Affording Travel

You are so lucky! I wish I could afford to travel.

While Andrew and I have been quite fortunate in our careers and our finances, affording travel is often a choice. It does involve some degree of sacrifice and self-discipline, but affording travel is something that nearly anyone with a desire to travel can do.

Yes, it was both easier and faster to save up enough to quit work and travel for 6 months while we were both working as engineers. We have also successfully managed to save up for months of travel while abroad by working as cooks, cleaners, and supermarket cashiers.

So, how do we afford travel and how can you?

Track your Finances

This could be considered basic life advice as well, but if you don’t know where your money is going, it is really hard to know where it shouldn’t be going and identify where you can save.

For at least 1 month, track your finances while not changing your spending. Programs such as Moneydance, Quicken, and Mint.com make it exceptionally easy to import your spending and filter it into categories such as rent, coffee shops, and doctor.

This makes it possible to figure out where you can start saving.

Use public transport: Bike Path in Dunedin
Use public transport: Bike Path in Dunedin

First and foremost, you should rarely be in a situation where you are spending more than you are making.

Do I Really Need this?

This is one of the most useful questions to ask while trying to save money for any large purchase. It helps to cut down on impulse purchases and gives you more money to save.

For example, if you purchase a starbucks coffee 3 times a week, you are spending approximately $15 per week. If you decided to stop drinking the starbucks coffee, you would have an extra $780 per year to spend on travel.

The worst offender, of course, is eating out. On average, it costs around $5 to bring a packed lunch, whereas eating out will run around $15 per day. Assuming most people work 5 day weeks, this works out to around $2600 of savings each year.

These two simple things, packing a lunch and making coffee at home or at the office make it possible to afford to travel somewhere exotic every year.

If, on the other hand, you are the kind of person who doesn’t eat out, drink starbucks, or make other such purchases, identifying areas of savings can be more difficult.

Begin by looking at clothes, shoes, and material items. Do you really need everything in your house? It might have brought you pleasure to make the purchase, but is it still fulfilling that goal. Selling unnecessary items online through etsy, ebay, or online garage sales can clear your house of unnecessary clutter and help to fund your journey.

Any amount of savings can help towards your travel plans, even if it is only $5-$10 per month. It adds up!

Making More Money

Once you have tracked your finances and created a realistic budget that includes travel savings, it can be good to look at more creative ways to finance your trip. While most people baulk at the idea of having more than one job, a second job needn’t be a chore or take excessive amounts of time. The advantage is that all funds from the second job can be put towards travel!

Some ideas for flexible second jobs include:

  • Selling crafts at local markets (jewellery, knitting, painting, etc.)
  • Offering repair services for jewellery
  • Set up a shop outside a college or university and offer hemming/basic sewing services
  • Website and app design
  • Tutoring or childcare

Choosing Where to Go

If you have a specific destination in mind, then skip to the next section. You will likely already have an idea of what you would like to do and what your budget is.

If, on the other hand, you simply want to travel anywhere, then read on! Where you travel and when can make a huge difference in the price of your trip. Travelling to less tourist-driven areas or in off seasons can mean savings of thousands of dollars, making more frequent travel a possibility.

Some ideas of less expensive options include:

  • Peru
  • Thailand
  • Cambodia
  • Vietnam
  • Namibia
  • Botswana
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Egypt
  • Jordan

Compare your local currency with currencies abroad prior to travelling. If your dollar exchanges 20:1 as opposed to 1.2:1, then chances are you will have more buying power while spending less.

Explore Machu Picchu
Explore Machu Picchu

Choosing when to travel is almost as important. For example, shifting a vacation by 7 days at Disney can mean the difference between paying peak and off-peak prices, resulting in savings of up to $100/night for the same room. Avoid school holidays, Easter, Christmas, and other popular vacation times if at all possible.

Finding Travel Deals

Ah, the all elusive travel deal. Travel deals are more useful the more flexible you can be with your travel, but they can make it a lot easier to afford travel. While other people might pay $4000 for a cruise, by booking at the right time through the right websites, you might only pay $400. Same goes for flights.

So where do you find travel deals?

These are the two best websites that I have found for outright travel deals. It can also be useful to search for things like Groupon, Grabone, and other local discount sites at your destination to try to nab discounted hotel nights and activity vouchers.

What about the all elusive airmiles and travel points for free flights? While these do work, they are more useful programs for people who travel a lot.

