Janet Frame House, Oamaru

Janet Frame House is the childhood home of New Zealand author Janet Frame.

Janet Frame ONZ CBE (1924 – 2004) is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated writers. The author of 12 novels, four short story collections, one book of poetry, and a three volume autobiography. As well as her celebrated literary work Frame is remembered for her tragic personal life – misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia and spending nearly a decade in psychiatric hospitals. She was scheduled for a lobotomy, which was cancelled after hospital officials learnt that she had won an award for her first novel.

The Frame family rented the railway cottage at 56 Eden Street from 1931 to 1944. Janet lived here from age 6 until she left Oamaru to complete her secondary schooling.

Bill Tramposch was following the Janet Frame Heritage Trail in Oamaru and learnt that 56 Eden Street was not included in the brochure. Bill noticed that property was very neglected and wondered if it could be saved. Bill and his wife Peggy went on to the purchase the house. They set up a Trust and established funding for the restoration of the house.

The house is not a full restoration but rather what they call a re-framing – designed using known facts and recollections. The kitchen for example was rebuilt according to recollections of Janet and her younger sister June.

The house is open daily between 2pm – 4pm between November 1st – April 30th. Although during winter months the house can be viewed by appointment. Entry is $5.

Janet Frame House is located at 56 Eden Street, Oamaru.

Oamaru Lookout Point

Oamaru Lookout Point provides stunning views over the seaside township of Oamaru.

You can drive right up to the top so it is the perfect spot to take in the view and enjoy a picnic.

I did walk up from town, which probably took me about 25 minutes. It is quite steep so wouldn’t recommend walking unless reasonably fit.

The walk back down – very steep

The Lookout Point can also be used as an access point for walking and cycling trails.

Oamaru Lookout Point is located at 1 Tamar Street, South Hill, Oamaru.

Oamaru Public Gardens

Oamaru Public Gardens was established in 1876 and is one of New Zealand’s oldest public gardens.

At the main pedestrian entrance on Severn Street is the Craig Fountain. This Italian marble fountain was gifted by John Craig JP and erected in 1915. The fountain is surrounded by a lawn, bench seats, and colourful flower beds.

In the centre of the Gardens amongst the rose garden is the Display House. It houses exotic plant specimens and is open daily from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

Another highlight is the Wonderland Garden, which features an ornamental stream flowing past a Swan Fountain and a bronze statue created by Scottish sculptor Thomas J Clapperton, and gifted to the Gardens by former Mayor Robert Milligan in 1925.

The Chinese Garden is a tribute to the early local Chinese community. It was created in 1988 as a symbol of friendship between Oamaru and the Chinese community, many of them descendants of the Central Otago gold miners. The garden features many rock and water features, including a colourful ceramic dragon and pandas carved from Oamaru limestone.

Other gardens include a Camellia Garden, Rhododendron Garden, Fragrant Garden, New Zealand Native Garden and Fernery.

There is also a Band Rotunda, Aviary and Children’s Playground. There are many lawns, picnic tables, and barbecues for social gatherings.

Free parking and vehicle access is from Chelmer Street. Pedestrian entrance is either from Chelmer or Severn Street. The Gardens are open from dawn to dusk.

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony offers visitors the opportunity to watch blue penguins in the wild return home to nest after a day’s fishing.

The evening viewing, includes a 20 minute commentary before the penguins arrive by a guide. Penguins return in groups. This is called a raft. The guide will announce a raft’s arrival on the beach and then visitors sit quietly as these noisy creatures make their way up over the rocks and home to their nests – you will hear the penguins before you see them.

Photography and filming is not permitted during the evening as penguins are easily frightened by noise, movement and bright lights. The photos I have included are ones I took the following day when I went to look at the seals resting on the rocks.

Seating is in one of two grandstands. The General Entry Grandstand offers views of the penguins from about 10 to 15 metres away. The Premium Viewing offers individual seating and views only a few metres away from the penguins. Although on the night I visited those in the general viewing still got to see at least one raft of penguins up close as that group had to cross by to get to their nests behind the grandstand.

Another advantage to the Premium Viewing is that as you make your way out to the grandstand you will cross a boardwalk amongst the penguin’s nesting burrows.

The General Viewing Grandstand can hold up tp 350 people. Premium Viewing is restricted to 60 guests.

General Entry Grandstand
Premium Viewing Grandstand

In summer you may see up to 200 penguins. In winter this can be less than 30. When I visited in March I saw over 100 penguins.

The area where the penguins nest was previously a rock quarry. The area was set aside as a protected breeding area for the penguins and in 1993 a tourism operation was established and a penguin-monitoring programme began. The programme provides nesting boxes and maintains the nesting habitat. This includes setting traps to catch introduced predators.

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is located at 2 Waterfront Road, Oamaru.

Hectors’ Coastal Track, Timaru

On my first day in Timaru I walked the Hectors’ Coast Track from Caroline Bay to Dashing Rocks. Read about it here. On the second day I covered the track between Hayes Street/Stuart Street and the Otipua Wetlands.

I picked up the trail at the Timaru Cemetery (Domain Avenue, Kensington, Timaru) and walked along Saltwater Creek.

I followed Saltwater Creek until a wooden bridge and crossed over to the Otipua Wetlands.

In 1997 the Otipua Wetlands Charitable Trust was formed to restore the wetlands and Saltwater Creek to recreate the type of wetland found along the Canterbury coastline before most of them were drained in the early 19th century. Only 10 percent of New Zealand’s coastal wetlands remain.

