Remembering

April 25, 2020

Eight oaks line the road on the outskirts of Enfield. Another grows in the grounds of what was the school.

Under each is a stark, white cross on which is the name of a man who was killed in WWI.

Other such trees line Severn Street on State Highway 1 in Oamaru and more are planted through the town and district,

 . . .this living memorial is being cherished by the North Otago community. The men are not forgotten. Their memory is literally implanted in the landscape of Oamaru and North Otago.


NZ Beef and Lambassadors

January 25, 2019

Pablo Tacchini from Cucina in Oamaru is one of Beef + Lamb NZ’s Ambassador Chefs.

Pablo is originally from Argentina where he trained at the culinary institute, Mausi Sebess for two and a half years. He worked in Argentina in different restaurants for more than five years before coming to New Zealand for a holiday with his wife and young son. They fell in love with New Zealand, especially Oamaru and after being offered a job as a chef they decided to stay and make New Zealand home. 

Pablo worked at restaurants around the Otago region before taking over as head chef at Cucina 1871. About two years ago the opportunity came about for Pablo and his wife to buy the restaurant. They changed the name to Cucina, upgraded the decor and changed the food style to what it is now. 

Pablo’s style of cuisine is a reflection of what he grew up eating with his family every day. Part of his family comes from Italy and the other part from Spain, so when he mixes these two influences with his Argentinian culture, his style of cuisine gets very interesting. . . 

Oamaru is blessed with several restaurants where diners are guaranteed delicious food and wonderful service.

Riverstone Kitchen a few kilometres north and Fleurs Place to the south are the most well known.

Cucina, at the entrance to Oamaru’s historic precinct, facing the southern end of the town’s main street is just as good.

Beef + Lamb’s media release on the Ambassador Chefs:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand have announced their five Ambassador Chefs for 2019 to act as figureheads to drive innovation and creativity within the foodservice sector. The appointments follow the announcement of the 173 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award holders for 2019, with the ambassadors selected from some of the highest rated restaurants during the assessments.

The five selected for the coveted roles are; Andrew May (Amayjen the Restaurant, Feilding) Freddie Ponder (Tables Restaurant, New Plymouth), Jarrod McGregor (Rothko at Sculptureum, Matakana), Pablo Tacchini (Cucina, Oamaru) and Scott Buckler (No. 31 Restaurant, Hanmer Springs). . . 

The Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chefs’ roll of honour looks like a who’s who of Kiwi culinary trailblazers, with the quintet following in the footsteps of some of New Zealand’s most celebrated chefs. Peter Gordon, Ben Bayley, Sid Sahrawat, Kate Fay and Rex Morgan are just a few of Aotearoa’s finest that have featured in an ambassadorial capacity for Beef + Lamb New Zealand over the 23 years of the Beef and Lamb Excellence Awards. . . 

Lisa Moloney has been Food Service Manager for Beef + Lamb New Zealand for over 12 years, overseeing the Ambassador Chef programme. Lisa said: “This year’s ambassadors have been selected not just because they are fantastic chefs, they were identified because of their creativity, dedication and excitement for cooking with beef and lamb. 

Their purpose is simple; to inspire a network of likeminded chefs to move forward, try something new and showcase what amazing creations are possible with beef and lamb.

Kiwi food fanatics looking to sample the very best the ambassadors have to offer will be able to attend an Ambassador Series Dinner, hosted at each of the chef’s restaurant, with each chef being paired with a Platinum Ambassador Chef to create a unique beef and lamb dining experience.

The Excellence Awards and Ambassador Chefs give recognition to the chefs who highlight beef and lamb on their menus and do it superbly.


Water, water everywhere . . .

December 1, 2018

The Ancient Mariner would feel right at home in North Otago at the moment – there’s water, water everywhere, but  Oamaru and much of the hinterland is in danger of running out any to drink.

All of Oamaru,  Weston and Enfield rural areas, Kakanui, Herbert, Hampden and Moeraki supply areas are on full water restrictions:

Oamaru and the surrounding areas are now on FULL WATER RESTRICTIONS, meaning essential water use only.

Essential water use is:

– No clothes washing

– No car cleaning

– No water use at all that is not absolutely necessary.

– Don’t use dishwashers – hand wash only

– No watering of plants etc

– Flush No 2’s only

Other helpful things to do is to make sure you have no leaks at all, get them fixed please.

If we run out of treated water, we will be forced to deliver untreated turbid water, that you will have to boil to drink.

This will likely mean schools and businesses will have to close, and it will take a long time to recover from.

