The road south of Christchurch is straight and flat, quite unlike many in New Zealand. If it is a good day, and we were lucky to be blessed with sunny weather, you can see the Southern Alps as you drive along. Our goal was Oamaru, an historic town of around 12,000 people, located about 3 hours drive from Christchurch on the east coast.
The waterfront at Oamaru
We arrived just in time for lunch, and after eating at the Star and Garter, labelled Oamaru’s oldest restaurant, we took a walk around the old historic part of the town. Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct, situated around Harbour Street area, was the original commercial and business district of Oamaru and served as the central point for trade through the old port of the town. The buildings you can see today were grain and seed warehouses which served the agricultural sector in the area during the latter half of the 19th century and are built of locally quarried limestone. These days, the buildings house antique and curio shops, and some craft workshops. There is even a whisky tasting room.
One of the Victorian buildings
The Victorian Precinct
One fun thing that you shouldn’t miss if in Oamaru is Steamppunk HQ, labelled New Zealand’s premiere steampunk attraction. Steampunk for those of you who don’t know, is a genre of science fiction that features steam-powered technology. The few books I have read of this genre, are set in some sort of alternative version of Victorian Britain, with computers powered by steam and a dark atmosphere. Anyway, regardless of whether you are familiar with Steampunk or not, this is well worth a visit. Some fantastic sculptures and a lot to see (and lots of interactive exhibits too).
Karl at the entrance to Steampunk HQ
The back of the train
What we didn’t do in Oamaru: watch the penguins come out of the sea. We should have really….(check the website about the blue penguin colony here).
Where we stayed: Glendale Bed and Breakfast
As you drive up to the house (on the left below), you know you are going to stay somewhere special. Sitting in beautiful grounds, this Edwardian house still has the original tiles around the fireplaces and retains the character of the original house. Our room was huge, with a lovely view. Breakfast was cooked or continental and served in a dining room downstairs. Our hosts, Sue and Dave, were friendly and welcoming. I would highly recommend this to anyone wanting a nice, quiet (and let’s admit it, romantic) place to stay.
Where we ate dinner: Scotts Brewing Company
Scotts Brewing produce the only gluten free beer in New Zealand – didn’t even know there was gluten in beer. Anyway, I tasted the Vienna lager, which tasted very European and Karl had both the Golden Ale and NZ Pale Ale, both of which got good reviews. We had intended to just have a quick drink sitting outside, but we decided to stay and eat pizza. The one I had had a good amount of olives, which I love. This place is definitely well worth a visit should you be in Oamaru.
Dine surrounded by beer…