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