That being said though, pick one airline and stick with it. Pick up the credit card for that airline (just remember to pay it off every month!) and rack up the points. Some credit cards also offer bonus incentives that allow you to earn a free flight for signing up and spending a certain amount in the first few months.

If you happen to live in the United States of America, look for these more as you are not penalised for signing up for credit cards and cancelling them in your credit score. There are a lot more deals too.

Saving Money While Abroad

Saving money while you are travelling is also a good way to afford travel. Even while travelling in more expensive locations such as Germany, Britain, Canada, and Japan, there are some simple things that you can do to cut down on your expenses and still enjoy your trip.

Eat local. If at all possible stop by the local supermarket and pick up an assortment of snacks, lunch meats, milk, and cereal. Preparing even 2 our of 3 meals in your room will cut down substantially on your food spending while abroad.

Eat early. Many restaurants have smaller and cheaper lunch menus with similar portions to their dinner menu. It is also more likely to find 2 for 1 deals and such around lunch time than at dinner time. If you can, research ahead of time, but otherwise, just ask to see the menu.

Local Restaurant with Plenty of Lunchtime deals
Local Restaurant with Plenty of Lunchtime deals

Choose your accommodation wisely. If there is a campground with rooms, they are likely cheaper than a local hotel. If there is a local hotel, it is likely cheaper than the big-name hotel, even for the same quality. Many hostels also offer private, semi-private, and family rooms that are significantly cheaper than hotel prices. This will give you more money to splurge on a few nights at a very nice hotel or to try out that skydiving lesson.

If you want more tips on how to save or specific tips suited to you, please feel free to send me an email at elizabeth@adventureisthere.com or to check out my travel consultations!

Skiing Queenstown – Treble Cone

You can’t visit New Zealand without nearly every person you meet asking if you have been to Queenstown yet, asking if you are going skiing, and telling you that the South Island is the most beautiful. While living in Dunedin, Andrew and I decided to take a weekend trip and see what all of the fuss was about!

We picked Treble Cone to go skiing, which is actually in Wanaka, a small town just north of Queenstown. It was indeed quite beautiful! Treble Cone boasts the South Island’s largest ski area and features the longest vertical rise as well.

Road clearing equipment
Road clearing equipment

For us, Treble cone also made the most sense since, once we worked out the prices, it was cheaper to rent a car from Jucy, spend the night in Queenstown, and take advantage of the ‘driver ski’s free’ program that the rental car company had.

Green grass and...skiing?
Green grass and…skiing?

It was certainly a bizarre and different experience, right from the start. Andrew and I spent the night in Wanaka, where the overnight temperature hovered around 5C. We got up in the morning to beautiful blue sunny skies, green grass, birds chirping, and flowers on the bushes. The daytime temperatures were around about 10C in Wanaka itself! Certainly pleasant weather for the weekend. We saw snow on the tops of the mountains and, indeed, there had been a fresh snowfall overnight, giving us nice fresh powder on the slopes.

Getting There

Andrew putting on snow chains
Andrew putting on snow chains

The drive from Wanaka to Treble cone itself took about 15 minutes, which was nice considering that we ended up making the drive twice. I am from Canada, grew up there, and I have never put snow chains on tires. I learned how to do it while working at Halliburton and even assisted the guys put tires on the trucks on occasion, but I have never been required to do so myself. Thus, we were not even thinking about needing snow chains in the rental car as we started driving up the mountain towards the ski field.

We hit chain up bay 2, where there was a ski patrol warden checking all vehicles for chains prior to allowing them the rest of the way up the mountain. The road was ridiculously steep, but it was muddy/icy gravel…I didn’t feel unsafe driving without the chains, but apparently we had to have them. So, back down the mountain we went and back into Wanaka to rent snow chains.

We had rented skis, boots, and poles in Wanaka the night before since it was cheaper than on the slope and the same rental place was more than happy to rent us chains. They also apologised for not mentioning it the night before and offered us a discount, which was quite appreciated.

Skiing at Treble Cone
Skiing at Treble Cone

So, back out to Treble Cone we drove and back up the mountain. It was quite strange starting driving up a grassy mountain that slowly got more and more snow. There were signs for mountain bike trails and people actually driving up with mountain bikes! They just started on the trails that were still below the snow-line. Skiing and mountain biking on the same mountain at the same time…just weird. We hit chain up bay 2 and pulled over to put chains on. Andrew took one and I took the other. I got mine faster than him! Not that it was a competition, of course. We asked the warden to double check that we had done it correctly, which he was quite happy to do for us.

