Famed for its colony of blue penguins, Oamaru is the largest town in North Otago. It’s home to a fantastical steampunk museum and 19th-century public gardens and is near the world-renowned Moeraki Boulders.
Things to do in Oamaru
Explore the creative contraptions and art installations at Steampunk HQ, a unique art gallery in the former Meeks Grain Elevator Building. Admire the coin-operated "steampunk" engine that greets visitors outside the building, then witness the bizarre machinery and converted train carriages displayed inside.
Want to see some of the smallest penguins in the world? Visit the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony to watch as they waddle to shore at dusk while you listen to live commentary. Alternatively, visit during the day to explore their nesting environment and view the nesting boxes while learning about the unique lifestyle of the blue penguin.
Stroll through the historic Oamaru Public Gardens to see colourful flower beds, native gardens and grassy lawns that stretch around Oamaru Creek. Visit the centrepiece rose garden and wander across the bright-red bridge of the Chinese garden, then admire the Italian marble fountain on the main entrance lawns.
Marvel at the Moeraki Boulders, a group of naturally eroded spherical boulders along a stretch of beach to the south of Oamaru. Learn about the Maori legend of the Arai-te-uru sailing canoe, whose contents were washed ashore during a wreck and transformed into the boulders seen today.
Getting around Oamaru
Oamaru is around 1.5 hour’s drive north of Dunedin Airport and three hours from Christchurch Airport, with trains connecting to the centre of Christchurch. Oamaru lies at the end of the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail from Aoraki/Mount Cook and the town centre is compact enough to explore on foot.