Oamaru is a good place to base yourself while exploring Otago’s many coastal attractions. It is most famous for its colony of blue penguins (the smallest in the world) and yellow-eyed penguins (some of the rarest), but it also boasts an impressively restored historic centre.
Built of Oamaru stone – also known locally as whitestone – and dating back to gold rush years, this district is charming and full of antique shops and cute cafés, making for a pleasant way to spend a day. It also has the Whitestone Cheese Factory with free viewings in the morning. Otherwise, the town is ordinary, but the nearby town of Moeraki and its famous boulders makes an excellent day trip. It is also a popular stop for backpackers on their way to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.