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Browse through events below or click image above to download pdf 


Victorian Literature

Pre-Celebrations lead up events 2020


Dance Lessons

​Come and learn the dances in preparation for the Heritage Ball.

This year the Friday evening formal Ball to celebrate The London Thirteen Club 130 Years since formation.

Retail Window Display Competition

We invite all local retailers to dress their windows in theme and show off their talents. Take a wander around Oamaru and meet our warm and friendly local business owners. Businesses that compete go into the draw for a $750 advertising package from sponsor Real Radio 104FM.

Daily Events

Steel Bicycle Exhibition NZ
Every year, steel bicycle owners assemble at Ōamaru’s Heritage Week to display some of the best steel bicycles
in New Zealand. A large number of these bicycles, built between the 1900s and 1990s, have a great history, with
some having been raced by well-known competitive cyclists. Steel bicycle activities include daily group rides, as
well as the annual cycling events on Saturday 14 November on Tyne St where steel bicycles and penny farthings
compete for honours.
Ōamaru Squash Club, 14 Tyne St, from Thursday 12 November to Sunday 15 November (10am-4pm). Gold coin

Customs House Gallery
Visit the Customs House Gallery and admire this beautifully restored historic building and the local artwork
inside, which is available to purchase.

29 Tyne St, open Friday 13 and Saturday 14 November (10am-3pm) and Sunday 15 November (10am-4pm). FREE.


Heritage Book Display
Whitestone City will be displaying historic books, including some from the original Ōamaru Athenaeum.
12 Harbour St, Saturday 14 November and Sunday 15November (10am-4pm). Entry by donation.

North Otago Floral Art Society Display
Come and see St Luke’s Church (est.1865), filled with wonderful floral art displays that set off the majesty of
this historic building and the beauty of the stained glass windows.
Cnr of Tees St & Itchen St, Friday 13 November and Saturday 14 November (10.30am-3.30pm), and Sunday 15 November

Wednesday 11th November 2020

Of Ships, Sheep and Grain Walking Tour

10am - 12pm
From an open roadstead, Ōamaru Harbour welcomed migrants, stock and building materials from the 1840s.
Then, as the breakwater and wharves were built, wool, grain and frozen meat was exported to the world until 1970.
From tents on the beach to Ōamaru stone buildings for merchants, bankers and millers, the town and district grew
Meet on corner of Harbour St &Wansbeck St.

$25+booking fees from Rose’s General Store or online at


Make a Miniature Book Workshop and Competition


Learn how to make a miniature book by Ōamaru Miniature Maker, Debbie Price-Ewen, then consider entering our competition for the best literature themed diorama. Judging will be by popular vote at the Ōamaru Public Library under the following categories: Individual (7-11), (12-17), (Adult) and Family. More information about this competition will be made available closer to the workshop date. Workshop numbers are limited to 20 places, so please act fast and register your place at the Ōamaru Public Library Help Desk.

Ōamaru Steam and Rail Workshop Open Day

10am - 2.30pm
Explore the inner workings of the Ōamaru Steam and Rail Workshop. See how things are made and maintained to
keep these historic engines running around the harbour. 

Steam and Rail Workshop behind Steampunk HQ. Gold coin donation.

Ōamaru Garrison Band and Women’s Club Choir

Music at St Paul’s Church features Ōamaru Garrison Band with the Women’s Club Choir. Tea and coffee provided, so
bring your lunch, and come and go as you wish.
5 Coquet St. Gold coin donation.

The Literary Life of William Henry Sherwood Roberts

6pm - 7pm
This talk will explore the varied and wide reaching literary life of an original Victorian renaissance man, Ōamaru’s
own William Henry Sherwood Roberts. Among other works, Roberts penned ‘The History of Ōamaru and North
Otago, New Zealand, from 1853 to the end of 1889’.
Ōamaru Public Library, 62 Thames St. FREE.


Thursday 12th November 2020

Ōamaru’s Classical Architecture Walking Tour

10am – 12pm
Conservation historian Helen Stead takes you under, through, and past some of Ōamaru’s magnificent historic
buildings, linking classical and humble structures created by artisans and pioneers rejoicing in the local availability of
the easily worked limestone that gives historic Ōamaru its distinctive character.
Meet at 1 Thames St.

Tickets $25+booking fees from Rose’s General Store or online at

Waitaki Valley Singers

Enjoy Waitaki Valley Singers’ first midday concert at St Paul’s Church. Tea and coffee are provided, so bring your
lunch and come and go as you wish.
5 Coquet St. Gold coin donation.


