Custom House, Oamaru

After seeing  the gull  on Friday morning I explored the waterfront area a bit and then wandered toward the  Victorian Precinct  – an historic area of ‘whitestone’ buildings (locally quarried limestone) with art galleries, traditional crafts, second-hand bookshops, boutique breweries, food outlets and clothing shops. I was rounding the corner into the street and found myself by a double-storey whitestone building that is the North Otago Art Society premises. I went in to explore, more to see the building than the art, and to get a view from the upper level windows. I had a great time, here’s my photo story…

Oamaru, Waitaki District, New Zealand. Photos by Liz, taken 24 July 2020

Click on any photo below to enlarge


The North Otago Art Society own the old Custom House (opened in 1884). The first room I entered was behind the bottom-right window.

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Then I went into the room behind that, shown in the background of this photo. I met two women and was shown through to the staircase via the old strong room, the safe still in the corner. On top of the safe is Flower Power by Vanessa Powell.

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Safe detail.

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Looking back at the strong room from the staircase.

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Winding staircase!

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From the landing at the top of the stairs I viewed the Victorian Rail Overbridge and the waterfront where I’d been earlier.

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Here’s a couple of waterfront photos for context that I’d taken earlier in the morning (when I met the gull).

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The breakwater and Friendly Bay behind the breakwater.

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Back to the Custom House. The first upper room I visited, love the arched windows!

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The more spacious front room.

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Back on the landing I enjoyed viewing this digital art by Paul Wheeler titled Old House in Winter. The artist permitted me to show this photo in my post.

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Back downstairs.. the heavy door to the strong room. Jenny letting me through earlier.

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The front of the safe room door.

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Rather than write a whole lot of stuff… here’s a photo with information about the history of the building. Click on the photo to enlarge. If you can’t easily read the print, click on this link for print-only.

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The entrance from the street.

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Many thanks to the North Otago Art Society.. I loved having a look around!


Text and photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2020)

17 thoughts on “Custom House, Oamaru

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  1. That was an interesting tour around – but it has made me want to get out and about more, just when there’s too much to do to be able to go anywhere. So I’ll have to get planning for a few weeks time…

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      1. Just thinking day-trips…can’t do any right now because next week the gardens fences will start being replaced and that will take three weeks. Lots for me to do before that – cutting back shrubs etc.

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        1. Within NZ everything feels fairly normal now apart from the occasional fright when someone absconds from quarantine – they’ve had to beef up security. We get daily Covid updates but the only new cases for ages now have been from border quarantine where you expect cases to arise. The situation in the US gives me the horrors. Take good care Steve.

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  2. Lovely post, Liz. I visited the Victorian precinct in 2010. I love old buildings, running your hands on the same banister as someone from all those years ago, you can feel their presence. I was amazed at how worn the stone stairs were, by countless feet going up and down.

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    1. It was much more of an adventure than I anticipated. The strong room was an exciting surprise find! I spent ages inside and then bought Nigel back and had another look. There was an intriguing range of art from local artists. Oamaru is the sort of town that attracts creative people, wonderful place. I’d love to attend an art workshop in the big upstairs room! For the record Oamaru is about 3 and a 1/4 hours drive from where we live.

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        1. Oamaru’s great! We have a route choice to Milton – Nigel prefers to go via Raes Junction so we go Highway 90 from home, then 8 till it meets 1. Then we follow 1 to Oamaru.

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            1. Yes, sadly you have no choice at present Mike but I look forward to you making it over here some day. There’s so much that I know you’d love to see and experience here!

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              1. The US stats for COVID-19 don’t seem to be getting any better, so it may be a while. I have a Lonely Planet guidebook for New Zealand that I bought last year and periodically read about additional wonders of the country.

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