We need to seriously reduce water usage for 4 days to let things recover to a manageable level.​
Image may contain: text that says "URGENT WATER RESTRICTIONS ESSENTIAL WATER USE ONLY FOR EVERONE ON THE OAMARU WATER SUPPLY Oamaru, Weston, Hampden, Herbert, Enfield, down to Moeraki for next 4 DAYS from Nov 30 Eg: 2 min shower only, No washing clothes Don't water garden, flush No 2's only, Don' use dishwasher, Fix leaks, No car washing, no filling pools etc. info here: www.waitaki.govt.nz Waitaki COUNCIL"

This is serious.

Too much rain over the last week has left the Waitaki river which supplies water for the town and outlying areas too dirty for the treatment plant to deal with.

If people don’t conserve enough water, businesses will be shut down for several days.


Oamaru trumps Timaru

March 16, 2018

Stuff is doing a series of stories on rivalries between provincial towns and cities.

It started with Timaru vs Oamaru for the pride of the south.

Audrey Malone talked up Timaru and Hamish Rutherford penned an ode to Oamaru.

. . . It’s amazing what kids take for granted.

Only when I went to university did it dawn on me that the local bank did not necessarily have giant Corinthian columns at the entrance (or that the tellers may not know you by name).

You might not see what is remarkable about Oamaru if you have simply driven through it. From State Highway 1 it would be possible to imagine Oamaru was just another provincial New Zealand town, so very long that its main purpose is to slow you down on the way to somewhere else.

But I was lucky enough to call Oamaru home: grandiose banks, halls, churches, pubs, municipal buildings and many large houses, built on early economic prosperity and the availability of a distinctive locally quarried limestone were the norm.

Let me sing its praises. At 14,000, the population is hardly bigger than it was in the 1960s, but North Otago’s dominant town is arguably much more prosperous than many others which have grown much larger.

Oamaru has world-class offerings for food and culture, with a rich tapestry of history.

It has good cafes and a couple of restaurants which would continue to do fine if they were in bigger towns. The brewery, Scotts, relocated from Auckland, is well known for its gluten-free variety by New Zealand’s booming GF army. The Whitestone cheese factory sells to supermarkets in every part of New Zealand – and has attracted a few celebrity fans in Hollywood. It has contributed great literature, from Janet Frame to Greg McGee.

There is a lolly factory, which opened in 1949. Rainbow Confectionery recently attempted to keep Pineapple Lumps production in New Zealand after Dunedin’s Cadbury factory closes. The owners, Mondelez, refused, sending manufacturing offshore, with every other Cadbury and Pascall product. So may I offer you Rainbow’s Pineapple Chunks, available online and in the factory store?

Some of the employment is more old-school: Pukeuri, to the north, still has its freezing works, with dairy farms all the way up the beautiful Waitaki Valley. Oamaru is a good place if you are willing to work hard.

New Zealand’s first shipment of frozen meat was sent to Britain from the port just to the south. The port may now be insignificant in shipping terms compared to Timaru, but it was in Oamaru that the Terra Nova landed, carrying news that the great British explorer Robert Scott had died in his failed bid to reach the South Pole first.

A key measure of a New Zealand town’s class is in its coffee, but despite living in Timaru for a spell and still passing through several times a year, I still wouldn’t know where to go. In Oamaru, head to the area with most of the nice buildings and take your pick.

There are many great things to say about Timaru. Like almost anywhere you go, it is full of very nice people. A nationally competitive motorsport community recently gave us international rally driver Hayden Paddon. But Paddon is no Richie McCaw, who started in North Otago before going on to bigger things. . . 

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, who lives in Oamaru, thinks it is the best wee town in the South Island. She moved there with her husband and young family decades ago, and won’t be leaving any time soon.

“We moved 30-odd years, and it’s largely because of the people we wouldn’t move away,” Dean says.

She usually flies in and out of Timaru.

“I actually like Timaru, I just like Oamaru a whole heap more.” . . .

Oamaru and Timaru are often confused by outsiders because they sound similar.

If there’s any rivalry between the two, it’s pretty low key.

For many of us on the right side of the Waitaki River, Timare is just a place you drive through on the way north.


Steampunk capital

August 2, 2017

Steampunk is tomorrow as it used to be – a mixture of science fiction, art, and imagination with a sense of the absurd.

Oamaru is New Zealand’s steampunk capital:

You can find out more at Steampunk NZ and Steampunk HQ.


366 days of gratitude

September 17, 2016

Friends from the North Island came to stay with us yesterday.

