Oamaru Tourist Attractions
Oamaru, 120km north of Dunedin on Cape Wanbrow, is the commercial center of northern Otago. The town rose to great prosperity in the 19th C. The climate is warm and dry. Inland from the town are extensive market gardens; beyond these, further inland, is a region of intensive sheep farming.The white Oamaru limestone worked in many quarries in the surrounding area was used in the construction of many public buildings in New Zealand and even in Australia. The stone is easy to work when freshly quarried but hardens when exposed to dry air.
On the coast at Oamaru there are some delightful, relatively small penguins that can be observed close up. The yellow-eyed penguins are more shy. These birds, associated more with the Antarctic than with New Zealand, are driven in by the waves and waddle along the beach or up the cliffs.
The town's principal sights can be seen on a signposted Historic Walk, which starts from the Boer War memorial in Thames Street. The most notable monuments are the Court House (1883 by Forrester and Lemon), the simple Old Post Office (1864), the imposing New Post Office (1884) with its noticeable clock towers, and the Athenaeum (1882), which houses a small regional museum.
Forrester Art Gallery
Opposite the post offices are two imposing banks designed by RA Lawson, the National Bank (1871) and the Bank of New South Wales (1883), which is now occupied by the Forrester Art Gallery.
Notable churches are St Luke's (1865; Anglican), at the corner of Itchen Street and Thames Street, St Paul's (1876; Presbyterian), in Coquet Street, and St Patrick's Basilica (1893; RC), in Usk Street.
There are a few natural attractions in the Oamaru surrounding area.
8km south of Oamaru on Highway 1 is the Totara Estate, where frozen meat was first produced in this area. Visitors can see the old slaughterhouses and production plant. The trim farmhouse (1868) stands in the shade of tall trees. On the nearby hill is a monument to Thomas Brydone, who established frozen-meat production in this area.
4km further south is Clark's Mill (1865), the only surviving watermill in the Oamaru area, now preserved as an industrial monument.
The pretty fishing village of Moeraki has a mainly Maori population. In the past there was a whaling station here.
35km south of Oamaru, scattered about on the beach, are the Moeraki Boulders - massive spherical rocks up to 3m in diameter and weighing several tonnes. In Maori tradition they are calabashes and food baskets thrown ashore from the ancestral canoe long ago and since turned to stone.The scientific explanation is that the boulders were formed on the seabed millions of years ago by the deposit of chemical concretions on hard cores. When the seabed was thrust upwards they were washed out of the softer rock by the surf and left on the beach. Some of them are still embedded in the rock. The net patterns on the surface of the boulders were produced by the extrusion of yellow calcites.Although the boulders are strictly protected as natural monuments, the smaller ones, regrettably, are steadily eroding.