We continued driving with our newly chained tires around another couple of steep corners. I guess that the chains were more of a liability thing and mostly for those unfamiliar with driving in snow. They definitely needed a larger parking lot though since we ended up parked on the side of the mountain road with about 300 other vehicles. They were then running shuttles along the road to the top. I really don’t understand why they don’t just run the shuttles to the bottom where there is tonnes of parking available and people don’t need snow chains. Either way…we parked, caught a shuttle, and went skiing!

Going Skiing

First run of the season!
First run of the season!

Getting our lift passes was a quick and painless process. We were handed little RFID cards with our pictures on them, even for a day pass. That way, if we came back, we could re-use them with no issues! They also had a discounted day rate for those skiing from after noon until close. Skiing closes around 5pm with no night time skiing available at Treble Cone.

Start with the green slopes!! This is always a good idea when it is the first run of the season. Andrew and I quickly learned, however, that what counts as a green or a blue slope in one country might be very different in another.

I am not the best skier. Green runs are great, along with the occasional blue slope thrown in. I can do easy black runs, but they are usually accomplished by spending almost as much time on my butt as on my skis. In Canada, that is. At Treble Cone Andrew and I spent the first few runs on the green runs and then the rest of the time on the blue and black runs. The blue runs here would be a difficult green at Kicking Horse and the black diamond runs here would be an intermediate blue to an easy black at home. Each run lasted about 10-15 minutes and then it took us about 5-10 minutes to get back through the line and up the chairlift to the top.

Treble Cone Trail Map
Treble Cone Trail Map

The snow was plenty thick with relatively little ice. Most of the runs were groomed with some soft powder. The snow was definitely a lot stickier than what is normal in Canada. The runs were nice and very open, with strong winds and colder temperatures at the top. There are two main ski lifts, along with a magic carpet lift for the beginners area. It is good to check the trail map and route closures. When we were there the entire Saddle basin and second lift was only open for about 2 hours due to the snow conditions.

One thing that I found really interesting and an excellent idea was that the bunny hill was completely free! They encourage parents to bring their kids and people to bring their friends to try out skiing for the first time for absolutely no cost. I guess the reasoning is that if they get you hooked on skiing that you are more likely to spend more on lessons and lift passes for life than if they try to get a lot of money from you right as you are learning. Beginner lessons also include a free 3 day lift pass to the easiest lift.

Treble Cone Main Lodge
Treble Cone Main Lodge

There was a nice little cafe and seats at the top of the mountain and a full service lodge at the base. Andrew and I packed our own lunch to make things cheaper, but the food from the cafeteria certainly looked and smelled fantastic! We shared a table with some other travellers while we enjoyed our lunch and then went back to skiing.

At the end of the day we were lucky enough to see a kea, a local New Zealand bird that is extremely rare. The views were simply stunning and the skiing was, although not as good as Kicking Horse, still fantastic.

A New Zealand Kea
A New Zealand Kea

If You Go

The ski season in New Zealand is relatively short and somewhat unpredictable. The slopes are sometimes open as early as May and stay open into November. Some years the slopes don’t open until July and are closed again by mid-September. The best skiing is generally mid-August to early September.

Stunning views from the top
Stunning views from the top

Bring snow chains. Most ski rental shops and most rental car companies are able to rent you chains for the day/week. The ski rental shops have less selection but are generally cheaper.

Most ski rental shops are also able to rent additional gear: snow pants, jackets, gloves, goggles, helmets, and other winter sport essentials.

Wanaka is cheaper than Queenstown and has a larger range of accommodation options. It is also good to remember that the holiday parks and campgrounds are open year-round. Most holiday parks offer cabins for extremely discounted rates (think around $50/night). The only catch is that you have to bring your own bedding for the cabins. I think for a $50 difference each night, I would make sure to pack my sleeping bag.

Dunedin Midwinter Carnival Lantern Festival

The Dunedin midwinter carnival happens every year around mid-June. Yes…midwinter is in June and the seasons still mess with my head. This year it was on the 18th of June. Andrew and I were fortunate enough to be in Dunedin for the midwinter carnival so decided to check it out.

Unfortunately we missed out on some of the events leading up to the midwinter carnival. There are lantern making workshops, where families can make beautiful paper lanterns to contribute to the festival atmosphere.

Cloud lantern performers
Cloud lantern performers

Each year, the midwinter carnival has a different theme to it. This year’s theme was ‘Future Worlds’ with a variety of science fiction outfits, lanterns, and music. The festival consists of around 130 different performers, hundreds of lanterns, and around 1000 lantern carriers, as well as food and live music.

