Yanina and Pablo Tacchini

Yanina and Pablo sitting at a table under a plant, smiling to camera.

We loved Ōamaru from day one. Yanina came to New Zealand for the first time as an exchange student, and then we all came back for a family holiday 13 years ago—and never left.  

Together, we own Cucina Restaurant, which was just awarded a chef's "hat" in the Cuisine Good Food Awards. It’s a mix of South American and Argentinian-style food, fused with influences from our family's roots in both Italy and Spain. In the same building, we also have Tees Street café, and we recently opened Del Mar, a relaxed waterfront restaurant.

 

We were both originally city people, but Ōamaru is a community-oriented town. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, and that's why we stay here pretty much—because of the locals. 

When the seasons change, we love to get out and spend time in the region’s natural surroundings; there’s nothing better than exploring the ​​Waitaki Valley on a crisp autumn day.

Cosy Up With the Little Blue Penguins

We have a small vintage steam train that runs from the old part of town right through to the penguin colony— a very cool experience for children. You can stop in for ice cream at Del Mar and then head over for sundown to see the little blue penguins.

Book Into Bliss

The Mariner Suites Hotel just opened. It's within walking distance of everything and has a fantastic view of the harbour. Or, if you want some quiet time away, Nest Tree Houses are just 40-minutes from Oamaru. You can go there and spend all your time inside the treehouse, looking at the greenery— a fabulous place.  

Explore the Waitaki Valley

We like to go to the lakes area and the Waitaki Valley on a crisp autumn day. The walks around Otematata are magnificent, and this season is the perfect time to do the Alps to Ocean trail. And, of course, the Benmore Peninsula lookout track is a must!

Get Your Gallery Fix

Inc Design, by Helen Riley-Duddin, is the most special shop in Ōamaru. Everything is curated by her, and she is also an amazing artist. Donna Demente's shop Grainstore Gallery is a wonderful place full of surreal art. Walking around the old town is like stepping into a different era; you can get so inspired!

Tackle Herbert Forest on Bike

Herbert Forest's biking tracks are super fun and full of picturesque rivers - and not many people know about them. It might take a while to get up the hill, but the downhill is fun, and there are plenty of tracks to choose from—whether you want to bike or walk. You can hire both bikes and e-bikes from Rob at Cycle Ventures over on the waterfront. 

Herbert Forest in Waitaki Valley.

Scout Out Oamaru on Foot

I love walking around the Public Gardens on a nice autumn afternoon. You'll see the trees changing colours and mushrooms popping up everywhere; it's a perfect place to take photos. Or check out the Ōamaru Lookout Point walk and then head down to Cape Wanbrow Beach, where you'll see the seals and some penguins if you're lucky. 

The Perfect Pairing

River-T Estate Wines is a small family-owned winery and an ideal place to pop into if you're staying up at the Nest Tree Houses. They do Pinot, Chardonnay, Rosé and more—the selection is excellent. And they also make the most enormous cheese platters you can imagine, so sit back and relax while the kids run and play through the vines.   

Meet Belgian-style Brewer

A chat with Michael O'Brian of Craftwork Brewery is a must. You can have the most amazing conversations with him while drinking his Belgian-style ales! It's easy to spend hours at the brewery—he and his wife Lee-ann are just so welcoming. Try the Red Bonnet Original—one of my favourite brews from them.

Live the Beach Life

Kakanui Beach is quite hidden, and not many people know about it either. A surfing beach with beautiful golden sand—you wouldn't even know you're in Ōamaru on a nice day. Head to the fish and chip shop and pull up at the beach, whether it's for surfing or walking. 

Go Steampunk on a Rainy Day

Steampunk HQ is the craziest museum you can think of. Lots of art, exhibits and costumes that showcase what Steampunk is really about. They've even got the Portal room full of changing lights and colours—it feels like a completely different world.