March 9, Moeraki and Oamaru
About two years before I started my trip to Australia and New Zealand I had subscribed to various pages about the two countries on Facebook as well as watched several documentaries. Time and again the tourist posts would pop up and show the must-see things. Among those were the Moeraki boulders. Since they were on my way up the South Island anyway, of course I would see them.
I arrived at the parking lot around 10 in the morning. t turned out to be good time because it was too crowded yet. The early risers already returned from the beach and so I made my way down to look for the boulders.
What an interesting rock formation they are. They are round like big ball and some look like the shell of a tortoise. What also fascinates me is that you find this kind of rock only at this beach and only at this particular stretch. I'm not quite sure what the tide was at that time I was there but it was just right to see the boulders exposed on the beach. People took all kinds of photos and so did I. Of course a professional photographer would wait for the perfect light and even sunrise or sunset or whatever. I just took my camera and shot away. I tried to take some goofy photos as well by positioning myself under a boulder still half incorporated in the dunes. Turns out it's really difficult to that on your own with a timer but nowhere to see if your position is actually correct. Those were the cases for the delete button. But I saw the boulders, got some nice pics and what happy to have seen them.
After that little excursion I decided to have an early lunch and ordered some fish and chips at the restaurant on top. I had seated myself outside on the deck and was greeted by some seagulls. When the waitress delivered my food she told me the cutlery was inside at the bar. Seriously? Now I would have to get it myself and leave my food outside for the gulls to splurge at or take the food back inside and maybe lose my table to other tourists who were coming in? Funny! Well, I managed to shush the gulls away just enough to rush inside, grab a fork, and rush back to my table just in time to shoo away the gulls again. I earned my lunch.
I continued my drive and stopped in Oamaru. I keep being surprised by the look of many country towns in New Zealand (and Australia). They just look like US American Western towns with the shops lined on both sides of the main street. What is a bit different though is that many main streets here have a broad middle strip where cars can park. So the two driving directions are separated by the parking strip which is vey convenient really. Since there usually isn't much too much traffic anyway it's nice to be able to park the car on main street and then go to the shops you want to go.
Oamaru was very similar to that model only that you could see the (former) wealth of the town. It used to be an important port where lots of business was made. This is reflected in the architecture and buildings of the town. Unfortunately for you I didn't take any pictures but I'm sure you can find some when you google the town.
Oamaru is considered the centre of Steampunk. I didn't quite know what Steampunk was but when I saw the collection of things displayed in the museum I realised I knew the genre. Think of Journey to the Centre of Earth and the funky props they use in the film. Add more crazy sometimes creepiness to that you get the picture. When I got to the museum, Steampunk HQ, I talked to the girl who collected the entry fee. It was $10. I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend $10 on the museum but then decided to do it anyway since it was crazy special or special crazy thing. Then the surprised m and said she had a deal for me: She needed to go to the toilet and they didn't have one there so she needed to use the one across the street. She asked if I could cover for her and in return I could enter the museum for free. Heck yeah. I would have let her go anyway knowing how stupid it is when there is no one else to help you out when nature calls. She went to do her business and I did my job and even charged a couple their fee. I told them a bit where to go because I heard listened to what the girl had explained to visitors before. Fake it till you make it. When the girl returned I gave the money I had charged the couple and then took my free tour of the museum. Happy day. BTW, the fee would have been worth it, crazy cool stuff they had in there.
But this is not all that made this stop so interesting. It was also the chat I had with a guy at the Anglican church. I just went there because the building looked nice and I like churches. The guy was sitting outside on a bench and when I stepped into the building he followed me and asked if I wanted to know a little about the church and the area. Sure, why not. So he told me a few things he knew. It was funny because he admitted he wasn't really a fan of the Church anymore (he didn't like the preaching from the pulpit really) but he still went to mass and was a just volunteer and member of the congregation. It was sad because the number of people attending mass was shrinking constantly and no new younger members were joining. Writing about this visit I realise I have forgotten most of what he told me. Unfortunately because I enjoyed our chat even though he was sure he was boring me. But I remember that he said he used to be a music teacher and that towards the end of his teaching career he increasingly disliked his job. Teaching had become so difficult with less and less support from headmasters and more and more pressure from parents. Cases of falsely claimed sexual harassment were increasing and students more difficult to deal with in general. Teaching just hadn't been fun anymore. It's sad when you don't like doing your job anymore.
To end my visit to Oamaru I drove down to the harbour and took a look at the nicely preserved area. Truly a historic place - even from a European point of view 😉