What is there to do in Oamaru?
In short, plenty. The big 'O', is exactly that, a kaleidoscope of colour, character and surprises!
My abiding memory of Oamaru began with a clear and sunny winter's afternoon in June of 1973. It'd been a good frost that morning and the rugby ground at St. Kevin's College at Redcastle, was still rock hard at lunchtime. It lay under the brow of a hill and by mid afternoon another chilly dew felt as if another frost was already settling.
I was the hooker in the St. Bede's College 1st Rugby XV from Christchurch, here to do battle with our southern neighbours. This annual event has been played for decades on a home and away basis and last year St. Kevins had smashed us and we were determined to make amends.
The young women of the now defunct Teschmakers High School, many of whom had boyfriends at St. Kevins and who'd graciously hosted us for morning tea, turned up, wrapped in scarves and gloves, to watch proceedings. We quickly realised they'd been part of the 'softening up process', as they quickly assumed a most hostile demeanour.
Point being the kicking we got that afternoon, despite somehow managing to win the game, albeit by a slim margin and thus avenging the previous year..still lives long in the memory.
'Oh, those sprawling, benign grounds beyond the glorious Red Castle', writes the esteemed and sometimes fabled, Canterbury High Country scribe, Claver Esmond, 'where blood and sweat lies to this very day'.
I think Esmond was onto something there..
The title Redcastle is for that part of the St. Kevins precinct that was a beautiful old Queen Anne style residence and the name comes from the colour of the stone from which it was built.
Oamaru itself, is well known for its Victorian buildings and architecture and landscaping..and apparently has one of the oldest public gardens in New Zealand.