We took them to dine at Fleurs Place last night where we experienced the usual warm and efficient service, delicious food and a magical sunset.

fleurs-evening

 

This morning we wandered round Oamaru’s historic precinct, taking in a visit to Steampunk HQ  which now features an infinity portal.

infinity-portal

Oamaru used to be the town you had to crawl through on State Highway 1 on the way from somewhere to somewhere else. Now it’s a destination.

Seven Sharp made it New Zealand’s sharpest town, Lonely Planet dubbed it the coolest town in the country a view echoed by travel writers with gems like Pen-y-bryn which featured on Kiwi Living this week.

Seeing the town through the eyes of visitors today reawakened us to its charms for all of which I’m grateful.


366 days of gratitude

June 5, 2016

Oamaru is New Zealand’s steampunk capital and at Queen’s Birthday weekend the annual Steampunk Festival  attracts steampunk aficionados from all over New Zealand and many parts of the world.

It’s a fantastical celebration of tomorrow as it used to be and I’m grateful for the creative people behind it and the fun they provide for locals and visitors.

 

 


366 days of gratitude

January 19, 2016

North Otago didn’t used to feature on many people’s tourist itineraries and Oamaru was once just another town to crawl through for people driving on State Highway 1.

But the growing popularity of the little blue penguins which nest around the harbour, the town’s stunning old (by New Zealand standards) buildings and its Victorian precinct and becoming the country’s Steampunk capital  started attracting more visitors.

Oamaru was dubbed New Zealand’s coolest town by Lonely Planet which has helped attract more visitors and help locals appreciate what we have on our doorstep.

Visitors’ appreciation isn’t confined to the town and exploration of the wider district has been boosted by the development of the Alps 2 Ocean (A2O) cycleway which has been recognised as one of the world’s leading attractions:

North Otago’s Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail has made it on to a list of the world’s best destinations in 2016 by travel publishers Frommer’s.

The trail runs from Aoraki-Mt Cook to the coastal town of Oamaru in North Otago.

Being named as one of 16 of the “Best Places to Go” in the world in 2016 is priceless marketing and “something that the whole region should be really proud of”, Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill says.

“It’ll be an amazing thing for the trail,” Mr Gaskill said.

“This is extremely important – it’s recognition that the trail itself, the infrastructure around it, the people who are operating on it and the people who are supplying it are operating to a standard that people feel comfortable to promote.”

Frommer’s describes the trail as ‘‘stunning and cheerfully hospitable” and starting the trail at Aoraki-Mt Cook “sets a perfect standard for awesome”.

“Your local hosts along the trail are happy to greet you and warmly organise food and lodging – after all, they pitched in to create this route for tourists – so come meet them under wide landscapes and huge skies… before the hordes find their way here,” the Frommer’s website said.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is the only New Zealand attraction to feature on the list and appears alongside destinations including Shanghai, Abu Dhabi and Mongolia. . . 

The A2O isn’t finished yet but is already bringing lots of visitors and providing business opportunities for people servicing and selling to tourists.

Tourism is broadening the district’s economy, lessening its reliance of agriculture and it’s opening the eyes of locals to the many charms of our home patch.

Today I’m grateful for visitors who appreciate what we’ve got and help us appreciate it to.

P.S. The Frommer’s Best Places to Go list is here.

 


McCaw country

October 29, 2015

Riche McCaw was born in Oamaru. He was brought up on the family farm in the Hakataramea Valley, and started his schooling and his rugby in Kurow .

The town is celebrating its favourite son and paying tribute to other All Blacks who once called this place home.

mccaw country

The ODT has the story behind the sign and the story of the bales which are the work of Justin and Janina Slee.

All fingers and toes are crossed that there will be a third bale with the kiwi skewering a wallaby added on Sunday.


Things to do in Oamaru

May 11, 2015

This video shows some the Oamaru’s attractions and is accompanied by this commentary:

5×1 can be realistically accomplished in Oamaru and the surrounding Waitaki area as everything you need is right at your doorstep. Coastal Otago is perfect as it boasts an abundance of natural wildlife and breathtaking beaches, the beautiful Historic town of Oamaru, and a vibrant culture of creative and passionate people, attract young tourists to the region. Being a small town is not a negative for the youth traveller, as having a unique one-on-one experience with the locals (and eating amazing food for small town prices) is a once-in-a-trip lucky find, with many travellers revisiting and bringing their friends along on their next trip. Don’t let Oamaru wait to be found, New Zealand’s coolest town (‘Seven Sharp’ Public Poll) is the best place to plan your next holiday.


