Frequently Asked Questions

Over the years, our staff in our Visitor Centres have answered a lot of questions from visitors in this town. Here are some of the most common questions (and answers!). Don’t hesitate to explore the rest of our website for all the things to do and see in the Waitaki.

For all the details on where to find local information, please visit this page.

What is there to see/do in Oamaru and area?

You can visit Oamaru's Victorian Heritage Precinct and explore Oamaru's Victorian past, watch Oamaru's Little Blue Penguins at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony; discover the unique world of Steampunk an the Steampunk HQ; stroll in the Oamaru Public Gardens; discover our local cheese at the Whitestone cheese factory...

Where can we get some retail therapy in Oamaru?

There is a lot to do!

Oamaru offers many independent shops and businesses. Thames Street shops are open Monday to Saturday lunchtime, Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct has a great array of quirky shops, cafes and galleries, open most days. At the North End there are antique stores.

What is the history of the old buildings in Oamaru?

The Oamaru's Victorian streetscape is built on the bounty of wool and grain, and tells the story of Victorian hopes and dreams during the boom years of the late 19th century. These buildings played a key part in Otago's industrial and agricultural heritage. You can join our Heritage Walking Tour to discover the stories behind Oamaru's most magnificent buildings.

What are your recommendations to find accommodations in Oamaru?

You could find motels, hotels, backpackers, holiday parks, freedom campsite, farm stay and Airbnb in Oamaru. Please go online for checking the vacancy or finding their contact phone number, or if you pass by the main street, Thames Street or Thames Highway, you could find most of the accommodation provides on both sides.

Where and when can I see penguins (both yellow-eyed and the little blue penguins)?

Bushy beach reserve is the best place to see yellow-eyed penguins in Oamaru, usually around the sunrise and two hours before sunset. Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is the best option for viewing the little blue penguins and they provide evening viewing before sunset, usually begins between 5pm-8.30pm (varies throughout the year).
You can also see penguins (and seals) at the Moeraki Lighthouse/Katiki Point area.

When are the annually held events?

Jazz weekend Otago Anniversary Weekend
Fire and Steam Friday of Queens Birthday weekend
Steampunk - Queens Birthday
Victorian Heritage Celebrations - Thu-Sat that lead into the third Sun of November
Fete Day 3rd - Sunday of November
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Where can we find the Moeraki Boulders?

Moeraki Boulders is 37km south of Oamaru, on the way driving to Dunedin. Following the SH1 pass Hampden for another five minutes driving on your left-hand side, you will find a sign for Moeraki/Moeraki Boulders.

What are the different routes to travel North/South and what are the things to explore on these ways?

A. Oamaru - Waimate - Timaru : Riverstone Kichen&Gardens/ Glenavy Bridge/ Waimate Wallabies Park& berry farm/ Timaru Caroline Bay Carnival.
B. Oamaru-Waitaki Valley-Twizel - Mt Cook - Tekapo : Elephant Rock&Vanish World both near Duntroon (Waitaki Valley)/ Winery farms in Kurow/ Lake Aviemore Dam and walks/ Otematata wetland park/ Omarama Hot tub/ Lake Ohau ski field/ Twizel salmon farm and lakeview/ Mt Cook national park and hiking tracks/ Lake Tekapo walks and stargazing late night.

A. Oamaru-SH1 - Moeraki Boulders - Palmerston : Totara Estate/ Clarks Mill/ Herbert Forest Walk/ Moeraki Boulders/ Katiki Point Lighthouse/ Trotters Gorge Walkways /Shag Point
B. Oamaru - Kakanui (Coastal Route) - Moeraki Boulders: Kakanui beaches (All Day Bay ect.)/ Moeraki Boulders/ Katiki Point Lighthouse/ Shag Point

What to see/do on the way to Mt Cook?

On the route Oamaru-Waitaki Valley-Twizel-Mt Cook-Tekapo there are a lot of things to do and see so take your time!

Here are a few : Elephant Rocks &Vanish World Centre both near Duntroon (Waitaki Valley)/ Winery farms in Kurow/ Lake Aviemore Dam and walks/ Otematata wetland park/ Omarama Hot tub/ Clay Cliffs / Lake Ohau ski field/ Twizel salmon farm and lakeview/ Mt Cook national park and hiking tracks/ Lake Tekapo walks and stargazing late night.

What are the bus transport options out of Oamaru?

Oamaru-Moeraki-Dunedin: Oamaru Dunedin Shuttle / Atomic Shuttle/ Intercity Bus
Oamaru-Waimate-Timaru: Atomic Shuttle/ WOW Transport Services/ Intercity Bus
Oamaru-Christchurch: Atomic Shuttle/ Intercity Bus
Oamaru-Omarama-Twizel-Mt Cook-Tekapo (Waitaki Valley&A2O): Cycle Journeys
Oamaru – varies destinations: Oamaru Tours (Merv Aitchison), WOW Transport Services

What are the freedom campsites in / around Oamaru?

If your camper van is fully self-contained you can stay in the car park on Eden St by the Inter City bus stop from 6pm-8am and also at All Day Bay just past Kakanui.
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What are the Hiking/ walking in and around Oamaru?

There are a lot of options, depending on the time you have and the challenge level you are after.

Where can I go mountain biking or cycling?

Check out the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail for all the info.

You can ride the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail from/to Oamaru. There is free parking where you can leave your car while on the trail in the Carpark between Tyne & Tees Street (though not secured). There are also Mountain Bike tracks are on Cape Wanbrow and the Reservoir in Oamaru. Also, Herbert Forest offers mountain biking.
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Is there free parking in Oamaru?

There is!

You can park your car for free :
- in between Tyne Street and Tees Street,
- at the Oamaru Harbour,
- in the area next to Scott’s Brewery,
- at the Esplanade,
- behind ANZ with access off Humber Street.
There are also other free car parks around towns, but they have a time limit.

Where are the public toilets?

There are several public toilets in Oamaru:

8/2 Itchen St, opposite the Star & Garter restaurant, closes at night
3 Eden St, by the InterCity bus stop
Holmes Hill
Awamoa Road by Awamoa Park opposite New World supermarket
Cnr Thames Highway and Frome St, Oamaru North
Friendly Bay Playgound
Oamaru Public Gardens

Where is free WiFi available?

Free WiFi is available at the Oamaru Library (62 Thames St) and at some cafes, including Tees St Cafe (3 Tees St) and Shortblack Cafe (45 Thames St). Free wifi vouchers are also available at Rose’s General Store and Information for the precinct area.