Ninth largest town on New Zealand
's South Island and provincial capital of the Waitaki District
in North Otago
is a small town of ca 12000 inhabitants 17 km south of the Waitaki
River, ca 100 km north of Dunedin
. It provides the surrounding agricultural villages with a hospital, supermarkets, a couple of pubs and is home to two penguin
- colonies, which gives it a certain touristic attraction, as people gather to see the Yellow-eyed Penguin
and the Little Blue Penguin
come out of the water.
The area was apparently initially settled by the Waitaha - people and was discovered as a perfect spot for whaling in the 18th century, making it quickly an important trade centre. In the 19th century Oamaru's port was visited regularly by over 400 ships a year.
Due to its past wealth, it sports a good number of victorian buildings (built with the famous white oamaru stone, a sort of limestone) and a couple of impressive churches, but certainly has lost some of the significance it had 100 years ago. Nevertheless in recent years the town has started to acknowledge its past and is fostering local artistic talent and celebrating its heritage with an annual Victorian festival.