Great Southern Lands (part 2) – Temuka, Timaru and Oamaru

And on to part two of our Southern road trip. This time, some of the area between Christchurch and Dunedin.


We stopped a while in Temuka on our way. Before this, I don’t think I’ve ever stopped in Temuka before. There’s a bypass that goes just to the side of the centre of the town, so I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen the main street of Temuka before. Which is a shame, as it’s quite a cute little town. It even has pillars flanking the road at either end of (4 blocks of) the main street.

I indulged in poking around the second-hand stores (of which there were three – I got to look in two of them, the other was closed on Mondays. Temuka is quite a small town, after all) while Steve wandered around and took photos of things that caught his eye.

This building used to be the Temuka Post Office, way back when. It’s a common thing to see in a lot of towns – a huge old turn-of-the-century building that was made especially to be the Post Office. Often, they’re the biggest and grandest building in the town. I love them, although it does make me a little sad to see them as well, since they indicate times when the town was a lot bigger and wealthier than it is now.

One thing that always interests me is how those old Post Office buildings are used these days. The one in Temuka is now a fashion clothing store. How cool is that?!?

It always amuses me to see the juxtapositions of old and modern like this.


Timaru and Akaroa used to compete with each other back in the 1920’s – 1940’s to be the main summer holiday destination for this part of the country. Timaru has a lovely beach, called Caroline Bay, and it’s been set up as a resort/holiday spot since the beginning of last century (they’ve held carnivals there each year since 1911). There’s promenades, a band rotunda, sound shell, board walks, gardens, fountains, sculptures, lookout areas for watching the social world go by. And these days there’s also things like bumper boats, children’s play grounds, and a skate park. Like Temuka, Timaru is a place I’ve never really looked at before. Sure, I’ve driven through it countless times, but never stopped. Heck knows why – it’s a lovely town.

To help it’s ‘Riviera of the South’ marketing plan from around the 1930’s, there’s a bit of a Mediterranean influence creeping in to a few of the buildings and trees overlooking Caroline Bay. (It vanishes after about a block and reverts back to ‘old South Island town’ styles.)

Stairs leading up from Caroline Bay to the main street. (There’s also an elevator – it’s in that round glass-paneled column towards the right.)

Timaru is also well-known for it’s roses. There’s a lovely figure-8-shaped rose garden at Caroline Bay, with a lot of old rose varieties. (I think the oldest variety I found there was from the 1500’s.)

Part of the kid’s paddling pool, complete with shade sails, picnic tables, a bridge and a little waterfall over one side.

A bit further south of Timaru is Oamaru. Oamaru is famous for Oamaru Stone – a lovely white sandstone (I think it’s sandstone?) that’s used in a lot of buildings in this part of the country. It’s also the Steampunk capital of New Zealand, and it has a historic area where a lot of the old warehouses and shops from the Victorian era have been rescued and bought back to life as art galleries, cafes, shops, etc.

Steampunk HQ – a Steampunk museum. We didn’t get to see it though, as it closed about half an hour before we arrived in Oamaru. 😦

Random Steampunk art next to Steampunk HQ. (Yes, that’s a metal guy swinging from a chain.)

And yes, that’s a giant metal fly on the wall of Steampunk HQ.

Since the Steampunk HQ museum was closed, we wandered down the path by the stream, towards the sea.

Near the sea, we met up with another path that ran along the waterfront, so we followed it along behind the historic quarter. It looks like they’re creating a walkway – there were seedlings planted along the side of the path, and various old train pieces dotted along on tracks.

Wandering through the historic area. They’ve rescued a lot of the old signage as well – I love this one. “It’s famous because it’s good” is on one door, and “For coughs and colds, good for young and old” is on the other. This area is full of old warehouses – the train tracks used to run right along the back of them (along the path we’d just walked, in fact).

One day, I will manage to be in Oamaru when these tearooms are open. I’ve been there twice in the last four months, and both times they’ve been closed. *sigh* They’re meant to be fabulous, with staff dressed up like butlers and maids.
(The sign hanging from the awning is welcoming home a gentleman from Oamaru who rode the length of the country recently on a Penny Farthing. Did I mention Oamaru is also home to some quirky characters, who dress Victorian and/or Steampunk? They even have a proper bookbinder there.)

Since everything was closed (it being after 5.30pm on a Monday) we headed off to wander to the Botanic Gardens. We found a memorial garden on the way and stopped at the lovely bright red benches.
Then it began to rain, hard, and we raced back to the car. We saw the entrance to the Botanic Gardens across the road before the rain came – maybe we’ll get there next time we’re down South visiting my family.
Since the weather had packed in (quickly) we headed off South towards Dunedin and my parent’s house for the night.


7 responses to “Great Southern Lands (part 2) – Temuka, Timaru and Oamaru

  1. awesome! FYI – It is Limestone in Oamaru – the quarry is out in Weston (where I went to Primary school & hence we had a field trip there).
    If/When I move back, you can come & stay & make day trips to Timaru & Waimate & easily be there when the tearooms are open 🙂

    • Silly me, of course! I had a feeling ‘sandstone’ wasn’t quite right – thanks.

      You’re thinking of moving back?!? Wonder if I know why….? ;-p

  2. Looks a cool town – there’s a fly on the wall! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi there, just thought you would like to know (if you don’t already) that in Temuka they have demolished the old fish shop and video ezy building in the last (Temuka) pic because of earthquake damage.
    And the Timaru building with the red/orange dome in your photo is also probably going to be demolished as (they say) it is going to cost too much to restore it, what a shame as it is a landmark.

  4. Oh yay, I found you! I remember reading your blog (I remember your hair) a while back and then not being able to find it again! You’re in my reader now so I’ll be seeing you around. Beautiful photos by the way.

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