Oamaru Historic Harbour Street Victorian Precinct

Harbour Street forms an almost perfectly preserved Victorian era streetscape.

Oamaru Harbourside Station

Oamaru Rail Station

On the cobbled junction of Harbour and Tyne Streets, you are cast back to a time where horse and cart and penny farthings ruled the roads. Oamaru’s harbour precinct is packed with a wealth of late-1800s Victorian neo-classical buildings ornately carved from creamy Oamaru limestone. Streets full of elegant symmetric public buildings line the streets complete with Greek columns, fancy porticoes and stylish windows give an overwhelming sense of yesteryear.

Oamaru Woolstore

The Woolstore is now a cafe, photo shop, car museum and more…

An old rail line runs down the side of the street. The disused rail station looks ready for the midday steam service from Dunedin while a little imagination can hear and smell the thriving harbourside activities as sweat-stained men load sacks of grain and wool onto the waiting ships.

The area is New Zealand’s (and probably the southern hemisphere’s) finest preserved Victorian precinct. While undoubtedly a little seedy and dangerous in its time, to keep these buildings alive, most are given modern purposes and the area is welcoming of all visitors. Some buildings are used by banks, church, the local council and tourist office, while others are handed over to galleries, craft folks, museum, artisans, a hotel, tea shop, foodie delights, bakery and even a bookbinder.

Oamaru Historic 2-8 Harbour Street Victorian Precinct

Once the harbour offices and three grain stores now are cafes, a bakery and more.

Oamaru Annies Victorian Tea Rooms Interior

Annie’s Tea Rooms serve sumptuous morning and afternoon teas

Apart from preserving the buildings, the folks of Oamaru play to its wonderfully preserved Victorian precinct. Quirky folks like a wily bookbinder and Dave Wilson who collects and builds Penny Farthings and offers rides bring to life and add character to this lively area of Oamaru. Some folks appear in period costume, penny farthings are ridden near the harbor, the Criterion Hotel adds an elegance and delightful high teas are served in Annie’s Victorian Tea Rooms(once a drapery) by formally attired ladies and gentlemen in fine porcelain.

Oamaru Victorian Precinct Steampunk HQ

A junk metal train outside Steampunk HQ

A scrap-metal train that looks like an escapee from the Steampunk HQ Museumbelches fire from its chimney. Steampunk is a fantasy museum full of steam-powered creations somehow suiting the Victorian feel to the harbour area.

And just outside town, no Oamaru experience would be complete without tasting the exotic and tasty craft produce (including a sumptuous gooey Camembert) from Whitestone Cheese.

Along with Nelson, Oamaru is an undiscovered travel wonder of New Zealand’s South Island and a relaxed place to visit for a couple of days.

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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