From Rotorua, our intrepid journalists, Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris, traveled to the South Island of New Zealand. It is here just a few hours south of Christchurch, that steampunk has taken a hold of a town; and in turn, a town has embraced steampunk back.
Oamaru is right on the coast, and has a history that dates back to the goldrush years. Many beautiful buildings were built out of the local white stone in this period, and when the gold boom passed they were left behind.
It is this legacy from the Victorian age that has made Oamaru the perfect location for all things steampunk. They were given an indication of exactly how steampunk-friendly this small town was as the keeper of the Ambassador Motor Lodge, on hearing our journalists introducing themselves as science fiction authors, gave them “must see” places in Oamaru.
While en route, their social ætherupdates caught the eye of Iain Clark a.k.a. Agent Darling of The League of Victorian Imagineers. He asked if they would like to meet up for a quick breakfast, a light repast to kick off their morning. “Oh yes, he added, would it be alright if a few local steampunks joined us?”
Being the gregarious sort that they are, Pip and Tee agreed; and upon donning their finest steampunk attire, our journalists turned up at the local café, Steam, for a delightful breakfast…
…with a few local steampunks.
To say our journalists were overwhelmed by the warm welcome of the amazing, imaginative, and creative steampunks of this small, goldrush town of the South Island would be a gross understatement. This motley crew of artists, engineers, and clever sort welcomed our journalists with coffee, scones, and plenty of aroha. Agent Darling had even invited the local press to chat with our journalists…
…discussing only de-classified subjects, of course.
Again and again, Tee and Pip thanked the Kiwi Steampunks for welcoming them to the South Island in style. With a lovely morning unfurling over Oamaru, Steam Café was the epicentre of something grand. Many photographs were taken by passer-bys, many of them asking the immortal question “What is steampunk?”
Our journalists would return in kind, “We are on holiday, as well!”
Their day did not end there. While many of the Oamaru steampunks bid their farewells and returned back to a less-flambouyant reality, Agent Darling, Peter Fleury, Simone Monty, and Roscoe Dangerfield remained to offer Pip and Tee a proper tour followed by lunch overlooking the ocean at The Galley. Through the Historic District of Oamaru, our journalists tumbled down a delightful rabbit hole of astounding treasures and finds, and Tee was given a particularly special V.I.P. tour of a New Zealand distillery where fine single malts were aging in a variety of barrels.
The original plan for our journalists was to depart from Oamaru at noon. They did not take their leave until the hour of four, and even then it was a reluctant goodbye. It had been a delightful and wondrous day; and while their junior agent quickly fell asleep in the backseat of their motorcar, Pip and Tee could not stop talking about their adventure in Steampunk Oamaru. Currently, the League are “gearing up” for the Steampunk New Zealand Festival, and our journalists lament a bit over missing the festivities upcoming in the South Island. It truly was an unexpected surprise, their journey to Oamaru. They knew it would be a delight, but what they experience went well beyond their expectations.
To steampunks everywhere, they are not boasting when calling themselves the steampunk capital of the world. These imagineers have earned Oamaru this distinction.
If you are looking for more steampunk groups in the South Island then may we suggest:
Coming up next: Our journalists are granted clearance to Steampunk H.Q.