First Annual Great North Otago Potato Race

14543765_1104044969630855_4386439795914159465_oOn 8 October the Waitaki Tourism Association held the first annual Great North Otago Potato Race, a fun family-friendly event that celebrates one of the area’s most iconic agricultural products, the humble potato. A total of four races were held, one for the under-12s, another for adults, a third for people who wished to bring their own potato, and a fourth for businesses. A number of cash prizes were awarded, and the business winner was awarded $500 to be donated to the local food bank. The morning turned out to be tremendous fun, and several lessons were learned for next year’s event (including the need to find a steeper street). Look forward to the 2017 event, which will be bigger, better, and spudlier for sure! More information on the event can be read on the Otago Daily Times’ site here.

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Oamaru’s Pen-y-bryn Lodge on TV

14324183_1406850415998915_4123649520019824957_oThe popular hour-long Kiwi Living programme, hosted by Miriama Kamo, featured Oamaru’s luxury lodge, Pen-y-bryn, on last night’s episode. The show airs on TV One each Tuesday at 7:30pm, and showcases people, places and foods from around New Zealand. In the segment with Pen-y-bryn, Miriama visited with James and James, the lodge’s owners, exploring the historic mansion and learning a bit about what prompted two urbanites from far away in the United States to relocate to Oamaru. The episode is viewable in New Zealand on Kiwi Living’s on-demand service by clicking here, or if you are reading this from outside of New Zealand you can click here and download a copy of the segment to watch on your computer.

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Oamaru Recognised as Steampunk Capital

3000During this past autumn’s annual Steampunk Festival (to take place again in 2017 during 1-5 June) the celebrants decided to try for a Guinness World Record–most Steampunks gathered in a single place. The attempt was very popular, with many dozens of people cramming into the venue to be counted, and with three adjudicators assessing each and every one to make sure that they were indeed dressed in “full steam”. The records were forwarded to the Guinness people and word came back that we had not only beat the previous record (185 people, at the famed Comic-Con convention in the US) but beat it by a mile, with 228 Steampunks in attendance.

The Guardian newspaper has now caught on to Oamaru’s fame as the world capital of Steampunk with an article examining how our town came to such prominence so quickly. It’s well worth a read, even if your correspondent is not so sure that Oamaru was ever particularly “ordinary” or “humble”…

You can read the article by clicking here, and you can plan your visit to Oamaru for the next Steampunk festival by visiting our local tourism authority’s brand-new website, here.

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from Instagram: http://ift.tt/2av3Vkq #gigatownoam
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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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