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Punk’d! One of the more offbeat and surreal New Zealand attractions we visited in the south island was the Steampunk HQ in Oamaru. Very different from your typical museum or attraction, this is a beautifully bizarre and lovingly curated slice of mechanical creations and steampunk stylings.
Billed as ‘New Zealand’s premier steampunk experience’ (actually, we can’t think of any other NZ steampunk attractions), the adventure begins as soon as you turn the corner and see the wonderfully grand limestone building for the first time. The looming steam engine and zeppelin outside both come to life if you pop $2 in the slot!
Steampunk HQ Gallery in Oamaru
Situated in the historic Victorian district in Oamaru (which also featured in the movie ‘Perfect Creature’), Steampunk HQ came to be in 2011 and set up home in a former grainstore. The ethos behind the work on display is sustainability and recycling, brought to life in a creative way.
The $10 admission is cheap compared to most museums (and even less expensive if you book ahead through the BookMe deal website. We found that they had reduced admission ($5) most days if you are willing to book ahead slightly (even the night before) and commit to a particular time-slot.
The HQ itself is divided into two main rooms full of weird and wonderful exhibits and excitingly. There are several items you can touch and interact with, like the omnipresent church organ in the first room (although what will play from the pipes as you hit the keys is anybody’s guess).
Our indoor highlight was the ‘The Portal’ (so much so, that we did it three or four times). A cross between the Matrix and an explosion at Santa’s grotto, this is a cleverly designed mirror / light show that makes you feels like you are in an endless and infinite world, with no end to the horizon in sight.
FURTHER READING – Ultimate New Zealand bucket list – top 50 things to do
Outside, in the yard, there are several other pimped up vehicles including a transformed train carriage plus a massive motorbike you’ve never seen the likes of before. To go back inside, you go through Steampunk HQ’s latest addition, the ‘Gadgetorium’, a secret room filled full of relics, unusual machines and creepy creatures.
Finally, exit through the gift-shop before returning to modern day Aoteroa and the ‘real world’, where everything now looks too eerily clean and modern. Definitely worth a visiting if you are visiting Oamaru as part of your New Zealand south island itinerary.
More New Zealand blog posts
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- Visiting the Monteith’s brewery in Greymouth
- Things to do in Queenstown, New Zealand
- A day trip to Milford Sound, New Zealand
- A Guide to Arrowtown, New Zealand
- Visiting the Moeraki Boulders, South Island
- Baldwin Street – the world’s steepest street in Dunedin
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