Oamaru is the largest town in the Waitaki District; most famous for its penguin colony and limestone architecture of the Victorian Precinct – but that’s just the beginning of what the town has to offer.
Be captivated by little blue penguins, fur seals and rare seabirds that call Oamaru home. With craft beer and whisky, incredible restaurants, café’s and artisan shopping close by, Oamaru Harbour is great for everyone with stunning views out to the Pacific Ocean, an incredible steampunk-themed playground
and bike park for the kids.
Stroll through New Zealand’s best preserved Victorian commercial streetscape in the Victorian Precinct, Oamaru. The original buildings made from locally quarried limestone are a testament to Oamaru’s boom era, when it was an important port town, sending the world’s first frozen meat exports around the world. Venture into Oamaru a little further and you’ll find wonderful shopping and handmade cheeses and the beautiful public gardens.
Allow plenty of time to visit Oamaru where dressing in Victorian era attire not unusual, where Steampunks roam and a penny-farthing remains a perfectly acceptable mode of transport. The art of traditional crafts is alive and well and friendly locals are a core ingredient of what makes Oamaru great.
New Zealand’s longest and most spectacular cycle trail – this is a trail not to be missed. The name says it all; start at Aoraki Mt Cook in the heart of the stunning Southern Alps or the equally beautiful Lake Tekapo Village and wind your way round mountains, deep-blue lakes and canals, then rolling farmland before meeting the Pacific Ocean on the edge of Oamaru Harbour.
Biking route The Cape offers steeper terrain with 8km of interconnecting tracks to explore in a compact area. There are climbing tracks with good gradients to get to the two high points. Following this you’ll find numerous options for coming back down with varying levels of difficulty (up to grade
A spectacular walk taking you up to the aptly named Lookout Point, here you can look over the harbour and out to the Pacific Ocean. This walk is steep going up and can be slippery after rain, alternatively, drive to Lookout Point and take a walk on the track around the Cape and visit a former gun emplacement.
This wetland lagoon is an important habitat for many wetland bird species and is recognised as an area of Natural Significance in this Karst landscape. The walking track surrounding the lagoon leads to a ‘disappearing stream’, where the water drains into an underground cave system in the limestone. Head south
Architecture OAMARU, THAMES STREET This former Bank of New South Wales was built at a time of rapid growth in Ōamaru. Designed by Dunedin architect Robert Lawson in 1883, the building forms a handsome pair in limestone with its equally imposing neighbour, the National Bank. Both have luxuriant acanthus leaves
Kakanui is famous for its stunning sunflowers field. The sunflowers are usually blooming in February – and it’s definitely worth the view! This field has played host to many a photographer and film crew over the years. These sunflowers are grown by Topflite to produce some of their seeds. You
Located at the end of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, right next to Friendly Bay and the Historic Precinct, you will find the vibrant Oamaru Farmers Market. The market is the perfect Sunday hangout spot all year round, somewhere to grab a bite and a coffee, and your place
Walking Track Distance: 1.4km (one way) The Harbourside walkway is a nice short route that will take you through the heart and hub of Oamaru and easily connect with other walks. Starting from the Oamaru Railway Station, head over to the entrance of the Harbourside Gardens which is on the
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
Architecture OAMARU, THAMES STREET Now a restaurant, this former post office, built 1864 is now Ōamaru’s oldest surviving public building. It is the only known example of architect W. H. Clayton’s work remaining in the town and differs from its more elaborate neighbour, the second post office, which replaced it in
Architecture OAMARU, THAMES STREET Now the home of the Waitaki District Council, this elegant essay in limestone was designed by Forrester and Lemon in 1883, but without its clocktower. It was Thomas Forrester’s son John, who saw to the addition of the 28 metre high tower in 1903. The clock
Architecture OAMARU, THAMES STREET Originally built for the Bank of Otago in 1871, this elegant and dignified building was, like its neighbour, the Forrester Gallery, designed by Robert Lawson. The Bank of Otago, founded in 1863, was absorbed by the National Bank in 1875. 11 Thames StreetOamaru 9400 New Zealand
New Zealand’s Restaurant of the Year in 2010. Riverstone Kitchen is a more casual café by day before morphing into a relaxed yet focused evening restaurant. The short, uncluttered menu focuses on local ingredients, with much of the produce from the family’s gardens. In 2006, Bevan Smith returned to New