Explore our Rural History

Join us for a bus tour through the Waireka and Awamoko Valleys with local guide Mike Gray, exploring this amazing
limestone landscape with its rich farming heritage and ancient marine stories. Visit the Māori rock art at Takiroa,
and Vanished World Fossil Centre and Nicol’s Blacksmith in Duntroon (entry fees included in event ticket).
Departing and returning to the bus stop opposite Star and Garter Restaurant, 9 Itchen St.

Tickets $35+booking fees from Rose’s General Store or online at

Victorian Literature with Fiona Farrell

6pm - 7.30pm
Ōamaru born and bred Fiona Farrell is one of New Zealand best known and acclaimed poets, fiction writers and
playwrights. Fiona has a unique perspective on the history of the Ōamaru Library, having worked in the original
Athenaeum during her high school years. Fiona will be talking about Victorian literature, poetry and plays.
Ōamaru Public Library, 62 Thames St. FREE.

Gentlemen’s Relish (R18 - risque, adult themes)

Experience the ‘other side’ of society in Victorian Ōamaru with a night of burlesque, circus and comedy from the
talented performers from ‘Lads on Tour’ Cabaret and other guests. This year there will be more performers and a few
The Scottish Hall, 10 Tyne St. Tickets $25+booking fees from
Rose’s General Store or online at

Horse and Carriage Rides
Whitestone Funerals are sponsoring Horse and Carriage rides for rest home residents during the week and also
making this memorable opportunity available for the general public during the garden party. Look for the
carriage on your way into the Ōamaru Gardens tomorrow


Friday 13th November 2020


Celebration Ball Practice

9.30am - 11am
Make the most of this opportunity to learn or practice for this evening’s Celebration Ball. The dance
list is at, Facebook page, or by email to
The Scottish Hall, 10 Tyne St. Gold coin entry donation.

Character Costume Competition

​10am – 12pm
Dress as your favourite character or author from Victorian Literature (1837 – 1901) and come along to the Ōamaru Public
Library to have your photo taken. Remember: to enter the competition, you MUST be carrying a copy of the book that
your character is taken from! The judges will announce the winning costume at the Great Photo Opportunity, after the
SouthRoads Grand Parade, Lower Wansbeck St, Saturday 14 November.
Entry forms at the Ōamaru Library on the day. FREE.

Café Promenade

10am – 12pm
Stroll the streets and study the window displays of businesses taking part in the Retail Window Display
Competition, sponsored by Real Radio 104 and supported by the Ōamaru Business Collective. Don’t forget to sample
the fare at our local cafes as you wander around!


​10am - 12pm
Morning Tea at Ōamaru Opera House
A literary (and literal) feast. Step into Ōamaru’s heritage and join the intelligentsia at the Opera House Café for a
morning tea amongst the inkhorns and bookworms.
Ōamaru Opera House, 94 Thames St. Refreshments as charged.

Elevenses with Eliza

​10am – 2pm
Join us for a cuppa and a slice from Eliza Acton’s kitchen, topped off with a small glass of Madeira. Try your hand at
Victorian parlour games, or just relax and have a chat.
Early Settlers’ Hall, Severn Street, just behind the Opera House. $10 per serving

The Cathedral of the blessed Sacrament choir and orchestra at St Patrick's Basilica

​11am – 11:45pm

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Orchestra consists of a nucleus of regular members, who accompany the Choir in monthly orchestral Masses, together with almost all feast days, special events, and concerts, for which appropriate rehearsal is needed. Frequently, the orchestra is heard in its own right, playing instrumental music often written for a chamber orchestra of that nature. Usually, the organ is an indispensable addition. The Cathedral Orchestra was acclaimed for its part in tours to Australia, Europe, the Americas, Asia, Ireland and the U.K, and invariably participates in all such ventures.

St Patrick's Basilica, Reed st

Variety Concert at St Pauls Church


Variety Concert A St Paul’s concert featuring local artists. Bring your lunch. Tea and coffee provided. 

St Pauls Church, 7 Coquet Street Gold Coin Donation

Forrester & Lemon Memorial Lecture with Helen Stead:
Live in the Past, Present & the Future

A free public event organised by the Ōamaru Whitestone Civic Trust, this year the Forrester & Lemon Memorial
Lecture features a personal perspective on historic Ōamaru and Waitaki heritage with historian Helen Stead.
Ink Box, Ōamaru Opera House, 94 Thames St. FREE.

Where We Went and the Adventures We Had

​1pm – 2pm
The Ōamaru Ordinary Cycle Club members present their passion for the ‘ordinary cycle’ (penny farthing),
recounting their adventures on the Heritage Cycle Tour and other thrilling stories.
Ōamaru Library, 62 Thames St. FREE.

