The little town of Oamaru will offer you a couple of reasons to visit and maybe even stay for a while. It is not only the whitestone townscape with some of the best-preserved heritage buildings in New Zealand, or the active steampunk scene which drives visitors here, it above all are the penguins who give people a reason to stay. At sunset little blue and yellow-eyed penguins waddle ashore to get comfortable for the night. So spent some time in the Harbour-Tyne Street area to enjoy the 19th century atmosphere and do some great shopping until you can head down to the colony to watch the penguins come home.
How to get there?
Oamaru is about a 3 hour drive south of Christchurch and therefore easily can be reached by car. But you can also opt for a nice ride by train to get there.
We only visited Oamaru during the day, but really enjoyed having a walk through the Harbour-Tyne Street area and once you are done with wandering around the old buildings, you can stop at the Steampunk HQ and playground to enjoy yourself.
How long to stay?
Oamaru is not a big city, but especially if you want to watch the penguins coming home after sunset, you should stay over night. So 1 night would be perfect. As we saw some penguins in the wild before, we only visited Oamaru during the day and we think it also is a good destination for a day-trip.
Where to stay?
Accommodation is plenty in Oamaru and for those who travel with a mobile home or camper, there even is a campground right next to the old harbor and super close to the penguin colony. It is called the Harbour Tourist Park. From here it is also super easy to explore the old buildings and the steampunk playground and museum.
Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony Probably the best place to watch the little penguins come home after sunset. You will be seated in an outdoor viewing grandstand and listen to a commentary about the penguins. The place also offers guided tours, even during the day. During the day you can also go there and watch some fur seals hanging around in the sun at the pier. This one is for free, but you can give a donation to the center if you want. Oamaru Farmers’ Market If you visit on a Sunday make sure to check out the Oamaru Farmers’ Market to enjoy some good music, a coffee and some great snacks. The market is open every Sunday between 9.30am and 1pm at the intersection of Wansbeck Street and Tyne Street behind Scott’s Brewery in the Oamaru historic precinct.