For a calendar of upcoming events in Oamaru and the surrounding region, visit the Whitestone Waitaki monthly events calendar.


Tourism Waitaki

Introduction to Oamaru

Vanished World Centre

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

Historic Oamaru

Waitaki Web

Oamaru Steam & Rail Restoration Society

North Otago Museum

The Forrester Gallery

The Penguin Club (Local Music)

Historic Totara Estate

Whitestone Cheese Factory

OceanaGold Tours at Macraes - mining, history, fishing

Kuriheka Homestead Tours

The Janet Frame Trail

Moeraki Boulders

...This place is great, it makes you feel at home. We are really looking forward to seeing the penguins tonight....
Paula & Nienke, The Netherlands

One of the nicest, friendliest, cosiest and cleanest hostels I have ever been to. Manager very friendly...
Carl & Tom, England

It's a beautiful and peaceful place...
Park Min Silk, Korea

Wow, I enjoyed the five days here! Pretty hostel with nice stuff - internet, shower - great!
Marianne, Switzerland

With the Empire as your base, you can explore Oamaru, Coastal Otago and the beautiful Waitaki Valley.

Little Blue Penguin Graves Track Oamaru Gardens Oamaru Harbour

Click the scroll arrows below to take a tour through the local activities available to our guests:

  • Little Blue Penguins

  • You can view the Yellow Eye Penguins two hours before sunset.

    Walk to the Yellow Eye Penguins at Bushy Beach Oamaru

  • Steampunk Headquarters

    Oamaru Steampunk
    Annual Steampunk Fashion Show & Gala Ball

  • You've all come to see the penguins, but what about the PENGUIN ENTERTAINERS CLUB? - The Penguin Club

    Book a bed at the EMPIRE on a Friday so you can join in a jam session; we are just around the corner.

  • Entertainment

    The performing arts thrive in Oamaru, with active operatic and repertory societies. Both are known for their high-calibre productions.

    Penguin Entertainer's Club

    The Opera House

    The Repertory Theatre
  • The Globe Nightclub

    Whitestone Cheese - factory for award-winning cheeses - "absolutely delicious"

    Restaurants, Bars and Cafes:
    Supermarkets and Shopping Centre

    Oamaru Aquatic Centre - indoor heated swimming pool & spa, $3.50 a swim. A five minute walk from the Empire.

    Oamaru Cinema

  • Visit Oamaru
    Historic Oamaru

    Historic Oamaru

    Parkside Quarry
    where the limestone comes from...

  • Arriving by wagon and sailing ship
    on horseback or even on foot,
    some searched for gold
    and some for rich dark earth.
    But the treasure they found
    was gleaming white stone
    and they used it to build a town.

  • Join in our regular events

    The mid-winter Masquerade Festival - July
    The Wine and Food Festival - February
    Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations - November
    Harvest Home Totara Estate - March
    North Otago A&P Show - February
    Oamaru Stone Carving Symposium (biannual) - March
    Organic Workshop Weekend - April
  • These Empire guests are ready for the Masquerade

  • Oamaru Steam and Rail

    Take a journey back in time,
    and enjoy train travel the way
    it used to be, with
    Oamaru Steam and Rail.

  • For the Art Lovers...

    Donna Demente
    Whisky Art Gallery
    Watts Davies
    Kathryn Harris-Rhodes
    Tony Gallagher
    Living Heritage Visual Spectacular

    Forrester Gallery

    Stone Carving Symposium

  • Shadowy, strange and slightly scary stories of colonial Oamaru. "Ghostly characters come alive" - recommended by the Empire

    Twilight Tales

    Oamaru Living History Tours

  • Janet Frame

    One of the world's great writers

    Literary tourism in the "Kingdom by the Sea"

  • North Otago Museum

    Totara Estate

    site of New Zealand's first frozen meat export to Great Britain

  • Walks

    Walk through the town, over the hills and beside
    the sea.

    There are numerous walkways about Oamaru
    for all ages and levels of fitness. Ask at the
    Empire for a map.

    Walkway Images - Walkway Information

  • Oamaru Public Gardens

    Just magnificent; too beautiful to miss.

  • Sleep at The Empire, go fishing at sunrise.
    Bring your catch home and cook it fresh in our kitchen.

    Fishing: river & sea
    Horse trekking
    Walking & Tramping
    Rock Climbing
  • Explore the Southern Coast

    If you don't have your own car take a tour or get some friends together and hire a car for a day or two. Both Kakanui and All Day Bay are safe swimming beaches.

  • Moeraki Fishing Village

    Visit the geological wonder of the Moeraki Boulders.
    Best seen at low tide -

    Sea food to die for.
    Internationally reknowned.

  • Waianakarua River

    Waianakarua River provides swimming, walking tracks and picnicking sites.

    Turn left at the signs to Herbert Forest just 1km North from the Mill House.

  • Waitaki Valley

    Now head up the beautiful Waitaki Valley. See the ancient Elephant Rocks in the stunning landscape near Duntroon. The rocks are a favourite destination for local climbers, and were used as the location for Aslan's Camp in the recent file The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

    Travel the Vanished World Trail, discover fossils and the unique geological features of the district, then visit the Vanished World Centre at Duntroon.

    New Zealand's newest premium wine region - Kurow Winery - Ostler Wine

  • Hot Tubs Omarama
    Private, chemical-free

    View the three amazing hydro dams built across the Waitaki River to provide 'clean' electric power to all of New Zealand, and the wonderful water playgrounds in the resulting lakes.

    Cross over the Waitaki River at the Aviemore Dam and return back at Benmore. Beautiful picnic sites.

    Looking for some adventure? visit Omarama Airfield.
    Bi-plane Flights - Gliding


  • And now you've done exploring,
    and you're looking for a bed.
    Be sure it's at The Empire
    that you lay your sleepy head.