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Art & Heritage

Oamaru Victorian precinct what to do, attractions

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@Oamaru's Victorian Precinct

An Otago, South Island bucket list destination

Intact Oamaru’s Victorian town precinct is a must-visit attraction for heritage fans with magnificent whitestone buildings echoing the wealth of the 19th century pastoral economy. Things to do range from shopping in galleries and boutique delis with a sci-fantasy twist to traditional crafts. A garden trug basket anyone? Enjoy time in the Steampunk world where imagination has free reign and wander along the wharf for the possibility of a glimpse of the most famous inhabitants, the blue penguin. Oamaru is a South Island bucket list destination.

Original harbour buildings Oamaru, New Zealand


  • WHITESTONE CITY an interactive touch, climb and experience activity museum
  • VICTORIAN DRESS UP – get into the part, pop on the costume and grab a selfie
  • STEAMPUNK, A reimagined 19th century fantasy world
  • Shopping and galleries – gifts for the hard to find or yourself
  • Victorian gardens – flowering display beds, fountains and manicured lawns


Crinoline dresses, waistcoats and a nifty swirling parasol add a dash of glamour to Whitestone City. Gloved hands sweep cards onto the gambling table with a smile on the lips as visitors engage with the costumed assistants. Whitestone is a replica colonial town with activities from skittles, croquet and cards to shops stocked with goods reminiscent of the era.


Victorian etiquette led to female shop assistants dressed to impress with hats, feathers and gloves.


The interactive museum encourages visitors to participate in stories about the growth of Oamaru. Set in an authentic grain store (1882) and located in the heart of the Victorian precinct the living museum is a must-do for visitors.


Get someone in your group, or yourself to try out a penny farthing.

B10 Steam Loco 1924 in the workshops of the Oamaru Steam and Rail Restoration Society, Otago, New Zealand
B10 Steam Loco 1924 in the workshops of the Oamaru Steam and Rail Restoration Society

Visiting Oamaru and getting into the Victorian vibe and want something else to do?

Catch the local train. The Oamaru Steam & Rail volunteers enthusiastically maintain and manage heritage train trips from Harbourside Railway Station in Itchen Street in Oamaru. After leaving the Station, you travel through the Victorian Precinct, past some of Oamaru’s oldest buildings and then through the old railway yard and past the site of Oamaru’s first Railway Station. The train then runs along the bottom of clay cliffs, beside Oamaru’s Victorian Harbour. Check Oamaru Steam & Rail for timetable

Oamura really knows how to get into the swing of things with all things Victoriana celebrated in the annual Victorian Heritage Celebrations – several days scheduled around the third Sunday of November with a Fete Day on the Sunday.


Get into the mood with your own costume and join the parade through the vintage Victorian gardens.


Oamaru’s heritage runs deep with attractions close by worthy of attention. Totara Estate’s glorious early twentieth century farm buildings and slaughter house warrant a visit as a category 1 heritage site. Find out more about Maori rock art and spend a day on a heritage trail.


Vying with Whitestone City is Steampunk HQ.

Steampunk is imagination welded to sci-fantasy. The creation is an alternative vision of the birth of the modern age. The 19th century explosion of ideas that drove the industrial revolution is the fuse for steampunk. Imagine a heritage steam train fused to a twirling, whirling flying machine and park the device at the entrance to the Victorian precinct and you are hooked.

Tourist attraction vintage locomotive on display at Steampunk Museum in Oamaru, New Zealand
Steampunk Museum in Oamaru

Climb and try to take off is definitely encouraged at Steampunk HQ.

@Oamaru's Victorian Precinct
@Oamaru's Victorian Precinct

Oamaru’s Victorian precinct is the perfect setting for steampunk, as the architecture is a great backdrop for this alternative version of 19th century England. The interactive, touch it, clamber over the device and take a selfie museum is fun for everyone from the toddler to whatever. Steampunk is a collection of retro-futuristic sci-fi art, movies, sculpture and sound.

Allow a minimum of an hour to visit the museum. Admission fees apply.


Would like a place to munch down on treats acquired at the deli check out the intact Victorian gardens gracing Oamaru.


The Victorian precinct is part of the 31 Things to Do in Oamaru: A Guide to the Town’s Best Attractions and Activities and remember to check Oamaru travel facts to get your holiday off to an excellent start.



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