Nicely lit buildings around the Octagon
Nicely lit buildings around the Octagon

The midwinter carnival procession started just after dark and wound its way around the Octagon of Dunedin (basically the downtown central square that is octagon shaped). Andrew and I were early enough that we got a seat right at the front. We didn’t want to worry about trying to park our campervan downtown in the crowds so we parked a couple of kilometers out and rode our bikes in. Turned out to be a good decision because it was quite crowded!

Skycity Lantern
Skycity Lantern

The lanterns at the midwinter carnival were absolutely beautiful to see. Amazing what can be done with sticks, paper, and candles! I was actually quite surprised that they weren’t using LED candles. Even more surprising is that none of the lanterns caught fire! Good design, I guess. There were a number of stilt walkers, acrobats, dancers, musicians, and other performers as well, making for an interesting show. They circled the Octagon twice, which made it really easy to see everything.

Future World Lanterns
Future World Lanterns

Following the lantern procession, Andrew and I wandered the food alley. I tried mulled wine for the first time and, considering that I am usually not a huge fan of red wine, it was surprisingly tasty! Fairly dry, but the spices and the heat were definitely nice on a cold winter evening. We also tried the potato spirals, which were quite yummy.

Trying Mulled Wine
Trying Mulled Wine

After our snack, we hung out by one of the bonfires and listened to some good jazz music while we waited for the fireworks. The fireworks were launched off of the city hall building. There was a good view from basically anywhere in the Octagon and it was a surprisingly impressive fireworks display.

Fireworks over the Octagon
Fireworks over the Octagon

After the fireworks, Andrew and I enjoyed the music and bonfires for a little while more before riding our bikes back to the campervan. It was a very enjoyable evening and I would love to see more done with it in future years. The carnival is run by a not-for-profit organization and has been slowly growing since it started a few years ago. It is part of Matariki, the celebration of the Maori New Year and a celebration of the longest night of the year.

If you go to the Midwinter Carnival

  • Arrive early. The festival is quite busy and there is a fair bit to see and do.
  • Park at least a few blocks from the Octagon and be prepared to walk in. The streets were quite busy and crowded after the fireworks
  • Dress warmly. Although New Zealand winters are not cold compared to Canadian winters, it is a damp cold that penetrates clothing and leaves you shivering even if it is still 10C. This is especially true if there is a strong Southerly blowing as this air comes right from Antarctica…brrr!
  • Check the website for dates of the festival as it changes yearly. It is always around mid-June but the exact dates will vary. The lantern making workshops are in the three weekends leading up to the festival but spots fill up early.

How to Learn a Foreign Language Before You Arrive

Ah, language. The way that all people over the age of two communicate things as simple as hunger and as complex as love. It is also one of the largest obstacles that many people face while travelling to a foreign country and one of the top-ranked reasons (after finances) that stops people from taking that dream trip.

How to overcome this? Learn the local language of course!

Local Thai Village Stay
Local Thai Village Stay

While it is also a good idea to brush up on your charades so that you can mime to the shop-keeper your need for deodorant, learning the local language can lead to less embarrassment in the long run. Yes, that did happen to me.

Of all the things to forget on a trip to Thailand, I forgot me deodorant. I was directed by the friendly staff at the front desk to a local pharmacy that carried such items, but after about 20 minutes of searching the shelves, I still hadn’t located the way to a less smelly me. I little bit of charade playing later, I was directed to a shelf containing small glass bottles of liquid deodorant…no wonder I couldn’t find what I was looking for!

Thankfully, In our age of technology, learning a foreign language has never been easier. Apps, programs, and other devices make it simple, although they do all take time. It is best to start at least three months prior to your trip for best results, although longer is better.

Language Essentials

Talking with an Elephant Trainer
Talking with an Elephant Trainer

But I leave in a week! I can’t possibly learn a foreign language in a week! No, you probably can’t. Focus on the basics! Here is a list of ten essential words to make sure that you know. They are listed in approximate order of importance, so start at the top and work your way down. Use Google Translate to look up the words in your desired language.

  1. No
  2. Yes
  3. Toilet
  4. Help
  5. Please
  6. Thank you
  7. Where?
  8. More
  9. When?
  10. How Much? (ok, technically two words here.)

If you have extra time, learn how to count to 10 as well. This is particularly useful in a country where bartering is standard practice, although you can also just pull out your phone, open the calculator app, and type a price onto it. Most shop owners will understand the numbers.

