Culture, Heritage & History
Go back in time and experience a past gone-by.
Oamaru and the Waitaki have a rich history and heritage, evident throughout the district in many ways. From Victorian streetscapes and Maori history to Steampunk and gorgeous galleries; discover world of culture where you’ll want to return.Come visit, come learn.
Oamaru's Victorian Precinct
As you explore Oamaru's Victorian Precinct, you'll be surrounded by some of New Zealand's most complete and beautiful Victorian Streetscapes.
Originally the commercial and business district of Oamaru, the buildings in the Precinct were predominantly grain and seed warehouses throughout the late 19th century. The charitable trust, Whitestone Civic Trust, was later established with the aim of preserving the Oamaru Victorian Precinct and it now owns 16 of the Victorian buildings. These beautiful limestone buildings house a mixture of galleries, shops, traditional crafts, food & drink outlets.
This proud heritage is celebrated annually in November with the Victorian Heritage Celebrations.
Fit-out in the style of a colonial town, where activities, displays, merchants, and an array of people in costume provide a glimpse of what the street would have been like in the town’s early days.
A wonderfuly unique gallery to say the least! Have a look at Donna Demente's astonishing array of artworks.
View local working artists' creations in Oamaru's beautiful Victorian Precinct.
Step inside an iconic neo-classical building which houses national and international exhibitions.
Steampunk HQ is a unique museum of art, sound & light showing an altered universe set within an 1880's Grain Elevator building in Oamaru.
Upstairs in the Woolstore Galleries are a must see of specialty shops, studios & boutiques.
Witness beautiful Oamaru limestone sculptures being designed & carved by Ian Andersen.
Home to the North Otago Art Society, visitors are welcome to attend exhibitions and painting classes.
A small, funky Art Gallery nestled in Oamaru's beautiful Victorian Precinct.
Locally made Oamaru Lime Stone Art, bone jewellery, steampunk hats & accessories.
Beautifully handmade natural soaps and skin care using traditional recipes.
Have a look through a gorgeous collection of gifts, homeware, fresh flowers and coffee tucked in Oamaru's Victorian Precinct.
Groovy stuff for groovy people. Quality Gifts. Merino Possum Knitwear by Koru & Nativeworld. New Zealand Art. Kiwiana and heaps more...
An interesting studio on site with hand crafting by New Zealand artists.
Offering handcrafted one of a kind steampunk & costume jewellery.
- Always Christmas
Find everything you need for this Christmas.
Sweets, fudge, quality children's books, toys and more!
- Book A Brac
Browse through an excellent selection of second-hand books.
Specialists in the literature of adventure, Adventure Books offer a selection from many years of collecting.
A great selection of books covering all subjects.
The store’s focus, colour and quirkiness, leads to an Asian focus with our antiques, art and interiors.
A retail outlet for local artists and crafts people to sell the items that they make.
The Boat Society has now established a workshop and public display area – “The Tyne Street Boat Shed”, at 27 Tyne St Oamaru.
Take a journey back in time, and enjoy train travel the way it used to be, with Oamaru Steam and Rail.
Traditional bookbinder. Book restoration and blank books.
The largest and finest collection of Victorian styled clothing anywhere in NZ!
Dress in period costume and have a heritage photograph taken with your family or friends.
Traditional woodworker making the finest garden trug baskets, wooden hay rakes and wooden pitch forks.
With well attended international & national performances, come enjoy the unique atmosphere at the Penguin Entertainers Club.
The whisky shop by the sea.
Production craft brewery, gourmet pizza kitchen, beer tastings, takeaway tap beers, brew bar & sunny deck with stunning ocean views.
- Craftwork Brewery
Brewers of small idiosyncratic batches of Belgian inspired ales, without compromise.
Restored farm buildings and displays that play tribute to New Zealand's early pioneers, and the birthplace of New Zealand's frozen meat exports.
Four-storeyed Clarks Mill is New Zealand's only surviving water-powered flourmill with early machinery still substantially intact.
Oamaru is the Steampunk capital of New Zealand - and some say the world!What is Steampunk you ask?
Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features technology and aesthetic designs inspired by steam-powered machinery. Steampunk plays off the imaginings of an alternate version of the future beyond 19th century Victorian England.
In other words, it's a quirky, somewhat-crazy, steam-powered future as Victorians may have imagined it.
Check out New Zealand's premier Steampunk attraction at Steampunk HQ. With retro-futuristic/sci-fi art and sculptures, immersive lighting and sound effects, movies and more - this is a whole lot of fun for the entire family!
Right beside the Victorian Precinct and Oamaru's harbour, take the kids for a play at the Steampunk Playground. A bit of fun for all the family, have a go on the penny-farthing swing, climb the tower and slide down or try the human hamster-wheel
- Steampunk NZ Festival
Along with the New Zealand’s premier Steampunk attraction, Steampunk HQ, Oamaru also hosts the annual Steampunk NZ Festival, complete with fashion show, gala ball and even teapot racing! Yes, you did read that right - teapot racing! Check out their website for further details.
Historic Waitaki Valley
The Waitaki Valley has a rich history worth exploring.
Take your time and explore these spots as you head through the Waitaki Valley.
Just 25 minutes inland from Oamaru, Duntroon offers a number of famous historic sites, great scenery and other activities. Have a look at Nicols Blacksmith or visit the Vanished World Heritage Centre & Trail
Maori Rock Drawings
This historic place is known as the Takiroa Rock Art Site. Protected by metal caging, the rock art represent people, taniwha and more. The earliest known European recordings of rock art in New Zealand were taken here in 1852
Waitaki Valley Dams
The Waitaki River which flows through Lake Benmore, Lake Aviemore and Lake Waitaki are contained by hydroelectric dams; Benmore Dam, Aviemore Dam and Waitaki Dam. Great vantage points and surrounded by camp grounds, the dams are popular with campers, boaties and other outdoors addicts
400 oak trees were planted throughout the District in 1919 as living memorials; one for each brave soul who sacrificed their life for their country during WWI and WWII. Planted in the form of a wheel with Oamaru as the hub, the trees were planted at one-mile intervals and near the home of the solider commemorated wherever possible. Keep an eye out for these Memorial Oaks as you drive around Oamaru and the Waitaki District
See first hand how our forefathers coped with life. With photographs and exhibits the museum tells a story that is unique to the Waitaki Valley. The Waitaki has been a region of great developments in agriculture, hydroelectricity and social reforms - learn about these and more at the Kurow Museum