Tips about best playgrounds and places to visit
No trudging for hours promising the kids it’s going to be great. Oamaru’s Victorian precinct is compact, flat and easy to navigate with plenty of cafes and places to take a break for tired little legs. Kids will adore the imaginative Steampunk interactive centre or the opportunity to watch an adult try out the enormous penny farthing bicycle at the Whitestone Centre. Being quiet while waiting for blue penguins is not difficult as the waddling ambassadors for conservation win hearts and minds.
HOW MUCH TIME IS NEEDED FOR FAMILIES TO VISIT OAMARU?
Allow 12 hours to visit Steampunk HQ, wander through Whitestone City interactive museum and spend time waiting for the blue penguins to return to their nests in the early evening. For kids interested in geology, fossils and extraordinarily shaped rocks a Waitaki geological exploration day trip is a good idea.
TIPS FOR VISITING WAITAKI GEOPARK CENTRE & GEO-TRAIL WITH KIDS?
- Tell the kids you are driving on an ancient seabed where giant penguins and whales once thrived
- Going to find elephant rocks where nature sculptured elephants out of limestone
- Visit Kurow with its blacksmith shop, cafes and nearby amazing Omarama Clay Cliffs
- Pack plenty of water and snacks for the day trip
HAVE YOU GOT KIDS INTERESTED IN WILDLIFE & CONSERVATION?
Oamaru is an ideal place to visit a place where wild penguins nest and how conservation volunteers work hard to minimise predators that threaten penguins’ well-being. Check out the wildlife trail with an emphasis on Moeraki boulders and Katiki Lighthouse Reserve. This is a trip combining a very well-known Instagram highlight and a lesser-known conservation reserve for penguins.
HAVE YOU GOT KIDS WHOSE IDEA OF A GREAT HOLIDAY IS VISITING THE OAMARU PLAYGROUNDS?
Oamaru Public Gardens, Chelmer Street, Oamaru is an easy half day excursion with picnic spots, a contemporary playground and Victorian bird aviary. The playground has BBQ facilities as well as a paddling pool.
STEAMPUNK PLAYGROUND, FRIENDLY BAY, OAMARU
Oamaru’s ‘steampunk’ playground opened in 2011 and is located next to the historic Victorian precinct. The contemporary playground echoes the fantasy world of Steampunk HQ with gymnastics equipment to swing from and a vaulting horse. The pirate ship overlooks the harbour walkway and the penny farthing swing set is a local kids favourite.
There are no toilets at this playground although there is parking.
RIVERSTONE KITCHEN & GARDENS + PLAYGROUND
Riverstone kitchen practices garden to plate culture with a very large garden open to the public. There are wandering peacocks, wooden forts to explore, a merry-go-round and diggers in a sand pit.
The family friendly menu is definitely a step up from the standard chicken nuggets with slow roasted pork and roast chicken.
CAN YOU TOUR THROUGH RIVERSTONE CASTLE, OAMARU?
The castle is generally closed to the public however tours are held occasionally. For future dates, you can follow Riverstone Castle on Facebook.
WAITAKI RIVER SWIMMING & FISHING
Explore one of the South Island’s natural treasures, the braided Waitaki River. The inland route to the Mackenzie country (SH82) passes many swimming spots. Perhaps go jet boating with Braided River Jet Boating. For details about the river and the shady places by Lake Aviemore or Benmore check out Waitaki River, three dams. The Waitaki River is the natural border between Otago and Canterbury with Southern Canterbury Rivers (inland SH82 route), Hakataramea River another swimming destination for Oamaru locals.
Lake Waitaki has clear lake water and is a popular swimming, boating and fishing location. The gorgeous willow trees create dappled shade perfect for a picnic.
WILL KIDS ENJOY THE WAITAKI VALLEY HERITAGE TRAIL?
Yes, there are plenty of family attractions on the Waitaki Valley heritage trail. At Totara Estate there is a dress up collection for kids in the cooks kitchen with heritage sheep in the nearby paddock. Check opening hours for Nicol’s blacksmith shop for kids to witness a forge in action with the hammering of steel to make horseshoes.
WHAT IS A HORSESHOE?
The horse’s hooves can be worn down, hence the need for a horseshoe. Manufactured from iron the circular iron shoe is attached to the hoof with nails. The nails do not hurt the horse at all as the hoof is formed from keratin; the same as your fingernails. Horseshoes are considered to be lucky due to their crescent shape.
And remember to click through31 Things to Do in Oamaru: A Guide to the Town’s Best Attractions and Activities for more information about what to see and places to visit in Oamaru and Waitaki Valley.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE