Oamaru – More Than Meets The Eye

More than meets the eye

We’ve been back from our last motorhome trip for over two weeks now, and it was only yesterday that I finally got around to checking some of the photographs I had taken since leaving the West Coast.

After a couple of weeks in Greymouth looking after grandsons during the school holidays, we headed back through the Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs, where we stayed one night; then on to Ealing, just south of Hinds where we stayed the next night; and after finding the NZMCA Park at Waimate full, we headed to Oamaru for our last night before finishing the drive back to Invercargill.

Oamaru has only ever been a small town we drive through on the way from south to north, or north to south. Sure, we nearly always stop and pick up a take-out coffee and something to eat, or sometimes exercise the dogs, but usually – zoom – straight through.

So it was a lovely surprise to discover in the time we were there that in Oamaru, there is more than meets the eye!

We parked up for the night at the North Otago A & P Association’s grounds, a couple of kilometers from the town centre. The e-bikes came off the back of the motorhome and we headed off for what we thought would be a quick, brisk ride into town and back.

Rather than ride on the main road (State Highway 1) we meandered our way along a few back streets that took us past the old railway station, located almost on the seafront.

Before going any further with this story, let me say that this is not a history lesson about Oamaru – but Oamaru certainly has a lot of very interesting history!

Oamaru Railway Station.
Oamaru Railway Station

Now over 100 years old, the station has lost most of its gloss and is now the home to a restaurant out front, and around the back – the platform side – is the Waitaki Menz Shed.

Just a little bit further on from the railway station is the home of Steampunk!

I’ve heard of, and seen stuff about, Steampunk but never really known what it’s all about. Thank goodness for Google.

Steampunk is a sort of a sub-culture/genre of science fiction that is based on a futuristic version of the steam-powered Victorian England era. Think H G Wells and the like!

steampunk hq Oamaru - more than meets the eye
Steampunk HQ

I’ve taken the liberty of adding some Victorian-era grunge to this photograph, and I’ve also changed the sky to add a bit of Gothic drama effect…just because I could!

harbourside oamaru
Harbourside Station

Just opposite Steampunk HQ is the quaint Harbourside station.

Harbourside is still used by the Oamaru Steam and Rail Restoration Society, which runs trains between Harbourside and Quarry Siding, near the penguin colony, each Sunday.

In keeping with the way Oamaru has embraced its Victorian era heritage, the town still has New Zealands only Victorian/Edwardian deep-sea harbour. With a long breakwater and jetties dating back to the late 1800s, Oamaru Harbour is fully enclosed and protected against Pacific Ocean swells.

Looking towards the town from the Oamaru Harbour jetty
Oamaru's victorian/edwardian style harbour
Oamaru’s Victorian/Edwardian style harbour
Catch of the day!

The Blue Penguin Colony is a little further on around the harbour, on its south side. But before the colony is Sumpter Wharf – a roosting area for spotted shags, as well as home to the less common Otago shag.

Sumpter Wharf

Unfortunately due to the lateness of our arrival, there was no time to check out the penguin colony. That’s on the list for our next visit.

So it was back into the historic precinct area of Oamaru for a wee wander around, but before that the Tyne Street hill looked like a challenge we had to accept.

Tyne street Oamaru
Hill climb – Tyne Street

We made it to the top – thank goodness for power assist!

old horse drawn cart oamarue historic precinct
Old cart

This old horse-drawn cart – looking almost like it’s straight out of a wild west movie – sits alongside a warehouse at the rear of Harbour Street in the main precinct area.

The following day as we were leaving Oamaru we parked in town and wandered through the heart of the historic precinct – Harbour Street.

And Harbour Street itself definitely looks like a scene out of Victorian England…

harbour street Oamaru
Harbour Street, Oamaru
So much for going green!
Looks like a junk shop!

The photograph above – called Looks like a junk shop – is called that because while it does, it’s not. It’s a collection of not-for-sale paraphernalia in one of the arcades in Harbour Street.

If you’re interested, the day I shot these photographs my camera was set to Auto ISO, and in the semi-darkness of the arcade the camera had ramped ISO up to 6400! I didn’t notice and took the shot anyway.

I’ve read that M43 cameras are not good at low light/high ISO levels, so I ran Looks like a junk shop through On1 Photo RAW’s NoNoise AI filter and the image has cleaned up remarkably well. I’m impressed.

The last call before leaving ton was the Farmers’ Market – held every Sunday right in the heart of town. There was lots of colour and noise, even though we arrived late in the day.

The Fishmongery at the Farmers Market.

So next time you’re passing through Oamaru – don’t!

Stop and spend some town soaking up all this lovely little North Otago town has to offer. I’m sure you won’t regret it. We didn’t, and we’ll definitely be going back for a longer stay.


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