I had to go to Dunedin last week. I’ll show you some shots of Dunedin soon and I’ll be doing a restaurant review too. We drove back from Dunedin through Oamaru and Timaru. I was stunned by Oamaru. Never seen a town like it.

My first impression was it reminded me a bit of the EUR area in Rome. (The EUR stands for Esposizione Universale Roma and was built in 1942 to celebrate 20 years of Fascism. Mussolini wanted it as the site for the 1942 World Fair but a little quarrel known as World War Two got in the way. The EUR is now a residential and business district. Quite expensive too).

Oamaru reminded me of the EUR because of the monolithic buildings studded across the landscape; the wonderful wide streets; and the white/light coloured stonework of the buildings. And the eerie feeling that you’re a tiny speck standing amongst huge buildings. Oamaru had a special quality to it – I felt like I was going back in time to the Wild West Frontier with a Victorian Steampunk flavour. I was expecting a few tumbleweeds to roll on down the main street.

I absolutely loved the wide open spaces, the architecture and the whole Steampunk business. Steampunk, for me, is basically Victorian science fiction. Love anything steampunked up, so it was wonderful to see a huge building emerging out of the landscape – Steampunk HQ. Just near this building is an area that’s kind of like The Rocks in Sydney. Here you can find an art gallery or two, antique shops, a shop stuffed full of handmade soaps and creams, an amazing bakery, and a workshop where a local sculptor carves stunning pieces from Oamaru limestone. Sadly, I couldn’t visit Steampunk HQ as it is closed during Winter.

We stayed in the town overnight and I’ll do a post on the hotel, which was quirky I must say. And I probably had the best dinner out I’ve had in ages at a place called Star & Garter. I was told that this restaurant is one of New Zealand’s oldest restaurants, serving continuously for 100 years.

An interesting fact about Oamaru is that Australia’s third Prime Minister, Chris Watson, went to school in Oamaru. Frankly, never heard of Chris Watson despite studying Aussie history and being an Aussie. Must have missed that lesson!

We’re seriously considering Oamaru as a potential place for us. The drawback is that when you want to fly out, you have to go to Dunedin (about 1.5 hours) or Christchurch International airport (about 3 hours). This would add some hours to any long haul flight.

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Steampunk HQ.

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