A night in Oamaru

After spending the night in the splendour of the Southern Alps and an amazing morning on the Tasman Lake, we drove Southeast towards Oamaru. Oamaru, an old farming town, is in the Waitaki District and a convenient spot to spend the night before heading on to Dunedin.  Oamaru is also home to some fun attractions, including the famed Steampunk HQ, more on that later…

Where did we stay

I wanted a clean, cheap motel that would house us in two separate bedrooms. Once again Tripadvisor reviews came up trump again through recommending the AAA Thames Court Motel. I booked a ‘Family Apartment’ through their website and we enjoyed a main bedroom with double bed, kitchenette, bathroom and separate second bedroom.

What did we do?

  • Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct is a lovely stretch to wander around.  There are lots of interesting galleries, craft and book shops.
  • There’s a brilliant children’s playground on the Esplanade, the ‘Oamaru Friendly Bay Playground’. In keeping with the Victorian theme, there’s even giant Penny Farthing which acts as a frame for the swing.
  • If the weather’s nice, there’s a little stretch of beach in front of the playground, aka ‘Friendly Bay’. There’s also a funky little coffee shop, The Galley which is close by.
  • “Steampunk” was coined in the 1980s and is based on imagining inventions the Victorians might have created for the modern world. Steampunk HQ is home to a mind-boggling array of steampunk art from sculpture to light and sound experiences. My kids loved this crazy place, especially ‘The Portal’, an interesting lighting/mirror installation.
  • A 30 minute drive South of Oamaru are the Moeraki Boulders. These are strange spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach. Unfortunately for us the Boulders were mobbed with tourists and so we didn’t really experience their beauty to the fullest.
  • However, a little further south of the Moeraki Boulders is Shag Point which truly is stunning. I am thankful to the friend who recommended we make the small detour or we may have missed out! Shag Point is a great cliff top viewing point for spying seals and if you’re lucky whales or dolphins!

Where did we eat?

  • Delicious dinner at the Star & Garter restaurant. They offer up enormous portions, especially for kids! The restaurant is also a convenient 5 minute walk to the Friendly Bay Playground.
  • We dropped by Rainbow Confectionary, hoping for a Willy Wonka style experience. Unfortunately we were a bit disappointed as it transpires it’s just a factory shop and no tour.


For more on our South Island Adventure





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