Croquet in the Gardens

1.30pm – 3.30pm
Have a go at the popular Victorian pastime of croquet, with assistance from Awamoa Gardens Croquet Club members.
Ōamaru Public Gardens, Chelmer St. FREE.

Crombie & Price Victorian Garden Party

​2.30pm – 3.30pm
Enjoy the delightful elegance of the ever popular Victorian Garden Party at the Ōamaru Public Gardens. Partake of
light refreshments and entertainment while admiring the costumes.
Chelmer St. Gold coin donation for entry & for refreshments.

The Engineering of Meeks Elevator Building

An illustrated evening lecture revealing the inner workings of the Elevator Building (now Steampunk HQ),
in particular the American engineering technology that allowed this building to function, and the Meek merchant
family who were behind this 1880s undertaking.
Ink Box, Ōamaru Opera House, 94 Thames St. FREE.

Pieces from the Past


The Seyb songstresses (who delighted audiences in previous Heritage events: Suffrage 125 in 2018, and the Free Wheeling Women’s Cycle Club Musical in 2019) invite you to a spirited evening of famous and forgotten pieces of Victorian Literature! Pieces From the Past is a collection of poetry and song intertwined with scenes from the Victorian stage play Aristodemus (written by Catherine Crowe). It combines pieces from across the decades of Victoria’s reign to form a delightful show that is both comic and tragic. If COVID has left you devoid of theatrical entertainment for the year, this show will certainly remedy that!

Harbour Street Collective Café, 8 Harbour St

Tickets $10+booking fees.from Rose’s General, online at or on the door 

It’s Friday the 13th! The London Thirteen Club 130 Year Celebration Ball

​8pm to late
In 1890, the London Thirteen Club was established. We invite you to carry on the tradition of defying and
debunking superstition by dancing under ladders, displaying open umbrellas and walls decked with black
cats. Tonica, a quartet from Dunedin, has been engaged to provide demystifying music. A four course buffet supper
will be served throughout the evening and a variety of liquid refreshments may be purchased. Dress code is formal
Victorian ball attire or dress uniform. Ballroom opens at 7pm. Grand March commences at 8pm.
The Scottish Hall, 10 Tyne St. Tickets are limited, and no door sales. Tickets $75+booking fees from Rose’s General
Store or online at

Saturday 14th November 2020


Vintage Car Club Swapmeet

The North Otago Vintage Car Club is hosting their annual Swapmeet, a treasure-trove of delights for all vintage and veteran enthusiasts, something for everyone. 
Entry $5 at the gate, 
A and P Show grounds, Caledonion Road.

Grandma’s Treasures Sale

​10am - 2.30pm
A range of Grandma’s treasures have been dusted off for sale - come and see what delightful piece of china or art you
might like to purchase! Home-made preserves and baking are also for sale, and a Victorian morning tea is available
while you contemplate your purchases.
St Luke’s Church, Cnr of Tees St & Itchen St, Morning tea $5.

Ōamaru Steam and Rail Trip

​10am - 4pm
Welcome aboard the vintage train that will take you on a return trip from the Harbourside Station to the Quarry
Siding in the harbour area. Train leaves every 30 minutes.
Adults $10, children $4, family (2 adults + 2 children) $24.
Tickets at Harbourside Station, pedestrian access via Itchen St. Weather dependent.


SouthRoads Grand Street Parade

​12pm - 12.45pm
Everyone is invited to join (if in costume), or to watch (if not), the SouthRoads Grand Street Parade as it travels
through the Victorian Precinct and lower Thames Street. Victorian costumes, machinery, fun and frivolity will all be
proudly on show. Do you, or an organisation you belong to, want to take part?

Contact if you would like to join the Parade.
Parade assembly 11.30am at corner Tyne St & Wansbeck St, travelling to Meek St and return. FREE.

Great Photo Opportunity

12.45pm - 1pm
Join Ōamaru’s heritage family for a group photograph in costume at the conclusion of the SouthRoads Grand Street
Parade. Presentations will also be made to the winners of the Character Costume Competition and Retail Window
Display Competition.
Lower Wansbeck St. FREE.

Masonic Lodge Open to View

​1pm – 4pm

Victorian authors and poets, including Rudyard Kipling, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, and AlfredLord Tennyson, once shared the bond of freemasonry membership. This is your opportunity to enjoy the uniquearchitecture of Ōamaru Masonic Lodge and chat to a 21st century Freemason while relaxing with tea or coffee and abiscuit or two.10 Wansbeck St. Gold coin entry & refreshment donation.