Things to do in Oamaru

May 1, 2015

Victorian Oamaru events for May:

Saturday 11th April – Sunday 24th May
Bodytok Quartet: the human instrument archive at the Forrester Gallery A sonics from scratch project. ‘The human body is our first instrument. Every one of us can make sounds which are as unique to us as individuals as our fingerprints or facial features. Our bodies are the sites from which all communication and music stems. This installation creates a visual and non-verbal sound conversation between viewer and on-screen performer.’

Sunday 3rd
Taste of Autumn at the Oamaru Farmers Market – celebrating the seasonality of our region!

Thursday 7th
Adventure Books presents: John Crick ECO ROCK – Ecology & lore of Kiwiland with a laugh & a song. Join us at 6pm!

Evening with Allyson Gofton: 7.30pm Loan & Merc Building in the Victorian Precinct. $15 per person. Funds to local Hospice Building. Organised by Lions Club of Oamaru and Paper Plus. Tickets available from Paper Plus.

Saturday 9th 
Oamaru Penguin Club: Peter Coulton with an acoustic tribute to Johnny Cash- 8pm

Saturday 16th 
Oamaru Penguin Club: “Pick at the Remnants and Friends” 8pm.

Saturday 18th – Sunday 31th May
Jackie Margaret at the Forrester Gallery Local artists Jackie Margaret presents a series of inspired still life and botanical paintings. These works are sculptural and almost come ‘alive’ with movement and colour.

Thursday 28th
The Ice Suite: Direct from Australia for Steampunk NZ. Symphonic Electronic Live Music and Digital Visual Performance commemorating the heroism and tragedy of Arctic Explorer Robert Falcon Scott as perceived by multi-media ensemble co.sonance. 6pm Adventure Books, Oamaru.

Friday 29th
Oamaru Penguin Club: Jam Night.

Oamaru Fire and Steam festival

Friday 29 May 6.30pm (Queens Birthday Weekend)
Oamaru Fire and Steam festival is a fire, steam, sound and lighting spectacular. This premier event will take place in Harbour Street on Friday 29 May 2015 from 6.30 – 9.00pm. It is an evening of fire themed entertainment for the entire family produced by professionals.


The unique Victorian architecture of Harbour St will be beautifully illuminated with feature lighting displays, smoke effects, controlled explosions, projected images, music, bands, dancers, sports and films.

Oamaru Farmers’ Market

Sundays 9.30am – 1pm
Tyne Street, Harbour Area, Oamaru

Taste of Autumn at the Oamaru Farmers Market – celebrating the seasonality of our region!

Meet the growers, farmers and producers of the best seasonal produce our region has to offer. You’ll be sure to find a fantastic selection of fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, plants, baking, preserves, eggs and more.

Take the time to enjoy the Oamaru Farmers’ Market experience. Grab a coffee and a tasty bite to eat, listen to some music and catch up with friends.

Steampunk NZ Festival

Thursday 28 May – Monday 1 June (Queens Birthday Weekend)
The Premier Steampunk event of the Southern Hemisphere is based in the Steampunk capital, Oamaru, New Zealand.

A 4 day event with markets and music, feasting, racing of teapots, airships and magic carpets, – and much more madness; then short story and steampunk literary readings, workshops and dancing. The highlight is the Fashion Show and to top it all a Gala Ball.

Special guest for 2015 is International Steampunk Personality Montague Jacques Fromage from Manchester Township, New Jersey, USA. Montague will be headlining the After Oamaru on Fire music extravaganza on Friday 29th May, involved in as much as he possibly can be on Saturday 30th and then MC at the Steampunk NZ Fashion Show on Sunday 31 May.

The finest dressed, the most fantastic sci-fi accessories and the most friendly, welcoming people, all having fun in the most natural Steampunk backdrop of Oamaru’s Victorian architecture. There is the festival events and then there is the rest of the Waitaki District to enjoy.

Steampunk Events:
28th May: 2015 Steampunk NZ Festival Passport- Loan & Merc and the Oamaru Club.
28th May: Steampunk Magic Night- Early Settlers Hall 6.30pm Family Entertainment.
29th May: Steampunk Friday Night After Party – Loan & Merc 9pm.
30th May: Steampunk Writers’ Workshop with Nathalie Brown 2pm. Early Settlers Hall.
30th May: Steampunk Literacy Readings – 3.20pm Early Settlers Hall
30th May: 2015 Steampunk Market. 10am Oamaru Club.
30th May: League Victorian Imagineers Mess & Dinner & Steampunk Racing. Loan & Merc 5.30pm.
31st May: Steampunk NZ Fashion Show. Oamaru Club 3pm.
31st May: Steampunk NZ Gala Ball. Oamaru Club 7.30pm.
 


