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A New Way to Experience Oamaru!

harb3As a coastal community, Oamaru has amazing views of the beautiful Pacific Ocean from many corners of the town, and the sight of the ever-changing colours of the water is something that many visitors remember long after their visit has come to an end. Now, those pristine waters of the ocean afford the chance to see Oamaru from a new perspective, as Oamaru Adventures is officially open for business, offering water-based tours of the harbour and coastline.

Nigel Ryburn has opened the business in the historic Red Sheds area of the harbour, just up the road from the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. Using sturdy kayaks and Canadian-style canoes that can seat as many as six people, he offers personalised tours that take his guests along the coast, giving them the chance to see our marine wildlife (including NZ fur seals, yellow-eyed and blue penguins, and countless other types of birds) from a unique angle.

You can find additional information on their website, www.oamaruadventures.nz, or at their Facebook page.

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Pen-y-bryn’s 2015 Gingerbread House Revealed

IMG_2228.jpgContinuing a tradition begun way back in 1997, James Glucksman and James Boussy, the owners of Oamaru’s luxury lodge, Pen-y-bryn, have revealed the gingerbread house that they have crafted as part of their Christmas decorations. Normally the pair model the gingerbread house after a significant building that they had seen during an overseas trip during the course of the year, but this year the main “architect” of the gingerbread house, James B, did not leave New Zealand, staying behind to work on the lodge’s massive expansion project that was completed during the winter. So they set their sights closer to home, choosing an Oamaru landmark to serve as the inspiration for their gingerbread creation.

Oamaru is uniquely full of architectural treasures, making the selection process a challenge, but the Jameses eventually hit upon the iconic 1883 Waitaki District Council building as their inspiration. Originally constructed as the Oamaru Main Post Office, the building was designed by the same architects who designed Pen-y-bryn Lodge, Forrester & Lemon. Also like Pen-y-bryn, the Waitaki District Council building holds a Category One listing with Heritage New Zealand, recognising its architectural significance.

Like all their other gingerbread creations, this one is constructed solely of edible materials–gingerbread dough for the structure of the building, royal icing for the decorations, pastillage for the clock faces, and caramel for the windows.

The gingerbread house will be on display at Pen-y-bryn through the holidays, after which it will be transferred to Real Food Pantry on Eden Street and displayed there for several weeks. To visit a gallery of earlier gingerbread houses by the Jameses, visit this site.

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Oamaru’s Luxury Lodge Unveils Expanded Guest Rooms

Discerning travellers to Oamaru and the Waitaki Valley already know that the place to stay is Pen-y-bryn Lodge, a Category-One historic mansion that is one of a mere handful of Qualmark-rated luxury lodges in New Zealand. But over the past several months, during the relatively quiet winter months, the Jameses (as the owners, James Glucksman and James Boussy are universally known) have been hard at work turning three of the lodge’s five guest rooms into mini-suites.

While the main lodge building, considered to be the largest single-storey wooden dwelling in Australasia, cannot be altered, owing to its listed status, the Oamaru stone “annex” building adjacent to the main lodge can be. While it was also built in 1889, like the rest of the property, this building suffered a devastating fire in 1925, resulting in the building being essentially a ruin until the 1990s when previous owners set to restoring it. Since three of the lodge’s guest rooms are in this building’s upstairs level, and there was a 1980s-vintage extension on the ground floor, the Jameses and their architect, Timaru-based Desmond Prisk, designed an upper floor extension that would triple the available space in the guest rooms.

The new-version Park, Garden and Nest Rooms are now by far the largest guest rooms in the lodge, offering in excess of 40 square metres of usable space in each. Because of this added space, these rooms now all enjoy features not previously possible, including super-king beds (each of which can be split into twins when required); a sitting area with a sofa-bed so a third person can share the room; a tea/coffee nook with a Nespresso machine for in-room espressos drinks; satellite television; and a much larger ensuite bathroom, with shower stall and separate oversize bath.

As the old saying goes, pictures speak 1000 words, so rather than describing these beautiful rooms, we share some images below. These rooms will be available for booking as of 20 October, but be warned–they’re already going fast!

The Nest Room

The Nest Room

The Nest Room

The Nest Room

The Nest Room Ensuite

The Nest Room Ensuite

The Nest Room Ensuite

The Nest Room Ensuite

The Nest Room

The Nest Room

The Park Room

The Park Room

The Park Room

The Park Room

The Park Room

The Park Room

Garden Room

Garden Room

Garden Room

Garden Room

Garden Room Ensuite

Garden Room Ensuite

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Explore Waitaki App Released for iPhone

iPhone App

The #Waitaki Tourism Association’s free app, Explore Waitaki, has now been released by the Apple App Store for use on iPhones and other iOS devices. The app has information on attractions throughout the Waitaki District, including the famed Moeraki Boulders, Elephant Rocks, the Oamaru Historic Precinct, and much more! So if you’re planning a visit to Waitaki this summer (or at anytime in the future!) this app will be your handy guide to make sure you don’t miss anything!

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Explore Waitaki App Released!

IMG_7541Oamaru is located in the Waitaki District, an enormous region that stretches from the southern boundary of Canterbury (home to Christchurch and Kaikoura) to the northern boundary of Dunedin, and from the Pacific Coast deep into the Southern Alps. With such a large territory, the district of course has a wealth of attractions, but it can be difficult for visitors to make sense of what is located where, and how to get to them.

The Waitaki Tourism Association, a membership group comprising tourism businesses throughout this large region, has just released the first of its smartphone apps to help visitors get the most out of our district, free to download for Android devices from the Google Play store.

The app, which can be downloaded from this link for free, provides information not just about the numerous attractions, but also gives you driving directions and will tell you what services are near your location from wherever you are located. Looking for a bite to eat near Elephant Rocks? The app has you covered! Need a place to stay near Palmerston? No problem!

The app will be continuously updated with new information, and as new businesses open in the area, they will be added, too. And if you are visiting the area and find a sight or a point of interest that they’ve somehow overlooked, you can submit the location and a description and they’ll add it to the app.

An iPhone version is awaiting release through the iTunes Store, and will be available from this link very soon.

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Pen-y-bryn Lodge’s 2014 Gingerbread House Revealed

 

Belfort of Bruges in Gingerbread

Every year since 1997, James Boussy and James Glucksman of Oamaru’s luxury Pen-y-bryn Lodge have created a gingerbread house as part of their Christmas decorations. From a simple house-shaped version in that first year, the pair quickly progressed to more elaborate creations, each one based on a building that they visited during the previous year. The first of these was Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, followed by such monuments as Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral, Beijing’s Lama Temple, and Christchurch’s Christ Church Cathedral.

This year, the Jameses’ travels took them to a number of places with beautiful “gingerbread-worthy” buildings, but when they got to Bruges in Belgium’s West Flanders region, and caught sight for the first time of the town’s Belfort, they knew they had found this year’s gingerbread house.

The Belfort of Bruges (also known as the Bruges Belfry) is 83 metres tall, 44 metres wide and 84 metres deep, and was first built in 1240, though the tower was rebuilt in 1280 after a fire. The gingerbread version was constructed out of 4.5 kg of flour, 1.5 kg of molasses and 1.2 kg of butter. As is traditional, the gingerbread house is completely edible, though the Jameses do not actually eat their creations at the end of the holiday season. Instead, it goes on display at a local Oamaru gourmet shop for a few weeks before being discarded.

You can view more photos of the gingerbread Belfort, and the Jameses’ earlier gingerbread creations, at their online gallery by clicking here.

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