Bus Excursion Heritage Combination: Special Offer

Combine the Shepherd’s Picnic at Totara Estate, the Wool Bale Stencil Exhibition opening, and a tour of Clarks Mill while it’s operating (details of each of these on following pages) in one bus tour from Ōamaru, and pay one price for all. You will be accompanied by a costumed guide who will provide you with the information you need to make your afternoon both enjoyable and entertaining. Numbers restricted so please book early.
Bus departing from Scotts Brewery after the Southroads Grand Parade at 1pm and returning at 4.30pm.

Adults $55, students $30, children (5-15) $20, Heritage NZ members $25
(booking fees apply). Book at Rose’s General Store or online at

The 26th Heritage Bicycle Championship

New Zealand’s foremost heritage cycling event promises high drama, attracting wheelmen (and women) from all around the globe to take part in sprints, slaloms, relays, slow races, and the ghastly Tyne Street Grunter. Riders, collect your entry forms from the club trailer on Tyne Street prior to 1pm on the day. All riders are encouraged to wear traditional riding attire and the emphasis is on
participation and enjoyment. Prize-giving for each race will be held after each event’s championship race.

Enquiries to or 027 2931059.
Tyne St & Harbour St. FREE.

Shepherd’s Picnic at Totara Estate featuring Wool Bale Stencil Exhibition Opening

​1pm - 3pm
Much of New Zealand’s early Victorian literature was written against the backdrop of the vast new sheep stations of the era, where gentlemen farmers, many of them classics scholars, now had to live in isolated but magnificent conditions while attempting to make their fortunes off the sheep’s back. Not all the novels and poems, stories and songs devised at this time could necessarily be called
‘literature’, but they were ways the musterers, shearers, cooks, even the Boss, would pass the time around the campfire in the long lonely evenings. Here is your chance to visit Totara Estate, one of the mighty estates of this era. Sit round the campfire and perhaps enjoy a yarn or two, chat to the musterer or the swagger, and watch the shearer at work while you enjoy a delicious rustic picnic. This will include the Stencil Exhibition Opening, as detailed below.
Totara Estate, 565 Alma-Maheno Rd.

Adults $25, children (age 5-10) $10, students $15, Heritage NZ members $15 (booking fees apply and bookings essential).

Book at Rose’s General Store or online at

The Secret Lives of Stencils: Wool Bale Stencil Exhibition Opening at Totara Estate

​2pm - 3pm

We are excited to host this small touring exhibition, devised from the research by Dr Annette O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer in Design from Massey University. Dr O’Sullivan has identified the fact that it is important to record this history sooner rather than later, as the objects are being lost or separated from their context as farms change hands and the knowledge is lost. Today is your chance to meet the curator, hear her speak about her work, and maybe contribute some knowledge of your own. This project is a partnership between Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and Massey University College of Creative Arts, and features the history of wool bale stencils and associated branding in New Zealand.
Totara Estate, 565 Alma-Maheno Rd.

Gate sales, no booking required.

Adults $10, students $6, children and Heritage NZ members free.

Victorian Influences on Janet Frame’s writing

​2.30pm – 3.30pm
Join us at Janet Frame’s childhood home to hear Ralph Sherwood read excerpts from Victorian prose and poetry. Janet Frame was inspired by many authors who wrote during the Victorian era, so this is a unique opportunity to experience some of those influences while immersed in the home where she grew to love the written word.
56 Eden Street.

Entry & refreshments $5, door sales.

Also open rest of Heritage Week (2pm-4pm), entry $5.

From Here to There

Join us for a talk on local writers and famous literary visitors in Victorian Oamaru - Twain, Trollope and even Barney White Rats!
Grainstore Gallery, 9 Harbour St. FREE.

Charles Dickens and his Circle


Calling in via video, Lucinda Hawksley, an English biographer, author, lecturer, and travel writer; will be talking about her great great great grandfather Charles Dickens. Delving in to the details of this famous writer, the family and the remarkably diverse group of intelligent, radical, questioning individuals in his orbit: artists, illustrators, poets, social reformers and fellow writers. This will be followed by a Q&A session.

Grainstore Gallery, 9 Harbour St. FREE.

Servants’ Shindig and Shenanigans

​8pm - late
Escape from your daily toil and join your fellow workers for a night of fun and dancing. Let your hair down and have
a knees-up until the midnight hour. Christchurch’s Black Velvet Band will provide the music to get your toes tapping.
A hearty repast will be served and liquid refreshments can be purchased.

Doors open at 7.30pm. The Scottish Hall, 10 Tyne St.

