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The buildings housed a mix of commercial, agricultural, and industrial uses and reflect the economic base of North Otago at that time. By the mid 's depression had set in. The buildings in the Oamaru Historic Area reflect the history of boom and bust in the s and s. Later years saw some economic recovery and new building.

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The later building continued the architectural themes of the boom years — substantial stone buildings with a sense of grandeur, picking up on that early identity and developments. This has created in Oamaru, a strong sense of historical identity that continues to change but is an identity firmly rooted in the past and the vibrant architecture of the town. The views along Harbour Street, along the eastern side of Tyne Street, and from the west down Itchen Street in particular, provide long uninterrupted streetscapes of buildings looking very similar to their appearance in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

These views are possibly the best in New Zealand for understanding the atmosphere of the commercial and warehousing heart of a prosperous late nineteenth century colonial town. The layout, stone technologies, relationships between industries, transport routes such as the railway and the port have potential to provide further archaeological information about the occupation of Oamaru in the nineteenth century.

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Many of the buildings in the area were built between and and follow the prevailing Neo-Classical style. Two of the most striking aspects of the buildings are the degree of ornamentation they exhibit, and the homogeneity of the construction material. This is a reflection not only of the town's late nineteenth century prosperity but also of the special qualities of the local limestone.

During the 's and early 's, many impressive buildings were erected. The prosperity of the period, the easy availability of a first class building stone and the presence in the town of capable designers, united to produce a unique collection of commercial and industrial buildings. Such was the quality of Oamaru's commercial area at the time that it was widely regarded as the "best built" town in New Zealand. The sense of status continued with the twentieth century designs, which have continued the solidity and grandeur of earlier buildings in their modern styling.

Architecturally, buildings in the area broadly follow Classical Revival styles.


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Forrester and Lemon, the practice which designed most of the buildings in the area employed a range Italianate styles which were pared-down and adapted to colonial conditions. The twentieth century buildings carry on the use of stone and the sense of architectural grandeur of the nineteenth century. The close architectural relationships of such a large group of buildings make this a particularly valuable part of New Zealand's built heritage.

Together they form the most complete group of nineteenth century commercial and civic buildings in New Zealand. The Oamaru stone buildings range in age from the s through to the s. The buildings provide evidence of the stone working technologies used and the way these have developed over time.


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  • As many buildings are conserved, the new conservation methods also provide illustration of modern building technologies and the way they are incorporated into historic structures. The Oamaru Historic Area has social significance — Thames Street and the streets around Harbour, Tyne and Tees Streets are the centre of social life, representing meeting places, shopping, worship and cultural activities.

    For both visitors and locals, this area is the centre for community activity. The Oamaru stone buildings and structures have a remarkable coherence and a range of styles but communicate a sense of grandeur and solidity as well as exuberance and solemnity.


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    • The Oamaru Historic Area represents the historic heart of Oamaru — the civic, commercial, and religious lives of the people. In he superintended the Dunedin Exhibition and from he became involved with the supervision of harbour works. Some time after he became Engineer to the Oamaru Harbour Board and in this capacity designed the repairs to the breakwater following storm damage in and later the Holmes Wharf. On his death in he was still in the employ of the Harbour Board. John Lemon was born in Jamaica and travelled to England before emigrating to New Zealand in He settled in Oamaru in and with his brother Charles established a timber merchant's business.

      This partnership was dissolved in and Lemon entered into partnership with Forrester. Lemon had no architectural experience at all, but had a wide circle of business contacts and was an efficient administrator. Forrester and Lemon contributed greatly to Oamaru's nineteenth century character. On Lemon's death in the practice was taken over by Forrester's son, John Megget Forrester The architectural practice was established by Thomas Forrester and John Lemon in and John, the only son of Thomas Forrester, took over the business in Forrester retired in and Ivan Steenson carried on the firm.

      Steenson had joined the practice in and studied carpentry, stone masonry and plumbing, before serving in World War One. After the war he returned to the firm before becoming a partner. The practice was continued by his son Harry until The land around the Waitaki River Mouth shows evidence of extensive settlement, while Moeraki was one of the early cradles of knowledge for Waitaha and Kati Mamoe histories.

      Ngai Tahu named the area in the lee of the cape, Oamaru or the place of Maru, making use of the resources of the area. In , the town was surveyed, and the first sections were opened up for sale the following year. These sections were between Tyne and Tees Streets. Here, some of Oamaru's earliest European buildings were erected among the first being H.

      From the s, as the town grew, serving the rich hinterland with its grain and wool, these buildings were replaced by the stone structures that survive today. The scale and elaborate design of the buildings in the area reflect the vigorous nature of the town's economy. The first buildings were built on Itchen Street and the western side of Tyne Street.

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      In the Oamaru Harbour Board was formed and granted the land on the seaward side of Tyne Street as part of their acre endowment. Harbour Street was the first part of the endowment to be developed, with the land subdivided and leased, providing income for the harbour board.

      The buildings on Harbour Street were grain stores, wool stores and warehouses, ornately designed in Classical style reflecting the wealth of the hinterland and the buoyant economy.

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      On Tyne Street office banks and stores sprung up, servicing the nearby port. From the mids to the early s, the area was the commercial heart of Oamaru. Timber soon gave way to stone. In a town where the streets were still potholed and muddy and the streets reeling with drunkards and larrikins, elaborate limestone buildings lined the streets. They offer cheap bus tickets from A to B to most towns and cities in New Zealand making the bus network the most extensive public transport method in New Zealand. Plus, there are the options to get bus passes to save a bit of cash if you use the bus network a lot.

      Find out more at Bus Networks in New Zealand. Following set routes around the country, Bus tours are a stress-free way of seeing New Zealand in a limited amount of time. Bus tours are usually all-inclusive with accommodation and most meals included, while activities may be included as well.

      They are a good way to travel with like-minded people while your itinerary it pretty much sorted for you as you travel around New Zealand. However, this does mean that bus tours tend to be a lot more expensive than other methods of travel. Like a bus tour, hop-on hop-off buses follow a set route but allow passengers to hop off at most locations along the route for as long as they want and catch another bus at a later date.

      It is a more flexible version of a bus tour, with accommodation and activities suggested but not compulsory. Plus, you are in charge of your own food. Each company offers a wide range of New Zealand trips so take the time to check all our advice before making a decision. Although a stunning way to travel in New Zealand, the train network is pretty small with limited departures in New Zealand, making it an unpopular way to travel around New Zealand as a transport method.

      However, the train journeys in New Zealand are seen more like a scenic experience and may be a fun way to get between the liked of Christchurch and Greymouth in the South Island or Auckland and Wellington in the North Island. For more information, head on over to Train Network in New Zealand. With around 25 domestic airports connected by flights in New Zealand, plane travel is certainly an option to get around New Zealand.

      Planes are usually a quick and cost-effective way to travel long distances usually between the North Island and South Island. On the other hand, they work out more expensive when travelling less than a 4-hour drive, so we would recommend only travelling by plane for long distances accompanied by other forms of transport to get around New Zealand.

      Hitchhiking is completely legal in New Zealand and pretty common practice. For the adventurous and fit type, this certainly could be a way to travel New Zealand over the days it usually takes to complete the trail. We know hiking for days is not for everyone, so check out our hiking category for much shorter hikes. By using this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and the terms of use within it. Contact — Disclaimer.

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