Steampunk Oamaru's Victorian Precinct © Allan Henderson

Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct: the capital of all things steampunk

Victorian Precinct
View the map

TAP FOR MORE INFO:

Slightly eccentric, Oamaru, one of those not-as-it-first-seems places. The surprises are all good ones, though, whether it’s penguins or penny-farthing races you’re after. Or, indeed, that are after you!

Money made in meat meant multiple amazing buildings built in a concentrated period in the late nineteenth century. Yep, that’s a while ago. Yours for the viewing, if not the taking. The best examples are in the historic precinct, the Harbour & Tyne (streets) area as it’s known, and they’re built with local limestone (known as whitestone, of course).

They are some of the country’s finest examples of, well, any architecture, really, but certainly they are what was big at the time: they would look perfectly at home in Florence, Rome or by the lapping waters of the Venetian canals . . . or, in this case, the thundering Pacific Ocean.

It’s a great wander among the bookshops, galleries, slightly alternative healers and herbalists, a gentle, genteel and refreshing stroll that takes you back as you’re moving forward.

Inspirational, too: the area has given rise to some remarkable New Zealand artists and writers, the most famous being Janet Frame. In that tradition, the historic precinct houses a community of artistic and creative folk, many of whom exhibit their wares in the area.

To keep it current, in August 2016 Oamaru saw the largest collection of steampunk followers to ever gather anywhere in the world. The Victorian feel of the streets and buildings was the perfect host for their Dickensian imaginings. The city has held said annual Steampunk Festival since 2010, another example of the eccentric, unexpected charm of this curious seaside mini-cosmopolis. Where’s my monocle, Algernon?


Be the first to comment on this page. You cannot post comments until you have logged in. Please log in or register if you don't have an account.

More stories like this

Find out more

Things to do > Out and about

Dunedin city: Edinburgh of the south

‘Dunedin’ is an ancient name for Edinburgh and the resemblance doesn’t stop at the names.

Find out more

Things to do

Things I love about Dunedin

Take a trip to see the albatross of Otago Peninsula or discover the glory and tragedy of Olveston . . . 

Find out more

Things to do > Must-Do's

Must-Do's Hawke's Bay: art deco, wine and the largest gannet colony in the world

Traverse beautiful coastline, riverbeds, rolling pastures and native bush before taking in panoramic views and experiencing the exhilarating sight and sound of 20,000 gannets.

Where to stay in Oamaru

Show me all Places to stay

From $15
Glenavy's Waitaki River Motor Camp

Situated only 15 minutes north of Oamaru with easy access off the main highway (off Mclean St). 4 acres of sunny, north facing park-like grounds in...

Book now

9 /10
From $100
289 Midway Motel

Relax and enjoy a quiet stay in our warm, spacious motel. All units are fully self-contained and very comfortable. Enjoy the pleasant view from you...

Book now

From $40
Apartments at Ocean View & Coral Sea Cottage

Relax on a rural hillside with wonderful views of the ocean, town, harbour and surrounding countryside. Enjoy feeding our pet farm animals and seei...

From $40
Oamaru TOP 10 Holiday Park

When visiting Oamaru and the Waitaki District, make Oamaru Top 10 Holiday Park your base. Located just 3 easy hours drive from Christchurch, Queens...