I have always just passed through Oamaru, but our new caravan has been our excuse to stay awhile at places like this. We did not regret it – even extended our stay another night. You could easily stay a week! Read our separate post on Cycling in Oamaru.
Oamaru – Steampunk Capital of NZ
You may not know what Steampunk is, but a visit to the museum will open your eyes. $10 a head gives you an invitation to another world. It is full of touchable knobs and leavers, there are mazes and hidden hallways to explore.
The old buildings of Oamaru have been reclaimed from their previous life, and provide a fabulous backdrop to the harbour precinct. Lots of shops to explore.
Coffee in Oamaru:
Favourite Restaurant in Oamaru
A 30 minute drive south is a chance to explore the Moeraki Boulders and the legendary seafood restaurant Fleurs Place We shared a tasting plate of 5 different fish – all pan fried to perfection. Perfect!
We smelt them before we saw them. We had cycled around the inner harbour and I thought I smelt a fishing boat. It became stronger and as we cycled on and I saw the source.
Hundreds and hundreds of shags on an old wharf closed to the public. Definitely the source of the smell – this wharf had become the go to nursery for young shags. It is summer, and the spring chicks seem fully grown, but still have not got their darker colours. A few terns are sheltering amongst them.
At dusk every night about 200 little blue penguins come ashore to feed their young. This is one of the must dos in Oamaru.
We paid a little more for a premium viewing ($49.50) and it was worth it. Rug up as it is sometimes a bit of a wait – we are on Penguin Time. A good commentary and introduction as the little blues raft up off shore after their day fishing.
Then the raft heads for shore, and each of them leaps out of the water to waddle up the hill. There is a process of drying off and preparing for dry land living, and then they set off for their little homes. The penguins seem wary of the few seals that lie around, but their antics are good entertainment before the penguins arrive.
Where to stay in Oamaru – Oamaru Top10 Holiday Park
Fantastic place to stay, especially if you have bikes – the Alps to Ocean Cycleway runs past the gate, and it borders the beautiful Oamaru Botanic Gardens. Explore this at your leisure or use it as the cycleway to the Victorian and Steampunk precinct near the harbour.
They have everything from Cabins to tent sites. We are in a drive in Caravan spot, under trees with a picnic bench and lots of room for the car and bikes.
Another spot a bit further north is the Ocean View Eco Motor Park to the North of the Town – great views over the sea. Only a couple of powered sites. We cycled out there and met the owner who is really just starting out. It suits self contained vehicles, not much in terms of facilities yet – a work in progress. 1a Caledonian Rd Oamaru. Portaloos for toilets, no showers yet, a small shelter with BBQ etc. No trees yet, but worth keeping an eye out for future trips.