming with colourful houses lining its streets and plenty of trees around it providing shade during hot days. Visitors can go for a walk through the town or even rent bikes or scooters if they want to explore more quickly without having to worry about traffic jams!
Oamaru is also a great place to visit if you are interested in marine life. It’s located near the mouth of the Waitaki River, which is where migrating salmon swim in and out every year. You can go on boat tours to see them swimming upstream as well as dolphins that swim out at night. There are also several beaches within driving distance of Oamaru where you can go swimming or surfing if conditions allow!
Blue Penguin Colony
This must-do activitiy on this list is not actually in Oamaru, but it’s worth the drive. The Blue Penguin Colony is located on Anchor Island and is home to approximately 20,000 penguins! It’s an easy 10-minute drive from Dunedin Airport or 30 minutes from Oamaru if you have a rental car. The cost of admission is $25 NZD per adult ($20 for youth aged 16-18) and covers both islands where you can view these adorable flightless birds walking around and swimming in their natural habitat. If you want to get as close as possible without having to swim/wade out there yourself (which I don’t recommend), then pay extra for one of their boat tours ($50 NZD per person). It takes about 45 minutes total round trip including loading/unloading times.
Blue Penguins are very easy to spot when visiting any colony location since they tend not travel far away from their nests which makes them relatively easy targets at all locations except maybe when they come ashore during feeding time which happens twice daily (7am – 8am & 4:30pm – 5:30pm). You can also spot them while snorkeling under water though this isn’t recommended due to its proximity with sharks who live underwater too!
Just 32 min (39.9 km) south via State Hwy 1 is the Moeraki Boulders which is a must see if you are in the Waitaki District.
These beautiful boulders, which resemble giant eggs, are a great place to explore with the family or on your own. You can also get great photos of the natural wonder and wander around on nearby beaches.
The boulders are estimated to be between five and ten million years old. It’s believed that they were created when a volcanic eruption went off, covering the area with lava that eventually hardened into rock.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about the top four things to do in Oamaru and Waitaki. It’s a great city with a lot of history and culture that you might not expect from such a small town! If this blog post has gotten you excited about seeing what else Oamaru has to offer then be sure to check out our other posts on the subject so we can help plan your trip together!
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