Monday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Tuesday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Wednesday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Thursday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Friday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Saturday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Sunday10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
1 Humber Street, Oamaru
027 778 6547
Ōamaru is not only the Steampunk capital of New Zealand, but of the entire world. And what is Steampunk exactly? It’s a Victorian view of the future - a future without the industrial revolution, a future powered by steam. If this fascinating sub-culture is foreign to you don’t worry, a trip to Steampunk HQ will bring you up to speed in no time flat.
Steampunk HQ lives inside an old grain store. The stunning limestone building sat empty for almost 90 years before two local artists dreamed up its new form. It opened in 2011 and has been wowing visitors of the Steampunk persuasion and those just dabbling in it, ever since.
In true form, a massive steam powered locomotive sits in front of Steampunk HQ. Deposit a two-dollar coin at any time of the day and watch the engine spring to life as flames shoot out of its smokestack. Head inside and dive even deeper into this attraction that’s not quite a museum, not quite a gallery but is fun, spooky, antique and futuristic all at the same time.
During open hours you can explore all this spot has to offer for just ten bucks. In the foyer, choose a Steampunk name, a trade related to the times and even dress up in Victorian garb. Venture deeper into the building and investigate all of the industrial relics that have been repurposed into weird, wacky and fascinating Steampunk art forms.
One of the first installations you’ll encounter, the ‘Metagalactic Pipe Organ’ is completely interactive as are most of the installations found here. Press its keys and ignite the space with manufactured sounds of the past, present and future. In The Gadegetorium, you’ll encounter unusual creatures, relics and machines before being transported to new dimensions in The Portal.
Leave at least an hour to make the most of your time here and bring your camera too as photography is encouraged. If there ever was a place you simply have to experience for yourself, it’d be Steampunk HQ.
Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Nancy Zhou
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1 Humber Street, Oamaru
A beautiful old building full of beautiful new objects. We’re talking New Zealand made clothing, accessories and homewares that’ll delight even the most discerning of buyers. Do your gift shopping or treat yourself.
A general store since the 1800s, this cosy Ōamaru corner shop is now home to hip baby wear, cool gifts and New Zealand outerwear brand, Moké. Lush fabrics and excellent craftsmanship tie the whole concept together.
Deja Moo & Harbour Street Bakery
Ice cream and carbs, the perfect combo. You’ll find loaves on the left and scoops on the right. Everything’s made from scratch with a lot of love and zero nasties. This stuff is famous because it’s good.
Not quite a gallery or a studio, Grainstore Gallery is an emporium of local artist Donna Demente’s larger than life paintings and sculptures and the ephemera that informs them. Climb up the stairs and be immersed in her creative world.
River-T Estate Wines
River-T Estate vineyard and tasting room has the ‘largest selection of Waitaki wine in the world’. Sit inside or amongst the rows, sip a glass and get stuck into any of their locally sourced platters.
Local Kevin Murdoch restored The Terraces building and filled it with historical relics and an art studio. Pop in for a chat with Kevin and the other Ōamaru artist in residence, Al Bell - this is something of an alternative visitors’ centre.
Poshtel has to be one of the most unique accommodation options around New Zealand. In keeping with one of Ōamaru's most notable personality traits, Steampunk, it’s filled with antiques and relics. The fascinating, grunty decor is paired with conscious design details which put this hotel into a league all its own: quirky yet luxurious.
It’s hard not to be inspired by Ōamaru’s rugged coastline and fabled history. The town is home to many talented makers and artists, and at the collective gallery you can explore their work at your own pace.