Oamaru boasts the country’s oldest public gardens, renowned Victorian architecture and two penguin colonies.
Oamaru, the largest town of the Waitaki District, has a rich history and proud heritage, enriched by the passionate and perhaps quirky locals. Explore this heritage in the Victorian Precint, where you will find, shops, galleries and traditional crafts within some of the Southern Hemispheres most complete Victorian streetscapes and19th century architecture.
This heritage and history is proudly celebrated each November during Oamaru’s Victorian Heritage Celebrations. A new heritage experience is also nestled right in the heart of Victorian Oamaru, Whitestone City. This is a fun-filled and interactive experience that the whole family will love.
Also at home in the Precinct, the wonderful world of Steampunk. Check out New Zealand’s premiere Steampunk attraction at Steampunk HQ or take the kids to the steampunk-inspired playground at Friendly Bay (Oamaru Harbour). If you're a big fan, plan your trip to coincide with the Steampunk New Zealand Festival each Queen’s Birthday weekend.
All the exploring will soon have you hungry. Treat your tired taste-buds to a variety of mouth-water food and drink delights in Oamaru. With Scotts Brewery, The NZ Whisky Collection cellar door, award-winning restaurants such as Riverstone Kitchen and locally crafted artisan cheeses and factory tours and tastings at Whitestone Cheese Co., foodies will be in their element.
Having tasted some of the unique Waitaki flavours, head to see the world’s smallest penguins in their natural environment at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. You can also witness the world’s rarest penguin – the yellow-eyed penguin – coming ashore at Bushy Beach. Watch from the purpose-built viewing hide so the penguins are not disturbed.
There also are great options for walking and biking in Oamaru. The Oamaru Public Gardens are a great option for a leisurely stroll, picnic and play on the playground. Or explore more of Oamaru and enjoy sweeping sea views on the Skyline or South Hill Walks. Cape Wanbrow is another popular spot for walkers (and is part of the South Hill track) with parking available at the reserve/lookout entrance.
The Cape is also popular with mountain bikers and has a number of short, fun runs of varying levels of difficulty. Mountain bikers can also find some great tracks at the Oamaru Reservoir.