January 19, 2023

At Parker & Co, we share a love for travel be it local or global, breaking routine and experiencing the joy that new people, places and cultures bring. On a recent local escape, our owners Lynne & Geoff Parker ventured south to a fabulous little find; Oamaru. 

North of Dunedin, Oamaru is known for its penguin colony and Victorian architecture, as well as offering walking tracks, art galleries and Steampunk HQ. Oamaru Harbour boasts stunning views out to the Pacific Ocean with incredible restaurants, cafes and artisan shopping nearby. 

Interested in a visit? Lynne & Geoff have kindly shared their must-do’s from their stay to inspire us all.

To do

Renowned for marine life in the area, Oamaru’s Blue Penguin colony hosts daily tours, we’d recommend the evening tour where you’ll see near 400 penguins return home from their day’s fishing, up the beach to the colony. Positioned at the end of the wharf in town, book your tickets, grab an early dinner and head down for sunset. Your entry fee supports the conversation of these penguins, contributing to long-term conservation and research programmes.

Oamaru’s Blue Penguin colony

Another must-do in Oamaru is a visit to Steampunk HQ, an art collaboration and gallery in the historic Victorian precinct. This interactive museum promotes sustainability and recycling featuring a collection of retro futuristic sci fi art, movies, sculpture and sound. Lynne describes her visit as like ‘visiting a set for Mad Max’. Our hot tip? Don’t miss The Portal - heralded as the gateway to other dimensions, both real and imagined.

Steampunk HQ

A highlight for Lynne & Geoff was a guided tour of the city by Heritage Walking Tours (ask for Mike) to understand the history of the area and town. Delight in local stories, insights into the architecture, and significant buildings of Oamaru.

Heritage Walking Tours

A half-hour drive out of Oamaru, on the road to Twizel, you’ll find Takiroa, a significant landmark and ancient Maori Rock Art site. This inspiring stop features historic images drawn on limestone caves of abstract forms of bird and animal life, and people.

Maori Rock Art site

To eat

Start your day at the Harbour Street Bakery for a delectable Cronut and the all-important morning coffee.

Harbour Street Bakery

Venture onwards to the Whitestone cheese store where you can order a local beer or wine while you enjoy a tasting plate of locally made cheeses. Lynne & Geoff’s favourites here were the Vintage Five Forks and the Windsor Blue.

The unique and cosy Victoria Lounge makes for a great little cocktail stop on your way out to dinner at the fabulous Cucina. Owners of Cucina restaurant, Yanina and Pablo’s food reflects their heritage and culture of South America, Italy and Spain and supports local businesses by sourcing fresh produce.

Victoria Lounge and Cucina

Left: Victoria Lounge. Right: Cucina.

To drink

Scott’s Brewing Co is an inventive and independent craft brewery producing a gluten free beer and perfectly situated on the waterfront. Grab a pizza and enjoy a night out in their beer garden.

Scott’s Brewing Co

On the banks of the Waitaki River sits River-T wines, a boutique winery owned by Paul and Alisa, who are committed to growing wine in a sustainable way. Lynne & Geoff highly recommend a stop here for a coffee, wine or beer and platter (depending on the time of day!) - and yes the rumours are true, it truly does take two people to serve their platters. The view over the vines to the hills is simply stunning; you’ll want to pop this in your itinerary as the lunch stop after visiting the Takiroa Maori Rock Art site.

River-T wines

To stay

A beautiful bed and breakfast accommodation, Casa Nova House is the oldest stone house in Oamaru, set in stunning gardens that provide a haven of peace and tranquillity. Three bespoke bedrooms are designed to showcase heritage features whilst equipped with modern essentials that we all know and love. A simple stroll downstairs takes you to Restaurant 1861 for a dinner of flavourful tapas-style dishes.

What we packed

Geoff, of course, packed his Moscot Lemtosh Sunglasses and wore his Cutler and Gross 0772V2 for viewing the penguins. He also took his Garrett Leight Brooks sunglasses for when he wanted to mix things up from his Moscot’s.

What Geoff packed for Oamaru

Pictured from left to right: Moscot Lemtosh Sunglasses, Cutler and Gross 0772V2, Garrett Leight Brooks.

Lynne’s Moscot Miltzen with transition lenses took her from day to night. And because one pair of sunglasses is never enough, Dior’s Midnight SF2 and the Dior Signature A3U sunglasses finish of the capsule wardrobe of jeans, blazer and t-shirts.

What Lynne packed for Oamaru

Pictured from left to right: Moscot Miltzen, Dior Midnight SF2, Dior Signature A3U.

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