Official Courses

Check your local university or college for local language courses. Many universities offer evening and weekend classes. Some even offer free sessions where you can help someone learn English while they help you learn their local language.

Web Courses, Apps, and Programs

Explore Machu Picchu
Explore Machu Picchu

There are literally dozens of programs available to help you learn any number of new languages, including Klingon. No, I’m not joking. You can take a course in Klingon if you want. Not the most practical, but it could be fun!

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is a useful but extremely expensive way to learn a new language. Each course will run approximately $250. It does give you access to video chat with native speakers of the language, voice recognition, and a gradually progressive program that builds upon your knowledge each lesson.

The price tag is a little bit detrimental for casual learners, however. I have used demo versions of the app and it is quite effective. This would be the perfect solution for someone who wants to understand the culture, language foibles (is it a cart, a trolley, a stroller, or a pram? That’s just English!), and wants to become fully fluent in their desired language. Rosetta stone offers users a complete understanding of grammatical constructs, instead of simply trying to memorize all of the different verb endings for the words you would like to use.

Duolingo

Perhaps the most popular program, Duolingo is completely free to use. While you aren’t likely to become completely fluent in your desired language through using this program, it is sufficient to learn the basics to get you through a trip and enjoy a few conversations with the locals.

I used Duolingo to learn some Spanish prior to our Peru trip and after about a month my Spanish was sufficient for the most basic conversations. I did occasionally misunderstand what I was being asked and made the occasional mistake, but I could have simple conversations.

The early stages of learning here are appropriate for conversations with toddlers.

“This is water.”

“I have bread.”

The complexity does progress until you are speaking in full sentences and able to express more complex ideas.

Language Zen

This is the newbie on the market. Seeking to strike a balance between Rosetta Stone and Duolingo, LanguageZen claims to be faster than both. Having experimented with the program for the past few weeks, I certainly seem to be progressing faster (for all that I continue to hate verbs).

Currently offering only Spanish, they are soon expanding to other languages. They offer learning through music and progressive lessons, with hints and voice recognition available.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Experiencing Local Culture in Peru
Experiencing Local Culture in Peru

There are several ways that you can practice a language, keep it fresh in your mind, or simply get used of hearing sounds that are different from what you are accustomed to.

  1. Listen to music
  2. Switch your Netflix or DVD to a different language and turn on subtitles
  3. Use web-streaming to watch news or TV in the local language at your destination
  4. Listen to streaming radio
  5. Find a local and have a chat!

Make sure that you set aside some time each day to practice. 5 minutes a day will keep newly learned words fresh in your mind, although a minimum of 10-15 minutes each day is recommended.

Moeraki Boulders

I love rocks. Many of my friends and family also love rocks and I frequently get asked to bring rocks back from trips to add to their collections. So of course when I saw a tourist location named Moeraki Boulders, I simply had to visit! Thankfully Andrew is willing to listen when I ask him to randomly turn off the highway while we are driving because I saw something cool.

Shorebirds
Shorebirds

Partway between Dunedin and Oamaru is part of the Vanished World Trail, which features interesting geological features of North Otago. Andrew and I intend to explore the entire trail at some point, but thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon visit and picnic at the Moeraki boulders site.

Like a giant split Geode
Like a giant split Geode

The Moeraki boulders are giant spherical rocks that measure more than 1 meter across. They were formed approximately 55 million years ago when mud, pebbles, and shells were deposited on the sea floor and gradually buried. Lime was deposited around the shell of the pebble, eventually creating the large spherical concretions.

Visiting Moeraki Boulders
Visiting Moeraki Boulders

Some split open while buried,  which allowed them to form bright yellow crystals, also from lime buildup. As time went by, cliffs formed due to tectonic activity, lifting the boulders from the sea. As more time passed, wind, rain, and the ocean eroded the cliffs, revealing the limestone boulders encased within.

Like a giant lost his marbles
Like a giant lost his marbles

It is a little bit of a walk down the beach from the carpark to the boulders, although there is also a paid carpark and cafe that is a little bit closer. The boulders and the beach access way are only available near low-tide. Within 2 hours on either side of low tide is generally best for viewing the Moeraki boulders. If you are worried about not finding them on the beach…don’t be. They are huge!

Lime Crystals
Lime Crystals

I really had no idea what to expect. I was thinking small-ish round boulders sitting on a beach, but it was more like gigantic geodes. The rocks are extremely slippery, so make sure to pick a dry one and be very careful if you decide to climb upon the boulders. Andrew, of course, was running along the tops of them and it is only thanks to his remarkable balance that bailing off of the rocks resulted in only a tumble down the beach.

