Kaikoura to Oamaru by Jason
This was a big day out. Six or so hours in the car which included a stopover in Quake city - Christchurch. We briefly stopped and deposited five suitcases and bags into my Auntie's Car, which left the car able to breathe again.
It is a lovely trip down the coast road with lots of sea views and rolling green hills. If you have the time, stopover at Timaru, Geraldine or any number of small towns or pubs on the way. One exceptional example of Art Deco Architecture was the hotel at St Andrews which is about 10 minutes south of Timaru, on the main road. There is a story with that pub and how it came to be, but I shall leave that for another day - maybe when we stop there on the way home.
|Old Town, Oamaru|
I hate to say I told you so (Shona), but Oamaru has enthralled me for many years now. For starters its a book lovers paradise, with numerous second hand and rare booksellers at every corner. The town itself is ordinary enough, but as you enter the wharf area, you are transported back in time to the 1880s, where original buildings and trades and quirky shops vie for your attention. No garish discount stores here, just shops that will make you ooh and argh, and argh even more and make you wish you had more money to spend. Hadley purchased a 1974 book on birds New Zealand, which incidentally was the same year the Queen last visited Oamaru ( she looked at the botanic gardens - yawn).
Also in the Victorian part of town, is a wonderful old building that was once five stories high, the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. Alas a fire destroyed the top two stories in the 1920s, so that leaves three stories behind. Within these walls is something you simply have to see as it is unlike anything I have seen before.
|Lovely limestone Victorian buildings of the old town|
Steampunk. I can only describe it as War of the Worlds mixed with the past. It is a wonderful quirky place, it is almost like being in a time capsule or on another planet. The website doesn't give too many clues away and neither shall I, as you simply must go, children will love it too. www.steampunkoamaru.co.nz $20 a family is truly a bargain if you like the macabre, the bizarre, and the astounding.
|The Steampunk Workshop|
Rugby. Rugby. Rugby. Yes its another thing to do in New Zealand. Find a local match and cheer on like the locals do. We were lucky enough to see a match between North Otago and Wairarapa Bush. These are two of the lesser lights of New Zealand Rugby, but all the big hits and the atmosphere were there. Sometimes its good to seek out the things the locals do, like watch the rugby, as it gives one a feeling of being involved in the community, if only for a couple of hours. I cheered North Otago on in vain, alas they lost in a close encounter.
|We cheered on North Otago today (in the yellow)|
Whatever you do, when you come to the South Island, don't just hide in the big cities or the ski resorts, check out Oamaru, it will weave it's magic on you too.
But wait there's more - next blog post - The Blue Penguins of Oamaru!
PS by Shona
We are staying in a gorgeous but tiny (and I do mean tiny) cottage high up on the high above Oamaru. We found it on www.bookabach.co.nz. Sometimes check out the local accommodation websites for something and quirky. This is a great price at only $400 for 7 nights. It has a tiny kitchen, tv, great deck, bathroom and wonderful views! The beds are warm and cosy and it would be lovely for a romantic get away. The nightly rate is only $80. It is on the same property as the owner's house. They are friendly but leave you in peace. They hand-built this little cottage themselves so lots of love and attention has gone into it.
|Our Oamaru accommodation, perched high on the hill above the town, with town and ocean views.|
And Jason did tell me so - once again I have fallen in love with another part of the South Island of New Zealand. I will be busy looking up rent prices and home school groups in the area. I could easily lay my hat here!