About Oamaru

Māori and European Settlement

Historic Oamaru

Oamaru has a long history of human habitation, from the original moa hunting inhabitants to the European colonists who arrived in the Nineteenth century.

The name Oamaru is a Māori word meaning Place of Maru. Who is Maru? That's something that's been lost in the mists of time.

The Oamaru area is archaeologically rich, with Māori settlements dating back to 1100 AD. Captain Cook visited in 1770, and European colonists arrived in the 1850s. The town grew over the years, becoming a major port in the area and the service centre for the area.

By the numbers

Oamaru Stats


Town Population


Town Area (sq. km)


Population density per square km

Oamaru Trivia

Word of Scott's Demise

News of the fate of Robert Scott's Antarctic expedition (all five members of the expedition died on their way back from the South Pole) came from a telegram sent from Oamaru in February of 1913.

Netflix Setting

If you've seen the Netflix movies The Power of the Dog or The Royal Treatment, you've seen a bit of Oamaru. They were filmed on Tyne and Harbour Street, in Oamaru's Victorian precinct.

Janet Frame, the famed Kiwi author, set many of her early works in Oamaru, her home town.

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