New York, Cuba, New Orleans, Prague, Paris, Sydney – and Oamaru

January 22, 2015

Natwick Photography (Natasha ‘Natwick’ Chadwick) has declared Oamaru New Zealand’s best kept secret and a photographer’s paradise:

Heading to New Zealand’s south island for a photographic sojourn, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better location to shoot and to relax than Oamaru. A small harbour side town, located approximately three hours south of Christchurch on the East coast, is a photographer’s paradise. . .

She also rates it as one of the most photographic places in the world:

This vintage town provides spectacular backdrops in abundance whether you’re shooting portraits, streetscapes, movies or wildlife. Around every corner is a setting worthy of a photograph. Having travelled much of the world taking pictures, I rate Oamaru in my top ten for destinations to photograph. It’s up there with New York, Cuba, New Orleans, Prague, Paris and Sydney. . .

And concludes:

I spent my days there photographing the streets, the buildings and the marina. And, of an evening I did timed-exposures of the harbour, much to the disgust of the local penguin colony which came to shore and nestled in the rocks or beneath overturned beached dinghies at night – right where I happened to position my tripod. I sat there beneath the twilight blue evening sky, photographing boats on a still harbour, listening to the gentle cries of penguins – it was a magical experience.

 Oamaru is a place of strong lines and much character as you’ll see from my collection of photos. In only two days I captured hundreds of images and could have taken more. One thing it guarantees, I will return. And if not for the pictures, I’ll go back for the best fudge and whisky tastings New Zealand has to offer. Need I say more! . . .

Clicking on the link at the top of the page will allow you to see some of the photos she took.

 


Things to do in Oamaru – Steampunk

January 5, 2015

Oamaru is New Zealand’s steampunk capital and a highlight of any visit to the town is Steampunk HQ.

steampunkhq

 

Steampunk is a quirky and fun genre of science fiction that features steam-powered technology. It is often set in an alternate, futuristic version of 19th century Victorian England.

The Steampunk future is driven by unusual steam powered devices – the ‘world gone mad’ as Victorian people may have imagined it. Examples are machines like those in the writing of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, and in tv shows such as Dr. Who.

Oamaru is an ideal setting for Steampunk art and activities, given the wonderfully preserved and thriving Victorian buildings.

The building was originally called Meeks Grain Elevator and was built in 1883 from designs by Architects Forrester and Lemon for the grain traders and millers J. & T. Meek. Oamaru was at that time a flourishing sea port, and bigger than Los Angeles.

The five storey building was the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere at the time. In 1920 the top two storeys were destroyed in a spectacular fire.

Steampunk HQ, which opened in November 2011, is an art collaboration proudly based in Oamaru, New Zealand. It sets out to portray an industrial version of steampunk, with a giant sense of humour and larger than life visions of an off the wall steampunk universe. Steampunk HQ is well known for its full scale train engine that spits fire and billows smoke The Lonely Planet Guide rates Steampunk HQ as one of NZ’s best new tourist attractions.

Wanderlusters visited Steampunk HQ and wrote:

. . . In this cultural display of art, fashion and sculpture, one man’s trash is literally another’s treasure.

Steampunkers reconstitute the familiar into the weird and wonderful in a bid to create an alternate dimension.

Peculiar contraptions hiss and pop as they send you kicking and screaming into warp speed, destined for worlds far beyond our comprehension.

Mayan counters track the passing of time and predict the end of the world as we know it, subliminal messaging interrupts rational thought and radio waves bounce around your brain, feeding you messages from the other side.

The fashions incorporate fabric and object without prejudice.

Merging the line between form and function these alluring designs adorn the colourful characters who call the world of Steampunk home. . .

If your curiosity allows I highly recommend taking a trip into this neo industrialised fantasy world.

As you explore the dimly lit curiosities of Steampunk HQ you are transported into another dimension.

One of unexplainable sights and sounds.

80’s computers emit puffs of smoke as they dial out to connect with the either, steam powered portals spring into life as they sync with alternate dimensions, the creative remnants of previous inhabitants litter the floor, light bulbs flicker and the sound of static fills the air.

A loud rhythmic ticking keeps the ensemble in time. . .

Steampunk HQ is at the norththern end of Oamaru’s historic precinct.

