Weekend getaways are honestly the best! Wee getaways can help soothe a relentless travel itch as I mentioned in my Wanaka adventure. Recently, the boyfriend and I decided it was time for another weekend escapade so we jumped into the car are headed on up to Oamaru, New Zealand. Oamaru is located an hour north of Dunedin (and so four hours north of my home, Invercargill). So, in honour of this weekend, I want to share with you all Five Things to do in Oamaru, New Zealand.
1. The Moeraki Boulders.
Moeraki Boulders are unusually round boulders on the beach in Moeraki. These oddities are located half an hour south of Oamaru and are a nice wee stop on your adventure. 60 million years old and up to 3 meters in diameter, the Moeraki Boulders are certainly an odd site. If you decide to clamber on up one of the boulders for that perfect Instagram shot, be careful and the boulders can be slippery.
On-site there is also a nice café and gift shops to look through after admiring the boulders. The view from the café is also beautiful. I recommend taking a decent camera, something warm to wear, and some good beach shoes!
Oamaru downtown is Victorian / Steampunk themed. Buildings, signs, and products all Victorian themed. Spend a few hours wandering around the various shops, admiring the handmade products, the second hand stores, and quirky inhabitants. You can browse the many second hand bookstores, galleries, craft stores, restaurants, cafes, and old trains.
3. Steampunk HQ
Oamaru is known as the Steampunk capital of New Zealand (and quite possibly the world). Steampunk is sci-fi meets Victorian era, except set in the future. Wandering around the Victorian Precinct you will see statues made our of old cogs and metal. You will also no doubt happen upon Steampunk HQ. Go in, you’ll love it I promise. But before you in, make sure you insert $2NZD into the train outside and watch the steam train come to life, complete with steam and fire. Once inside you can play on an organ, programmed with various sounds, see what funky beat you can come up with!
There is also the room known as ‘The Portal’. Step inside for some Instagram worthy lighting and some trippy mirror work. You will think you are in a never ending space of lights.
Entry: $10NZD per adult
4. The Penguin Colony
Oamaru penguin colony is home to Blue Penguins, the smallest breed of penguins in the world. If you go during the day, $10NZD will get entry to the dark room. In the dark room you can view any penguins who have decided to stay put for the day rather than go out to sea. We were lucky enough to see two penguins who decided to stay put and sit on their egg. After viewing penguins in the dark room, you are free to wander around the site, viewing the different nesting boxes. You can also walk onto the viewing platform, used for night viewings of the penguins returning. During the day however, you will see fur seals sunning themselves and lazing about. These cuties do not eat penguins and are adorable to watch up close.
Visiting the penguin colony at night, $35NZD will get you a seat on the viewing platform to watch the penguins returning home after a day at sea. If you visited during the day, you will get a discount on this price.
5. Oamaru Public Gardens
If you want to go on a relaxing stroll and enjoy some nature, head to the Oamaru Public Gardens. An aviary, table and chairs designed like toadstools, streams, and a beautiful dragon mural are just some of the things you will see in the Oamaru Public Gardens. Make sure you visit the very talkative Cockatoo at the aviary for a wee chat about life. Walking around these gardens is a great way to work up an appetite. Which is good, because if you go where I’m about to recommend for dinner, you are going to need a HUUUUUUGE appetite.
Where to eat?
Portside Restaurant and Bar
For dinner, we went to the Portside Restaurant and Bar, located just down from the Penguin Colony. Dining here will give you gorgeous views across the oceans, and you can watch Oamaru light up and the night begins to set in. Also, the meals are MASSIVE. My boyfriend opted for the steak, and he was delighted when a massive slab of meat was presented to him, paired with a large serving of fries, and a massive salad. I went for the crumbed Blue Cod and chips. I was given 3 large blue cod fillets, a heap of fries, and a huge salad. We had a pint of coke each to drink. All this came to $70NZD which is really good value! Neither of us had to eat until about 2:00pm the next day!
The Penguins Nest
Stop here for a snack after wandering around the Victorian Precinct. Located right beside the ocean walkway, you can sit with an ice-cream made from real fruit and enjoy the awesome views. The owner also has a pretty smashing sense of humour, as shown on his boards.
Where to stay?
We stayed at Highfield Mews located in the main centre of Oamaru. We picked this hotel due to its location and the spa bath (which was lovely by the way). The room was lovely, complete with teas, coffee, and hot chocolates. There was also a TV in the bedroom which was good because after that massive dinner all we wanted to do was go to bed and watch some telly.
I have also heard great things about the Old Bones Lodge. This Lodge is about 10mins north of Oamaru but overlooks the ocean and has outdoor hot tubs for you to sit in and admire the view. Technically a hostel, the pricing isn’t bad either!
So there you have, things to do, see, and taste in Oamaru, New Zealand.
Have you been to Oamaru? Do you want to go? Let me know in the comments!!
Thank you and much love,
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