Culture & Heritage

Fill your days exploring our world-changing
and unforgettable past

Oamaru and the Waitaki have a rich history and heritage from Victorian streetscapes and Maori history to Steampunk and gorgeous galleries.

The Waitaki is steeped in Maori and early European settler history. Victorian streetscapes, ancient Maori rock art, museum collections, Steampunk HQ and gorgeous galleries filled with local art.

Each November, Oamaru brings its Victorian heritage to life with a five-day celebration filled with top hats, hoop skirts and penny farthings. As winter descends, Oamaru is once more transformed from its Victorian past, but this time the multi-day celebration is all things steampunk – you don’t have to dress up, but these celebrations give you the perfect excuse.

Maheno

Clark’s Mill

An important industrial landmark in beautiful North Otago houses four-storeyed Clarks Mill – New Zealand’s only surviving water-powered flour mill with early machinery still substantially intact. It was built as part of Totara Estate in 1866.

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Duntroon

Nicol’s Blacksmith

Walter Yardly became a blacksmith in Duntroon in 1896, after selling the business in 1904 to Nicol S. Muirden who retired in the 1960’s, and the smithy lay empty for 10 years. It was due for demolition in 1974 but was saved in 1975 by four local farmers; Burns Pollock, John Hore, the late Bill Simpson and the late Jim Harvey.

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Oamaru

Oamaru Heritage Walking Tours

Take a step back in time and discover Oamaru’s vibrant colonial history. Embark on a 90-minute easy-paced walk around the Historic Precinct and be immersed in Oamaru’s rich heritage, culture and geology with a knowledgeable local guide.

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Oamaru

Oamaru Opera House

The beautiful Oamaru Opera House stands resplendent in historic Thames Street, an intact, heritage-listed nineteenth century streetscape. Built over a century ago, the Oamaru Opera House has long been a hub for social, political and cultural activity, and continues to be the first choice for quality entertainment, meetings and conferencing

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Oamaru

Steampunk HQ

Steampunk HQ is a unique museum of art, sound & light showing an altered universe set within an 1880’s Grain Elevator building in Oamaru. Featuring The Portal, a retro-futuristic mirror and lighting installation with original glowing light sculptures.

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Events

Steampunk NZ Festival

Along with the New Zealand’s premier Steampunk attraction, 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!

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Duntroon

Takiroa Rock Art

Follow in the footsteps of our Maori forefathers who navigated the length of the Waitaki River and sheltered under limestone cliffs by visiting an ancient Takiroa Maori Rock Art site.

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Maheno

Totara Estate

New Zealand is said to be founded on the sheep’s back, and Totara Estate is central to this history. Situated south of Oamaru, the historic farm (originally 15,000 acres), was the birthplace of New Zealand’s billion dollar frozen meat industry.

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Duntroon

Vanished World Centre

The Centre has interpretive displays including unique world-class fossils – whales, dolphins, penguins, sharks and many shellfish while the trail introduces some key geological localities in North Otago.

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All Waitaki

Vanished World Trail

Explore the hidden depths of time throughout North Otago, with a glimpse into lands and seas long before our time.

This self-guided Trail spans coastal localities from Moeraki to Oamaru and extends inland through the Waitaki Valley.

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