Steampunk also provided the theme for the playground to the south of the precinct over the road from Friendly Bay.

steampunk playground

 

 

 

 

 

A steampunk- themed café is about to open nearby too.

The annual steampunk festival held in June attracts a growing number of visitors, among whom last year was Curious Kiwi.  Follow that link for words and pictures.

P.S.

This is one of an irregular series of posts on things to see and do in Oamaru and the Waitaki District.

You’re welcome to add your ideas for visitors to this area o further afield.

 


Things to do in Oamaru

December 30, 2014

A few years ago friends came to stay a couple of nights on their way to Wanaka.

They ended up forgoing the trip to Central Otago in favour of staying longer with us.

It was one of those golden summers when days at the river a few kilometres from home were far more attractive than coping with holidaying hordes in more populous spots.

Not every summer is like that but the last few days have been good for holiday makers. We’ve had enough heat to enjoy the beaches or rivers but not too much to make other attractions too much of an effort.

When our friends visited, nearly three decades ago, Oamaru wasn’t regarded as a holiday destination.

That’s changed.

Lonely Planet, which had just two pages on the town five years ago now gives it nine and has dubbed Oamaru the coolest town in New Zealand.

An Explore Waitaki App will help you discover the district’s charms, find what’s where and how to get there.

I have yet to download it so don’t know if it will take you to places the locals go to cool off when the weather cooperates.

Rivers change and Gemmels Crossing where I spent many summer days as a child is no longer so good for swimming.

But there are still good swimming holes further up the Kakanui River near Clifton Falls and the Waitaki River also has some great picnic and swimming spots.

For those who prefer beaches, there’s Campbells Bay, All Day Bay and Moeraki.

Oamaru and the Waitaki District  hinterland have lots of other attractions.

Oamaru Today is very good at highlighting things to see and do and I’m planning to write posts about the area over the next few days.

You’re welcome to add your own ideas for holiday makers in North Otago of further afield.

 

 

 


Trickle down works with irrigation

December 22, 2014

The trickle down theory has been discredited in economics but it works with irrigation and North Otago Irrigation Company’s decision to extend its scheme will provide a boost for the whole region:

The decision by the North Otago Irrigation Company to expand its scheme is a big Christmas present for the region. David Bruce looks at what it means.

It’s a pun, but the trickle-down from new irrigation in North Otago is evident in all sectors of the community.

And it’s the old story – when farmers are doing well, so is North Otago. When they shut their chequebooks, all North Otago suffers.

The figures for the first stage of the North Otago irrigation scheme, opened in 2006, tell the story, and here comes the second stage.

Our farm and the two immediate neighbours had four houses on them before the first stage of NOIC’s scheme brought water to our valley, now there are 14.

That has been repeated all over the district and the people living in the new houses have dropped the average age by decades.

The company has committed to a second stage which will spread the benefits further.

An economic benefit study in 2010 of stage 1 said it was ”the single most significant economic development” project in the Waitaki district in recent years.

Until then, and before dairy prices boomed, then collapsed, it had created 76 jobs on farms that now earn $44 million a year more than before. Since then, on-farm development has continued.

More people now live in the irrigated area, many of them young families, which had brought community and social benefits such as increased school rolls.

It also contributed to population growth in the district.

Business people in Oamaru can point to very tangible gains through the whole of the economy, not just from a more stable agricultural sector but new businesses and increases in jobs in existing businesses.

These have resulted in demands for all services, from motorcycles to new houses, and new farm service companies, particularly related to irrigation.

That was echoed by Otago Chamber of Commerce North Otago spokesman Simon Berry who was pleased with the decision.

”The benefits will be felt far and wide through the whole community. The knock-on and trickle down (from stage 1) has already been shown to be major,” he said.

In terms of new businesses, the chamber had noticed not only people returning to Oamaru but also coming in to set up new businesses, he said, quoting the Tees St Cafe and Scott’s Brewery as recent examples.

Another example was an Oamaru company which was building dairy sheds but had now expanded in to prefabricated buildings and housing which it was selling, not only in North Otago but other expanding regions.

”There are the irrigation servicing companies who are growing or have moved in to town to support the development.”

All that activity was benefiting sub-contractors such as painter and plumbers.

”Anyone who tries to get a tradie will know that.”

That was all a direct result of irrigation, Mr Berry said. . .

The mood in North Otago has been increasingly positive since irrigation first came, even when the weather’s dry and drought’s threatening as it is now, in spite of some rain at the weekend.

