OamaruNew Zealand

Image for Oamaru featuring street scenes and heritage architecture

Relive the grandeur of Victorian-era prosperity and come face-to-face with waddling penguins as you explore North Otago’s largest town.

Pause for a while in the slow-moving coastal town of Oamaru to discover fascinating archaeological sites, 19th-century architecture and a harbour inhabited by yellow-eyed penguins. Oamaru is the largest town in the North Otago region and has played an important role in the South Island’s cultural fabric since the late 19th century. At one time the humble town was one of the most prosperous in the Pacific, helped by a boom in resources including gold, timber and stone. While the boom didn’t last to the end of the century, the results remain visible in Oamaru’s lavish streetscapes.

With views across the Pacific Ocean from its picturesque harbour, Oamaru’s natural beauty matches its man-made charm. Nestle yourself into a penguin hide to watch as yellow-eyed penguins clamber ashore at sunset or head out to sea at dawn. Drive about 40 minutes south of town to the Shag Point Scenic Reserve or the Moeraki Lighthouse for more penguins. Join local fishermen at the harbour to venture out to sea on a charter to see dolphins playing at the bow of the boat.

With great fishing comes great seafood. Oamaru is the site of many prominent restaurants. Enjoy freshly caught fish coupled with a glass of wine from one of New Zealand’s well-known grape-growing regions. Afterwards, take in a performance at the Oamaru Opera House, which dates back to 1907. For cultural curiosities, visit the Grainstore Gallery for local live music and an atmosphere that is unrivalled in the town.

Located just a 90-minute drive north of Dunedin, Oamaru can be visited as a daytrip. Enjoy a longer visit to be rewarded with a unique New Zealand experience away from the crowds of the South Island’s major natural attractions. Accommodation is plentiful in the area. Discover several restaurants and cafés in the heart of town.

Top hotels in Oamaru

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Brydone Hotel Oamaru
Brydone Hotel Oamaru
3.5 out of 5
115 Thames Street, Oamaru
£76
per night
Mar 9 - Mar 10

Located in the heart of Oamaru, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 5-minute walk of North Otago Museum, Forrester Gallery and St Lukes Anglican Church. Woolstore ...

4.1/5Very Good! (281 reviews)

"Located near the historical area of interests of oamaru"…"

Reviewed on 2 Feb 2020

Brydone Hotel Oamaru
Ascot Oamaru Motel
Ascot Oamaru Motel
3 out of 5
500a Thames Highway, Oamaru
£60
per night
Mar 25 - Mar 26

Situated in Oamaru, this motel is within 3 miles (5 km) of Whitestone Cheese Factory, North Otago Museum and Forrester Gallery. Janet Frame House and Oamaru ...

3.7/5Good! (167 reviews)

"spaces room, perfact. overall good, but, may be there was a mouse at the property. on main road and just a bit further to town centre"…"

Reviewed on 16 Feb 2020

Ascot Oamaru Motel
Oamaru Motor Lodge
Oamaru Motor Lodge
4 out of 5
391 Thames Highway, Oamaru
£81
per night
Feb 28 - Feb 29

Situated in Oamaru, this motel is within 2 miles (3 km) of Whitestone Cheese Factory, Forrester Gallery and Janet Frame House. North Otago Museum and Woolstore ...

4.8/5Exceptional! (393 reviews)

"Good location, with good off street parking. Clean and tidy, staff were friendly."…"

Reviewed on 14 Feb 2020

Oamaru Motor Lodge

Popular things to do in Oamaru

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony
Image for Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

5/5(2 reviews)

Explore the great outdoors at Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, a lovely green space in Oamaru. Amble around the area's marina or experience its museums.

Steampunk HQ
Image for Steampunk HQ

Steampunk HQ

4.5/5(4 reviews)

Try out interactive displays, marvel at intricate creations, get lost in a light show or just have some bizarre fun at this art gallery with a difference.

Oamaru Harbour
Image for Oamaru Harbour

Oamaru Harbour

4.5/5(6 reviews)

Explore the waterfront in Oamaru with a trip to Oamaru Harbour. Amble around the area's waterfront or experience its museums.

Blue-Penguin Colony
Image for Blue-Penguin Colony

Blue-Penguin Colony

4.5/5(2 reviews)

You can find out about the history of Oamaru when you stop by Blue-Penguin Colony. Stroll along the marina or experience the area's museums.

Grainstore Gallery
Image for Grainstore Gallery

Grainstore Gallery

Delve inside the minds of a group of local artists as you explore the curiosities of this fascinating gallery, housed within a former Victorian grain store.

Bushy Beach
Image for Bushy Beach

Bushy Beach

3.5/5(3 reviews)

If a restful holiday is part of your travel plans, Bushy Beach might be the perfect place to visit during your trip to Oamaru. Experience the area's museums and art scene.

Top activities in Oamaru

Guided Tour & Cheese Tasting
Image for Guided Tour & Cheese Tasting

Guided Tour & Cheese Tasting

£15
Per adult
Guided Tour with Cheese & Wine Pairing
Image for Guided Tour with Cheese & Wine Pairing

Guided Tour with Cheese & Wine Pairing

£23
Per adult

Reviews of Oamaru

4.2

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
3
5 - Excellent 33.333333333333336%
4 - Good
5
4 - Good 55.55555555555556%
3 - Okay
1
3 - Okay 11.11111111111111%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Mar 16, 2019

We just stayed on our 28 day tour of the island

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Mar 16, 2019

We were last in Oamaru 10 years ago. The town is definitely busier and seems more prosperous. Tourist facilities really great and interesting. Really enjoyed our visit.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Mar 11, 2019

A great town with very interesting victorian buildings.well worth a short visit

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Feb 16, 2019

Lots to do in Oamaru and very central for travelling.