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.