Nothing beats water from the sky, but there’s now enough critical mass under irrigation to drought-proof the area, giving farmers on dryland options to sell stock and/or buy supplements or grazing.

The growing optimism has been helped by growth in tourism too.

The little blue penguins, Oamaru’s beautiful old (by New Zealand standards) buildings and more recently steam punk and the Alps to Ocean cycle way have brought more people to the area, providing opportunities for artists, artisans, hospitality and other businesses which service and supply visitors.

The latest Lonely Planet guide to New Zealand crowned Oamaru the coolest town in the country.

The expanded irrigation scheme will provide another boost for the area as money spent by farmers trickles through the rest of the community and into the wider economy.

 

 

 


Capitalising on cool

October 20, 2014

Lonely Planet has crowned Oamaru the coolest town in New Zealand:

Nothing moves very fast in Oamaru. Tourists saunter, locals linger and penguins waddle. Even oft-celebrated heritage modes of transport – penny farthings and steam trains – reflect an unhurried pace. Most travellers come here for the penguins, but hang around and you’ll sense the wellspring of eccentricity bubbling under the surface. Put simply, this is New Zealand’s coolest town.

“Down by the water, a neighbourhood of once-neglected Victorian buildings now swarms with odd balls, antiquarians and bohemians of all stripes, who run off beat galleries, fascinating shops, hip venues and even an ‘urban winery’ most visible are the Steampunks.”

Lonely Planet is the bible of many tourists, especially the FITs – free, independent travelers.

An endorsement like this is promotion that money couldn’t buy and it is now up to the town and wider Waitaki District to capitalize on the opportunity it presents.


Oamaru There and Back

May 25, 2014

TVNZ Heartland’s There and Back aims to discover the real people behind television moments that put New Zealand small towns on the map.

A recent show featured Oamaru.


Rural round-up

April 8, 2014

A taste of Waitaki –  Pam Jones:

Pam Jones travels a create-your-own wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley and gives the region top marks.

There is no formal wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley but it is not hard to create your own.

Take a trip from Omarama to Kurow and back to Oamaru and you will discover pinot noirs and aromatics that knock your socks off with their flavours and minerality.

Then add some gourmet treats or rustic farmers’ fare on the side.

It is a recipe for a wonderful day of wining and dining, or stay the night at places along the way to turn it into a multiday sojourn.

We start our loop at the Ladybird Hill Cafe, Restaurant and Winery in Omarama, tucked to the side at the southern entrance of the busy crossroads town. . .

Edendale Nursery sold to large forestry biotech – Sally Rae:

Forestry biotech company ArborGen has expanded its stable of nurseries with the acquisition of Edendale Nursery in Southland.

ArborGen, in which NZX-listed Rubicon has a 31.67% stake, is the largest supplier of seedlings in New Zealand.

It sells up to 25 million trees annually, predominantly in the North Island, and owns five production nurseries, two seed orchards, and a manufacturing facility for the production of radiata varietal seedlings. . . .

Making horseshoe among Young Farmers tasks – Sally Rae:

When Sonja Dobbie entered the North Otago district final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, she did not expect to do well.

The competition was held at Totara Estate, near Oamaru, last November and members of her Five Forks club encouraged each other to enter to ensure good representation.

But Miss Dobbie (23), a first-time entrant, finished third behind Marshall Smith (Upper Waitaki Young Farmers) and Steven Smit (Glenavy-Waimate), ensuring her a place in this month’s Aorangi regional final. . .

Sustainable, High-Performing Dairy Operation Collects Supreme Award In 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Okaihau dairy farmers Roger and Jane Hutchings are the Supreme winners of the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Judges described the Hutchings’ 680-cow business in the Bay Of Islands, Lodore Farm Ltd, as a very sustainable high-input system which is profitable across all aspects of the operation.

“There is a clear balance between the financial performance of the operation and the environmental and social aspects.”  . . .

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints top genetics positions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has appointed a Chairman and General Manager to run the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

Former Landcorp CEO and Massey University Chancellor Chris Kelly will chair the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Board and Graham Alder the former Genetics Business Manager of Zoetis, has been appointed General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

The appointments follow the successful vote at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting to combine the organisation’s current genetics investments. This means Sheep Improvement Ltd (the national sheep genetic dataset), the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test and Ovita, with added investment in beef genetics, come together with government funds to create the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics. . .

More success for PGP programmes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming success by three Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes this week, including an award nomination for a revolutionary seafood programme.

“The Precision Seafood Harvesting Programme has been nominated for a KiwiNet Research & Business Partnership Award. This is fitting recognition for a programme that could revolutionise the global fishing industry.

