Oamaru – Historic Precinct

It’s always a pleasure to visit Oamaru’s Historic Precinct, it’s like stepping back in time, with it’s beautiful old buildings, cobbled streets, quirky markets and shops. This time it was a long weekend day out, taking in the Steampunk market, and a wander through the old streets on a gorgeous winter day. Followed by fish and chips and a walk and swim for the dogs at the beach at Kakanui on the way home – magic!!!

The Historic Precinct is the original commercial area of Oamaru and largely built during the 1870s to 1890s, it remains today New Zealand’s most complete Victorian streetscape. The large and impressively decorated buildings were constructed of the locally quarried limestone. Many public buildings are built from local limestone (quarried especially near Weston) and known as Oamaru Stone.

The Victorian theme has been embraced by local shops and galleries in this part of Oamaru in terms of shop fittings and decor. Further enhancing the “olden days” feel of the precinct are several arts & crafts shops, a transportation museum, an antique shops, and traditional businesses such as book shops, antique clothing shops, and a book binder.  Many of the buildings in this area close to the harbour used to serve as commercial warehouses and stores and now provide large spaces for galleries and Steampunk HQ. Even the playgrounds in the harbour area continue the Victorian/industrial  theme with a giant Penny Farthing structure supporting the swings, and several Steampunk-styled playground features. But that’s another post, on our next visit.

DSC_0010 (2)DSC_0014 (2)  The Criterion Hotel – Soak up the atmosphere in the bar, have a meal or snack or stay a night in the restored hotel accommodation.

DSC_0021DSC_0015 (2)DSC_0022 A bakery,  glass shop, Victorian clothes and galleries DSC_0024 (2)Lots of interesting galleries and shops and a penny farthing you can sit on and get you photo taken.DSC_0023DSC_0029 DSC_0028  The very unusual Grain Store GalleryDSC_0031DSC_0034 (2) DSC_0033 (2)DSC_0032 (2) Beautiful old buildings, house galleries shops and businessesDSC_0035 (2)  One of my favorite buildings is the Wool and Grain Warehouse, I  love the detail around the doors and windows.DSC_0037 (4)  DSC_0037 (2) DSC_0040 (2)The owners of the The New Zealand Whisky Company identified Oamaru’s historic Harbour Precinct as an ideal seaside climate for whisky maturation. They decanted over 200 barrels of Dunedin distilled single grain whisky out of American bourbon barrels and into French oak NZ wine barrels. The Dunedin DoubleWood was born. Eight years on, The New Zealand Whisky Collection is proud to present The Oamaruvian – specially selected casks chosen for their rich toffee, floral nose and creaming soda mouth-feel with a hint of Oamaru sea spray to finish.

DSC_0041 - Copy (2) The New Zealand Whisky Company Restaurant

DSC_0044 (2)DSC_0020The Woolstore complex, cafe, shops and transport museum.
DSC_0019 (2)  A book binders, book shop and other businesses DSC_0018The Criterion Hotel a great example of the dedication that has gone into restoring these beautiful buildings.
DSC_0002 (2)Steampunk  HQ -The building was originally called Meeks Grain Elevator, built in 1883 . Oamaru was at that time a flourishing sea port, and bigger than Los Angeles.

DSC_0008 (2)Steampunk is a quirky and fun genre of science fiction that features steam-powered technology. It is often set in an alternate, futuristic version of 19th century Victorian England.  Oamaru is an ideal setting for Steampunk art and activities, given the wonderfully preserved and thriving Victorian buildings.
DSC_0007 (2) DSC_0006 (2) DSC_0004 (2)DSC_0011 (2) Lots of people dressed up for the occasion, if it wasn’t for the guy in the doorway this could have been 100 years ago!!

Don’t just pass through Oamaru,  next time you are in the area – call in to the Historic Precint either on one of the open days, on Sunday’s when there is a small market and farmers market, or any time you are in the area or just want a great day out.

On our next visit I will take some photos of the inside of some of these buildings and the playground – watch this space 🙂










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