The four hectare lake in the centre of the wetlands provides a home for local migratory birds to nest. Birds that may be seen here include Royal Spoonbills, Pied Stilts, Swans, Chestnut Breasted Shelducks, Scaup, Mallard and Paradise Ducks, White and White-Faced Herons, Pukekos, Cormorants and Black Billed Gulls.

After this I followed the track back to the Cemetery and walked to Patiti Point. The first European settlers established whale processing sites at Patiti Point. Point Point is a self-contained freedom camping spot.

From Patiti Point I walked to South Beach and finished at Stuart Street.

Caroline Bay to Dashing Rocks, Timaru

The walk to Dashing Rocks from Caroline Bay is part of the Hector’s Coastal Trail in Timaru.

The walk from Caroline Bay to Dashing Rocks takes approximately one hour. The walk starts at the northern end of the Caroline Bay carpark. Follow the track over the Benvenue Cliffs past the old lighthouse. The Benvenue Cliffs provide stunning views of the ocean, Caroline Bay and the Timaru Port in the distance.

This is the site of two shipwrecks. In May 1882 the Benvenue and The City of Perth broke loose from their moorings due to heavy swells. The two ships became grounded and capsized. Nine lives were lost in failed rescue attempt.

From the Benvenue Cliffs follow the track along the top of Waimataitai Beach to Richmond Street.

Turn right into Climie Terrace, going over the foot bridge to Moore Street. This is the beginning of the Dashing Rocks Walkway.

Follow the track along the clifftop. The Dashing Rocks are the result of ancient lava flows that have created basalt columns.

From the Dashing Rocks the track follows the edge of the bay below. The track crosses a paddock to Pacific Street. Cross Pacific Street to Westcott Street and back to Richmond Street to rejoin the path you came along.

It is possible to start this walk at Moore Street. This would take approximately 30 minutes.

Timaru Lighthouse

Timaru Lighthouse, also known as Blackett’s Lighthouse, is a former lighthouse now heritage site at the Benvenue Cliffs.

The wooden lighthouse was designed by John Blackett and was the main harbour navigation from 1878 to 1970. It is a three storey Kauri timbered lighthouse. The lighthouse tower stands at 30 feet protected by a 5 foot dome.

The lighthouse was originally lit by kerosene. This was replaced by gas in 1890 and by electric light in 1920.

In 1980 the Timaru Harbour Board moved the tower from its original position at No. 7 The Terrace to a site in Maori Park.

In 2010 it was relocated again to its current site close to the edge of the Benvenue Cliffs overlooking the sea. It is near the Caroline Bay Aquatic Centre and the pedestrian rail overbridge.

Caroline Bay, Timaru

Caroline Bay is a popular park and beach in Timaru.

After the construction of Timaru’s harbour the currents created a sandy beach. It is Timaru’s only sandy beach – in fact it is the only sandy beach between Oamaru and Banks Peninsula.

In 1902 the Borough Council leased the foreshore from the Harbour Board and decided to turn the bay into a European-style resort.

A summer carnival has been held at Caroline Bay since 1911.

As well as the summer carnival rides and sideshow games Caroline Bay has many facilities including a children’s playground, free barbeques, an outdoor gym equipment circuit, beach volleyball courts, mini golf, tennis courts, skate park and a small train offering rides. 

Beach volleyball courts

The Trevor Griffiths Rose Gardens are also located within the park. You can read more about the rose gardens in my blog post here.

The Piazza crosses the railway line connecting the Timaru CBD with Caroline Bay. Pedestrian access is via a grand staircase or lift.

Caroline Bay is also home to Timaru’s Little Blue Penguins. The penguins nestle up in the rocks next to Marina Parade. The footpath on Marina Parade is the best place to view them after sunset.

Trevor Griffiths Rose Gardens, Timaru

The Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden is a public rose garden in Caroline Bay, Timaru.

The garden was established in 2001 to honour Trevor Griffiths (1927-2010), a local rosarian, who specialised in growing and writing about old roses. Griffiiths published eight books on roses and had a rose named after him by English rosarian David Austin.

Christchurch architect Sir Miles Warren designed the garden, which contains a series of geometric beds radiating from the central pergola. This can be best seen from the piazza above.

The World Federation of Rose Societies recognised the garden as a Garden of Excellence. It has also been named a Garden of National Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust.

The garden contains more than 1200 roses. The best time to visit is late November to early December when the rose season is at its peak. Timaru’s annual Festival of Roses is also held around this time.

The Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden is located in Caroline Bay, adjacent to the piazza.

Sacred Heart Basilica, Timaru

The Sacred Heart Basilica is a Catholic church in Timaru.

This is the third church to be built on the Craigie Avenue property. A wooden chapel opened in 1874. This was replaced by a larger church three years later.

A further larger church building was needed as the parish continued to grow. Parish Priest Father John Tubman visited his brother in the United States who was a priest at the Catholic cathedral in Reno, Nevada. Father Tubman was impressed with the design and had plans drawn up for the new church based on his photographs of the Saint Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno.

Dunedin architect Francis Petrie designed the church in Renaissance Revival style. It is constructed of Oamaru stone, brick and reinforced concrete. The foundation stone was laid on 6 February 1910. The church was completed in 1911 and was consecrated on October 1st that year.

The Basilica’s twin towers and copper cupola dominate the Timaru skyline and are visible when approaching the church.

The Sacred Heart Basilica is located at 7 Craigie Avenue, Timaru.