Limited places, booking recommended. Tickets $45+booking fees from Rose’s General Store or online at

Sunday 15th November 2020

Mass at St Patrick’s Basilica

9.30am - 10.30am
Catholic mass followed by morning tea. All welcome, Victorian dress optional.
Reed Street. FREE.

Ōamaru Farmers’ Market

9.30am - 1pm
Meet the growers, farmers and producers of the best seasonal produce the Waitaki region has to offer. You’ll find a fantastic selection of fruits and vegetables, preserves, baking, meat and plants plus hot food and coffee.
Crn Wansbeck St & Tyne St. FREE entry.

Organ Recital

9.45am - 10.30am
Enjoy the magnificent sound of the organ at the historic St Luke’s Anglican Church, as Dr Ron Newton plays a selection of music that would have been popular in the Victorian era. Stay for the service that follows (see below).
Cnr of Tees St & Itchen St. FREE.

St Luke’s Anglican Church Heritage Service


Dress up in your finery and enjoy a church service that moves from Victorian liturgy to modern times, followed by a Victorian

morning tea.
Cnr of Tees St & Itchen St. FREE.

St Paul’s Presbyterian Church Heritage Service

5 Coquet Street. FREE.

Customs House Gallery and Café

10am - 4pm
Relax and enjoy the refreshments at our cafe and admire and purchase local art in our gallery.
29 Tyne St.

Refreshments as priced.

The Network Waitaki Victorian Fete

10am – 4pm
The Network Waitaki Victorian Fete is a day jam-packed with fun for the whole family. You will be thrilled with the
incredible Victorian costumes, street performers, magicians and stilt walkers around every corner, ensuring the day is
one to remember. Come along and join in all the fun of the fair! Dress up in your Victorian best and support a great
cause - this event is the annual fundraiser for the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust with proceeds going towards
preserving New Zealand’s best collection of Victorian heritage buildings here in Ōamaru.
Harbour St.

Entry at gate $10 for adults, under 18s FREE.

Ōamaru Steam and Rail Trip

​11am - 4pm
Welcome aboard the vintage train that will take you on a return trip from the Harbourside Station to the Quarry
Siding in the harbour area. Train leaves every 30 minutes.
Adults $10, children $4, family (2 adults + 2 children) $24.
Tickets at Harbourside Station, pedestrian access via Itchen Street. Weather dependent.

Clarks Mill Open and Operating

1pm - 3pm
You will find many references in Victorian literature to industry and ‘the Mill’, but you are more likely to find
a ‘green and pleasant land’ rather than a ‘dark satanic mill’ when you visit this extraordinary flour mill today.
Built around 1866 as part of the growing entrepreneurial business of the Scottish owners of Totara Estate, the
limestone building was rebuilt in the late 1970s by the then Historic Places Trust (now Heritage New Zealand) and the
machinery restored by a team of volunteers. Many of those volunteers will be on hand today to guide you around the
four floors of machinery, wheels and belts, and then there will be opportunity to see it in action.
Clarks Mill, Maheno, 12 kms South of Ōamaru on SH1.
Adults $10, Heritage NZ Members free, children free but must be supervised. Gate sales, no bookings necessary.


Headstones and Stories Walking Tour

2pm - 4pm
Conservation historian Helen Stead’s final event on the Heritage Celebration calendar is a two-hour walk through
the old cemetery. Laid out in denominational areas, this cemetery is full of stories of individuals, families and
district endeavours, which live on through carved names and dates inscribed in stone.
Meet at Cemetery entrance, opposite 63 Greta Street.

Tickets $25+booking fees from Rose’s General Store or online at

Victorian Hymn Singing at St Luke’s Church

​2.45pm - 3.30pm
Come along and join us as we sing a range of hymns from Victorian times - Ancient and Modern, Wesleyan, and Revival
- while Ron Newton plays the Bechstein grand piano.
Cnr of Tees St & Itchen St. FREE.

Rail Land

Experience a journey of the mind, through song and story, about New Zealand’s on-and-off love affair with passenger rail.
Critically acclaimed musician Anthonie Tonnon celebrates passenger rail in Aotearoa in a poetic exploration of rail, and a
meditation on what it means to us in the modern era.
The Inkbox, Ōamaru Opera House.

Tickets $25+booking fees, from the Opera House, or call 03 433 0779.

Post Celebration Events


Penny Farthing and Vintage Cycle Tour
16 –22 November 2020
This year Ōamaru Ordinary Cycle Club will complete a tour of the wild West Coast on the ‘Westcoast Wilderness
Cycle Tour’.

For more details, contact 027 2931059,, or visit


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