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Oamaru historic precinct
Travel back in time visiting the lovingly restored buildings and meet the craftspeople that work there today.
Kakanui Coast Road
Contender for mysouthisland's Best Kept Secret Award.
Between Waianakarua and Oamaru, the Kakanui Coast Road follows superb bays and inlets including All Day Bay and Campbells Bay. Fish, swim, laze away the day at the beach. Possibly follow up with a round of golf at the North Otago Golf Club that overlooks the coast.
At the Waianakarua end, check out the SH1 bridge over the Waianakarua River - uniquely double arch and built in 1874 in limestone and may be the oldest bridge on the state highway system. There's information signposted at the parking place beside the railway line about the bridge and the Vanished World tour that you can take.
About 33km south of Oamaru, the Moeraki area boasts the famous Moeraki Boulders, nice sandy beaches, picturesque Moeraki township with renowned restaurant Fleur's Place as well as Katiki Point lighthouse and one of the rarest penguin species, the Yellow-eyed Penguin, on the shore below.
Blue penguin colony and visitor centre
Gather at dusk at the penguin centre to be entertained by their antics as the critters come home from another hard day's fishing.
Purportedly the best viewing opportunity in New Zealand. There's also a good Visitors Centre here.
Geology field trip and the Vanished World Centre
The Oamaru area boasts some outstanding rock formations and you can take guided or self-guided tours. Take in the Vanished World Centre at Duntroon as part of your tour.
Interesting sites include Elephant Rocks at Duntroon, the 'Earthquakes' geological formations on the way to Dansey's Pass, Parkside Oamaru Stone Quarry, the Moeraki Boulders, limestone cliffs between Moeraki and Shag Point.
Don't forget to inspect the Takiroa Maori rock art site just west of Duntroon on SH83.
Fishing, hunting and outdoor activities
The Waitaki River provides great salmon and trout fishing (refer nzfishing.com ) and trout can also be found in some smaller streams like the Waianakarua and Shag Rivers.
There is wild pig and deer in the hills behind Oamaru and over Waimate way you can even hunt wallaby if so inclined.
Hampden fish and chips (and more)
Voted best in the South. Possibly the best in New Zealand? We recommend you try the blue cod. Or the crayfish in season.
Located between Oamaru and Moeraki on SH1. There's a beach, children's playground and campsite at Hampden too. Also, the hills behind offer great views over the coastline and interior.
Oamaru stone sculptor Reid Wilson has a property full of his works on display close to the main road.
Harbour cliff edge walk
Following Grave's Track* will give a great perspective on Oamaru and its harbour. About a kilometre return trip the track starts near the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and offers magnificent views across Oamaru Harbour and out to sea as it traverses the cliff over to Boatman's Harbour. Fur seals often lie near the track entrance, so please proceed carefully. Along the track are WW II buildings, shag colonies and unusual geological features - pillow lava columns from an under-sea volcano which erupted 40-50 million years ago. At low tide you can return via the coast around the headland from Boatman's Harbour.
*Named after the 1920s Oamaru Solicitor and explorer William G. Grave who laboured for seven years, often on his own, to form a track around Cape Wanbrow at the edge of Oamaru's Historic Harbour. The cliff was so steep in places that he had to lower himself from the cliff top by rope to work. The track was eventually completed using gang labour during the Depression of the 1930s.
You can enquire at the Penguin Colony Information Centre for directions.
If you prefer to drive, then there is a lookout at the top of Tyne St at Tamar Street straight up from the Historic Precinct.
Stretching along the Oamaru Creek, the Oamaru Gardens are right by the centre of town and have a high reputation. Established in 1876 and laid out in the Victorian style of themed "rooms", the Gardens offer 13 hectares of magnificent trees, shrubberies, and flower beds. Unique features include the display (glass) house, Mirror Lake, Chinese Gardens, Craig Fountain and the famous Wonderland Statue.
The Oamaru Gardens also have a popular children’s playground, several picnicking areas and a bird aviary and are ideal for walking and jogging.
Historic country homesteads
Oamaru offers an especially good opportunity to take a peek at examples of the fine old homesteads that still grace some of our farmland. Locations include Totara Estate, Burnside Homestead and Elderslie Estate.
Check with the Oamaru i-Site regarding viewing arrangements.