Visiting Oamaru is like taking a step -- or two -- back in time. The first thing that strikes you about the city is its beautiful, rather grandiose nineteenth-century architecture. One of the most eye-catching buildings there is the Oamaru Opera House, where local and world-renowned operas, musicals, and other theatre acts are showcased. Be sure to visit it at night, for that's when it is lit up beautifully. For those who are enamoured of such architecture, take a walk down the Victorian Precinct to check out more of these old buildings, which also house shops, cafes, and galleries.
One thing you shouldn't miss out in Oamaru is penguin viewing. Yellow-eyed penguins are native to New Zealand and Oamaru is a good place to see them -- head to Bushy Beach to watch them in their natural habitat. Oamaru is also home to the Blue Penguin Colony -- you can choose to take a tour in the colony either in the day or at night. The best time to visit these tiny and adorable creatures would be between September and February. Alternatively, you might spot them at the beaches emerging from the water if you are lucky!
Other things to do in Oamaru include cheese-tasting at the Whitestone Cheese Factory, dining at Riverstone Kitchen, New Zealand's Restaurant of the Year 2011, and driving to Moeraki to visit the famous Moeraki Boulders, where one of the "Chronicles of Narnia" movies was filmed.
There are several hostels in Oamaru, a couple of which are in the heart of town or around it -- they offer convenience and are a good choice for travelers without their own form of transport. Some are situated further away from town, in more remote areas, surrounded by nature -- these places are harder to access but are great if you have your own transport. Despite being out of the way, they offer peace and tranquility and are places for weary travelers to rest their feet and recharge for the next leg of their journey.