“The programme is developing new sustainable fishing technology that will allow fish to be landed on fishing boats alive, and in perfect condition, while safely releasing small fish and other species.

“The potential economic and environmental benefits of this are huge, and it’s no surprise it is attracting so much attention. This is a $52 million project with funding coming from both industry and government.” .

Another PGP programme – Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Ltd (SPATnz) – has also reached a milestone in selective breeding of greenshell mussels. . .

Telecom’s expanding mobile network connects locals in the Far North:

Locals and visitors to Houhora, Pukenui and the coastline north to Rarawa Bay may notice a boost in mobile coverage in the area, with Telecom announcing today that it has invested more than $175,000 on improved coverage to the region.

Telecom’s investment in the Houhora Central Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) site responds to the increasing demand for mobile coverage in the area and will give locals and visitors added access to voice, mobile broadband and text services over the Telecom mobile network, which has been built specifically for smart phones.

The improved mobile coverage is part of Telecom’s commitment to open up access to mobile data and applications for rural communities. . .

New Zealand seafood goes online in China promotion:

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) has joined forces for the first time with China’s most popular business-to-consumer online shopping platform Tmall.com, to promote New Zealand seafood in a week-long campaign.

The promotion with Tmall.com will take place between 9-15 April, allowing Chinese shoppers to buy live seafood fresh from the sea in New Zealand, then have it packaged and air freighted to Shanghai within 36 hours. Within 72 hours, the seafood orders will be delivered to Chinese consumers across the country. The New Zealand products available for sale include paua, greenshell mussels and Bluff and Pacific oysters.

The ability to sell and deliver live seafood to Chinese consumers is a significant milestone. A similar Tmall.com campaign with Alaskan seafood last year resulted in a total of 50 metric tonnes supplied to Chinese consumers. . .

The ‘B’ word – Mad Bush Farm:

Yesterday I read the forecast for Northland and I used the “B” word. It’s now Autumn, and yet again we’re in a drought. So is the Waikato and things are looking rather grim where rainfall goes. I’m letting the Toyota crew there say the “B” word on my behalf, and the rest of the rural crew out there looking up at the skies and praying it rains and soon!


Auckland exodus sensible move for retirees

January 13, 2014

Retirees in Auckland are doing their sums and finding they add up to a better answer outside the city.

A tidal wave of cashed-up retired Aucklanders will help drive up property prices in Mount Maunganui and Papamoa, a leading city real estate agent has predicted. . .

John O’Donnell, who owns LJ Hooker’s branch in the Mount and Papamoa, . . . said half of the people coming through their doors were baby boomers aged over 60. They were people taking their life’s savings out of Auckland and building or buying in the Mount and Papamoa.

“It is the start of a tidal wave of people coming out of Auckland.” . . .

Selling up and settling elsewhere is a sensible move for retirees if they don’t have strong family or other ties to Auckland.

It could put pressure on other hot-spots but there are plenty of other places for retirees to settle.

An Oamaru real estate agent told me she’s seeing some Aucklanders down this far.

They are able to sell a modest home up there, pay off any mortgage, buy a much better property down here and have a good sum of money left over for a comfortable retirement.

The exodus will take some of the heat out of the Auckland housing market which will be good not just for people trying to buy houses there but for the rest of the economy.


Liking that they like us

January 6, 2014

We were in Canada a couple of weeks ago when a local asked us where we lived.

My farmer said New Zealand, the local said, where in New Zealand?

He said, near Oamaru.

Another young woman walking past overheard and said, “Oamaru, that’s where the penguins are, I loved Oamaru.”

It’s lovely when people like your place, it’s even better when they tell the world as Dustin Main did:

If you’re a small town that isn’t marked on the road map with a giant star to draw in the tourists, you have your work cut out for you.  However, if you’re a town in New Zealand, you probably have an imaginative idea to draw people in.  In Nelson, they have the “World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Musuem” (really).  In Oamaru, they have Steampunk HQ.

If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of “steampunk,” you can think of it as a mix between the old Victorian steam-powered era, mixed with a polished futuristic style.  It’s part sci-fi, part fantasy.

Steampunk HQ is what you get when you gather a bunch of artists in one small town who like to weld large pieces of metal together to make some cool art.  That art manifests itself as runaway steam-powered trains about to launch off of the tracks, blimps taking to the skies, and a skeleton riding a crazy tractor.  And that’s just the start of it. . .

You can read more about Steampunk here and  here.

And more about the penguins here.


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