The Seaside town of Oamaru is letting off a little Steam.


For many years the good folk of Oamaru have celebrated their towns traditional Victorian heritage, with its wonderful white stone architecture, beautiful English gardens, alongside a resident rookery of little blue penguins. More recently Oamaru has become the home to an avant-garde artistic expression called Steampunk.

The Seaside town of Oamaru is letting off a little Steam.

Fuelled by the enthusiasm of a local group known as the “League of Victorian Imagineers”, many Oamaruvians have embraced steampunk, attending the many events organized by the group, which culminated in the 2011 Steampunk Exhibition at a local art gallery.

With the creation of “Steampunk HQ” there is now a Museum/Gallery for visitors to experience this fascinating art form. The “Steampunk HQ” is housed in a very grandiose building on the edge of Oamaru’s historic precinct and, as explained by the League of Victorian Imagineers, is home to numerious curious machines, steam powered aetheric devices from other worlds, portals unexplainable, mysterious dimensions and unusual sights to fascinate and delight!

What is steampunk?

What is Steampunk!

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction and alternate history that came into prominence during the 1980s.

Steampunk involves social or technological aspects of the 19th century (the steam) mainly the Victorian era Britain, incorporating elements of science fiction or fantasy usually with some deconstruction of, reimagining of, or rebellion against parts of it (the punk). This alternative technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

Oamaru Steampunk

With all the intriguing contraptions demanding attention but trapped in the pages of these classic stories, it was only natural that people try to make some of them and bring them to life and these Gadgets came into the real world. Ove time all manor of things have been “steampunk’d” everything from computers, desks, telephone, watches and guitars to cars, motorcycles, and whole houses. These objects can vary from a grungy look of a forgotten antique to the shiny overwrought newness of a Victorian gentleman’s club. Think brass and copper, glass and polished wood, engraving and etching, and details for the sake of details. So, steampunk is also a design aesthetic.

Steampunk is the intersection of technology and romance - it's fashion, an aesthetic, a genre of fiction, a musical style. This aesthetic carries over into personal style with both clothing and jewelry being made in a “steampunk” style. The clothes are not exactly Victorian, adding in technological bits or hints of a more adventurous life than a typical Victorian

“Steampunk is what happens when goths discover brown.” – Jess Nevins

Oamaru makes a great stop off if you are heading north from the Gothic, southern city of Dunedin to Christchurch.

Why not add a day in Oamaru to your New Zealand holiday itinerary - Contact the New Zealand Self Drive Experts for the holiday of a lifetime.


Brent Narbey
Brent Narbey
: 10 May 2010 (Last updated: 11 Apr 2022)

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