Atop the boulders
Atop the boulders

It was a great spot for a picnic and some wildlife viewing as well. Apparently, it is also a good place to pick up hitchikers! We were approached by an extremely nice Japanese lady and asked if we could give her a ride to wherever we were going. We hit it off with her and actually ended up spending the next two days travelling together, visiting penguins, driving back to Oamaru for the night, and then following her guidebook to Dunedin. Her guidebook took us to the world’s steepest residential street and a few good lookouts of Dunedin that weren’t listed in our guidebook so it ended up being mutually beneficial for all of us. Plus, it’s great to make new travel friends!

There really isn’t much else to say about the boulders other than they are cool and you should drop by! Oh, and there’s a few good geocaches in the area.

Oamaru Steampunk HQ

In my last post I mentioned Oamaru, a great little town on the south island of New Zealand. Steeped in Victorian history with more than 70 historically significant buildings built in the Victorian style, it is possible to forget that we are living in the 21st century and instead step back into a different era.

Of course, for geeks, it is obviously necessary to combine the classic feel of the Victorian era with some high end steam-based technology. What better place than Oamaru, then, to have a steampunk museum?

In front of the Steampunk HQ museum
In front of the Steampunk HQ museum

Andrew and I had the opportunity to visit while we were visiting Oamaru for the second time (yes, we ended up criss-crossing part of the south island after visiting the Moeraki boulders because we didn’t feel like the drive to Dunedin that day).

What is steampunk?

Exploring the steampunk Train
Exploring the steampunk Train

Steampunk officially started in the early 1970’s, although its inspiration comes from well-known authors such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. It is a genre of science fiction that incorporates technology and designs inspired by 19th century Victorian styles with industrial steam-powered machinery.

A relatively new genre of science fiction when compared with the classics of robots and alien planets, it has nevertheless developed a popular fan following that has started to enter into more mainstream geekdom. Many fan conventions now include jewellery, decorations, and people dressed up in steampunk fashion, which lends itself well to home-made costume.

Steampunk Crab
Steampunk Crab

Perhaps the best known example of steampunk is the extremely popular science fiction show Firefly, which was unfortunately cancelled after just one season but had gained enough of a following that fan rallying brought about the creation of a movie to tie up loose ends. If you haven’t watched Firefly yet, what are you doing still reading this blog? Please go watch Firefly and return when you are done.

Oamaru Steampunk HQ

Andrew taking a ride
Andrew taking a ride

Oamaru Steampunk HQ  is a small eclectic museum that is difficult to miss when driving through Oamaru. This probably has something to do with the gigantic steam engine with awesome funky tech that sits outside the building. For a small donation it is possible to turn the engine on for a short time, which of course draws more people into the area.

The Metagalactic Pipe Organ
The Metagalactic Pipe Organ

The museum offers a quirky mixture of viewing and experiences. The Portal, in particular, is a somewhat surreal experience that is not to be missed. The strange sounds piano and flickering lights lend themselves to the general atmosphere as you view the strange and bizarre world that is steampunk.

Andrew and I spent a lot of time playing with the Metagalactic Pipe Organ, which provides endless opportunities for combining sounds from assorted different eras. I love that they encourage people to touch, play, and interact, which to me is always more interesting than simply looking.

Enter...the Portal
Enter…the Portal

There are several high-end and interesting sculptures, displays, and artwork in the museum. From the lonely emperor to the guardian of astraea, there is something interesting around every corner. I liked looking at the Doomsday clock II, which was apparently constructed by two mysterious engineers who enjoy creating steampunk engines that run autonomously.

The HMS Hunter Cerberus was originally constructed by WETA workshops in Wellington for the movie Master and Commander; it was modified for the Steampunk HQ and then donated after the movie had finished filming. The level of detail was amazing!

It also has a lot of potential to expand further with several works in progress displayed as well. It is a somewhat immersive experience that Andrew and I both thoroughly enjoyed.

They also have Pedal Punk cycle hire, which is a great way to explore the rest of Victorian Oamaru and the harbour area. steampunk themed cycles can be rented and offer both two and four seater options for any family. Andrew and I debated hiring the cycles, but we had already wandered most of the nearby area so opted not to. They certainly looked like fun though!

The Cerberus
The Cerberus

If You Go

The museum is open from 10am to 5pm daily.

Admission is as follows:

$10 per adult

$2 per child

$20 per family

Contact them via their website.