Who would have thought Steampunk HQ would be in a little seaside town of Oamaru in New Zealand?
I would have assumed it been in London. Well, you know what? It makes sense.
New Zealand is so far away from everything that it has very limited imports which in turn has encouraged a ‘fix it” culture rather than a throwaway one.
So nearly everything is old and looks like it’s from the 1800’s anyway!
Never heard of Steampunk?
Well, essentially it’s a genre of science-fiction. However, instead of all the sleek looking futuristic looking tech, everything is quite old fashioned based on the aesthetic of 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Hence the name. Just imagine if we hadn’t phased out steam power but advanced it.
What’s Steampunk HQ then?
It’s an art gallery/museum/playground dedicated to the steampunk aesthetic! Inside is dark and perhaps a little bit scary, I wouldn’t recommenend it for little kids. It’s almost reflective of a dystopian future. Mad Max style stuff, scary masks and metal skeletons.
A post-apocalyptic world perhaps? All of the artworks/sculptures are made by various artists with found objects or basically junk and you can interact with many of them as do some pretty cool stuff.
It truly is an experience as many people wandering around seemed too wary to fully interactive with everything, but I’d recommend you explore as much as possible to get the full experience. It’s not brilliantly signposted so you have to make your own way.
A father told his boy “not to go through that door” because he wasn’t sure it was alllowed so I told him it was actually the door to the junkyard outside.
Not like it’s massive, it’s two main rooms with two hidden rooms and a large junkyard outside.
One of the ‘hidden’ rooms, The Portal, is a fantastic spectacle of light, sound and illusion. We went in three times! I almost wished I did drugs because that was trippy as hell! It was fantastic.
Again small children may be a little scared. We watched as two parents went into The Portal but their daughter was too scared and waited outside, we thought she was just too nervous so we showed her the video of what was inside and she went in. It’s the not knowing.
Where is this HQ then?
Oamaru, South Island, New Zealand.
About a 3-hour drive south from Christchurch. On the East Coast.
We picked up a hitchhiker so it took us a little bit longer (which was a hilarious experience and I MUST write a post about at some point).
Oamaru has white-washed buildings and warehouses in The Historic Precinct and lovely Victorian style architecture. This only adds to how popular the steampunk culture has become here.
The streets are cobblestone and reminiscent of old England. The shops and stores really have a lot of design and thought put into them. The local children’s park is even steampunk themed and it really is just a lovely place.
It seems to be a flourishing place for artists, especially sculptors and although at times it feels a tad like the Cotswolds crowd and Wilderness festival folk, it isn’t pretentious.
If you’re into Steampunk and planning a visit here, bring lots of cash with you. It’s not exactly cheap and you WILL want everything!
Steampunk HQ Info:
Location: 1 Itchen St, Oamaru, New Zealand
Hours: Daily 10 am – 5 pm
Price: Adults $10
Here’s some steampunk stuff to get you in the mood….