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5 Oamaru Must-Dos


Things you can’t miss in Oamaru town!

Oamaru is one of the South Island’s quirkiest towns! With its Victorian heritage buildings, this has inspired the locals to create some entertaining attractions that you’ll not want to miss. What’s more, Oamaru is also an attraction for wildlife, so if you’re dying to see penguins, in particular, this is your place! So what are the Oamaru must-dos?

Although there are so many awesome things to do in Oamaru, which we list in our Oamaru & Waitaki – Guide for Backpackers, we have squished down the offerings to a concise “5 Must-Dos”! However, if you do have more time in Oamaru, be sure to venture up the Waitaki Valley to see an array of unusual rock formations, fossils and Maori rock art.

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1. Check out the Victorian Precinct

Oamaru looks a little different from any other town in New Zealand. You’ll definitely feel like you’ve left New Zealand and been transported back in time as you wander the Victorian Precinct. There are a lot of quirky shops and eateries in the precinct too which makes it worth spending time there. If you’re able to time your trip right, see the Victorian Precinct during the Victorian Fete in mid-November where visitors and locals alike dress up in their best Victorian attire!

Location: Victorian Precinct, Oamaru town centre.

2. See the Little Blue Penguins

Backpackers are not the only ones to love Oamaru. The world’s smallest species of penguins, little blue penguins, love Oamaru too! The best viewing of the penguins can be found at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony with seating set-up around a little blue penguin colony nesting site. Watch the penguins return from the sea in groups as the sun goes down. Alternatively, find yourself a place to sit on the Oamaru waterfront at dusk and chances are you will spot at least one little blue penguin. (Remember to give the penguins as much space as possible in order not to disturb their natural behaviour).

Location: Waterfront Road, Oamaru

3. Step into the world of Steampunk

As you might have guessed, Oamaru has an obsession with all things Victorian including the science fiction genre of steampunk! Steampunk is about all things “steam-powered”, just like in the Victorian age, but with a futuristic twist. This has inspired some amazing art and inventions that you can check out at Steampunk HQ. Take a look at some crazy creations inside and outside, as well as the ever-memorable “Portal” which is the closest you’ll get to feeling like a time-traveller.

Location: Tyne Street, Oamaru

4. Sample some delicious cheese

Oamaru is the home of Whitestone Cheese, an award-winning brand of cheese in New Zealand. Take a cheese factory tour to see how the good stuff is made or relax in the cafe and sample their creamy and delicious cheese platters.

Location: 3 Torridge Street, Oamaru

5. Go to the lookout at Bushy beach

Bushy Beach is not only a fantastic photo opportunity with its long-stretching sandy beach backed with coastal forest, but it’s also another great place in Oamaru to spot some wildlife. Follow a 10-minute zig-zag track to the top of a cliff with some great viewing of a seal colony on the rocks below. Continue onwards to a viewing hide where you can watch yellow-eyed penguins on the beach (usually between 3pm and 9am). For more places to see penguins in New Zealand, check out this article.

Location: South Hill. Take Tyne Street all the way up South Hill then turn right onto Bushy Beach Road and follow it all the way to the end.

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