Just another small town along the highway? Not at all! Oamaru is the most amazing town we have seen so far. Before you enter it, an old rusty tank announces the entrance of the 'Steampunk Capital of NZ'. That made us curious, but we thought it is just a small movement of Steampunks who take that claim because they are the only ones to represent that style in Kiwi country. It does look like any other small town at first – but as soon as you get closer to the waterfront, it reveals its magic.Whole streets consist of victorian style buildings with beautiful ornaments, artful pillars and rustic wooden interior. Old carriages stand in the middle of the street and from time to time you see someone riding a 19th century style bicycle (huge front wheels, tiny rear wheels) as if it were completely normal. The oldest street is filled with shops selling handmade wares of all kinds – here you get the first glimpses of Steampunk jewellery and clothing, and the shop owners proudly present their wares by wearing them.
Vintage cars are found on every corner, not only for watching but for everyday use, as is common in New Zealand (everything that doesn't literally fall apart gets a warrant of fitness here). Rounding the streetcorner to the wharf, some seemingly random industrial gear stands rusting on the railway lines and lies scattered around it. At a closer look you find the aging metal painted or otherwise turned into artworks.
Most fascinating is the 'Steampunk HQ', situated at the end of the old wharf street and definitely the Steampunk centre of town. A group of artists has turned it into a gallery of rusted steel, dark sculpture, weird installations and spooky lights. It boasts with an old train car in front of it, ridden by metal skeletons and adorned with all kinds of weapons to its sides. A 2$ coin makes it come to life, roar up and spit steam. The 10$ entry is more than worth the bizarre experience.
Inside, we had a hard time getting our eyes off all the curious artworks, ranging from an alchemists table to the sculpture of 'the dark emperor and his children', over mesmerizing video installations, a 'dooms day clock' etc etc. See for yourselves...