366 days of gratitude


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.



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

It’s not Tourism Bits of NZ


When you live in the country you get used to categories in forms not being specific enough.

Many ask for a city or, at best a town.

Facebook, for instance, keeps asking me to put my home city and gives me no option for living in the country.

That doesn’t particularly worry me as anyone close enough already knows where I live and those not so close don’t need to.

However, being able to tick the right box for your location matters a lot more for businesses, especially one in the tourism industry.

Oamaru tourist lodge owner James Glucksman is concerned that Tourism New Zealand is omitting Oamaru/Waitaki from its list of destinations.

Mr Glucksman who is owner/host of Pen-y-bryn Luxury Lodge with James Boussy in Oamaru, said the matter came to a head when Tourism NZ invited him to Luxperience, an annual trade show in Sydney to promote luxury travel around the world.

The forms he was sent to fill in specified destinations such as Nelson/Marlborough, and excluded Waitaki, mentioning only Dunedin and Southern Lakes. . . .

I checked the Tourism NZ website and on the page aimed at people bringing tourists to New Zealand found only Dunedin and Coastal Otago which, did lead me to Oamaru and the Waitaki District but all it said was:

Oamaru, well known for its white stone architecture.

Back on the homepage I clicked on Planning a holiday go to NZ.com and there found that Waitaki is listed as a destination:

The Waitaki is a place of scenic contrast. Journey along the Waitaki Valley and the landscape changes from green pasture to the dryness of Central Otago.

Snow-capped peaks and beautiful lakes contrast with the bare brown hills that rise up from the valley floor.

Driving towards the mountains, stop and see the Earthquakes, an impressive formation of limestone cliffs. Nearby you’ll find Maori rock drawings made from red ochre, charcoal and animal fat.

Further along the highway, you come to Kurow, a farming town with many historically important limestone buildings. If you like fishing or hunting, this is a good place to stop. Kurow’s also a great place for a spin in a jet boat. 

All of which is good and true – but it’s tells only a very little of Waitaki’s story.

There’s more to the Waitaki Valley than is covered and a lot more to the Waitaki District – including Oamaru with its historic buildings, the Victorian precinct, little blue penguin colony, Steampunk HQ, Janet Frame’s family home . . . . and further afield you have Moeraki,  the Vanished World fossil trail, Alps to Ocean Cycle trail, and many other activities and attractions.

Tourism NZ is:

an international marketing agency responsible for marketing ‘destination New Zealand’ offshore. We market in 12 countries around the world, through more than 100 staff in 16 offices. . . .

It’s not Tourism just bits of New Zealand and destination New Zealand should include all tourist destinations.

Oamaru and the wider Waitaki District are now destinations in their own right. They should be recognised as such not a cursory add-on to Dunedin.

Mine is of course a parochial view but others from further afield share it.

We’ve had friends from all over the world who rave over what they discover in Oamaru and a young Auckland who spent a couple of days with us recently was fascinated and enthralled by what she discovered there.

I had an hour to kill while waiting for a try alignment on Monday and spent it in the historic precinct which was bustling with tourists so people are discovering it.

A little more help from Tourism NZ might direct more people this way.

Google is a traveller’s friend and will lead you to the Visit Oamaru website which would be far more helpful than the Toruism NZ website.

How hard would it be to have Oamaru and Waitaki as a destination on that website with a link to Visit Oamaru and to include them on forms used for trade shows?

Historic Pen-y-Bryn for sale


The historic Oamaru boutique hotel Pen-y-Bryn  is for sale.

The large, single storey house was built as a private residence but now operates as a luxury hotel.

Roy and Bernice Vannini bought Pen-y-bryn, which has a category one Historic Places Trust classification, in 1997. It is believed to be the largest all-timber single-storeyed house in New Zealand.

. . . While they thought it was a bad time to sell, given the world financial markets, people were wanting to invest their money in something “solid and safe” and there had been overseas interest, Mrs Vannini said.

The house had worked very well as a family home for more than 100 years and it could be a private home again if the new owner did not want to run a lodge, Mr Vannini said.

Pen-y-bryn’s claim to being the largest all-timber single storyed house in the country is not undisputed.

Burnside Homestead  at Enfield, inland from Oamaru makes a similar claim, as does Wallingford  in Hawkes Bay.

I have to put parochialism aside and say I think Wallingford is bigger than the two North Otago homesteads but I couldn’t differentiate between them for the quality of service.

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