Barry’s Bay cheese is made with local milk and you can go to the factory and taste it. It’s a lot nicer than most of the mainstream cheese in New Zealand. That’s damning it with faint praise, I know, but for some reason (DESPITE ALL THE BLOODY COWS AND SHEEP), New Zealand doesn’t make cheese nearly as well as Britain or France. Or even Spain.
We arrived in Oamaru on a Wednesday evening and it was pretty quiet, with few locals in the street. They were outnumbered by a coachload of Asian tourists who were drifting around. The most obvious attraction in Oamaru is the little blue penguin colony at the end of Friendly Bay (see my earlier post).
Here are some of the other things to do in Oamaru:
1. Spot trains.
2. Walk around the independent shops in the Victorian precinct. There was a building boom between 1875 and 1883 when Oamaru was a busy port, making a lot of money from wool & grain exports and using the local limestone to put up some pretty impressive buildings.
3. Dress up like a Victorian (there was a festival the weekend after we were there in November).
4. Get into the steampunk
5. Drink beer. You can go to the oldest pub in town, The Criterion, which has Emerson beers on tap. Or you can go to Fat Sally’s, which seems to be a Speights Alehouse in disguise, but had cheap beer and a quiz on a Wednesday. Or you can go to our favourite, which was the Scotts Brewery. This was in an old railway shed. The owners had wanted to put the brewery in one of the old Victorian buildings, but they couldn't get insurance for an old stone building.
6. Drink some whiskey. There is an award-winning whiskey company in the old town.
7. Walk along the esplanade and see lots of shags (cormorants) and seals.
8. Walk near the beaches at night and see penguins or you can go and see them at the covered area. They have given the penguins nesting boxes here and they even have their own gardener.
9. Go secondhand shopping, although the op shops are so much more expensive than in Christchurch. There is, however, a really good secondhand store that has well-organised old tools and bric-a-brac, etc, with very fair prices (unlike the very expensive but beautifully organised Hampden store just down the road from Oamaru).
10. Check out the small, but lovely Forrester Gallery, which has some Colin Wheeler paintings as well as other artwork from Oamaru and around.