Neighborhood Travels

New Zealand Part 10: Steampunk HQ

The town of Oamaru was full of surprises.  Halley and I had no idea that this was the location of a place called Steampunk HQ, but once we heard about it, of course, we had to check it out.   This was especially simple since we were already in the area known as the Victorian Precinct, and the museum was right across the railroad tracks.  It’s located in a building that used to be a grain elevator; we couldn’t help but notice it. First, it was the only tall building on that corner and also there were a few outside indications which were hard to miss.


Steampunk HQ building in Oamaru
Steampunk HQ building in Oamaru

Unfamiliar with Steampunk?   I’ll quote the website for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences

Steampunk is modern technology—iPads, computers, robotics, air travel—powered by steam and set in the 1800’s.

This is as straightforward a definition as I can give you.  Think of it as a special meld of futuristic technology and Victoriana.  And Oamaru has a building dedicated to everything steampunk.

We paid our admission and entered.  Inside was a warren of the oddest things you’ll ever see.  All was covered in an eerie purple light which made it rather creepy and very difficult to photograph.  This baby carriage looks innocent, but the commonplace can turn sinister rather quickly.

Inside Steampunk HQ
Inside Steampunk HQ

Not everything was as gentle and sweet as the image above.  The area was filled with all kinds of gadgets and machines.  Old computer consoles were set before this row of chairs.  What happens to people who sit here and gaze into the screens?

Next! Please take a seat. Steampunk chairs.
Next! Please take a seat. Steampunk chairs.

In another room I discovered several masterful sculptures made out of various gears and spare parts.  These were done by an artist named Chris Meder who certainly had a talent for seeing the possibilities in old pieces of machinery.

Rooster sculpture by Chris Meder on display at Steampunk HQ
Rooster sculpture by Chris Meder on display at Steampunk HQ

Outside was a playground of machines, spaceships, tractors and make-believe contraptions.   Halley and I tried out several of them.  We climbed in the spaceship, road the train, and drove the tractor.  It was simply fantastic!

Steampunk Chopper
Steampunk Chopper built by Chris Meder

At first glance this motorcycle may seem weird but not too much out of the ordinary.  Just to put things in perspective I’m going to  include a photo taken by Halley.  Yes, there I am trying to see if I would be in the market for such a vehicle.

Chris Meder chopper at Steampunk HQ
I’m looking for a new set of wheels at Steampunk HQ    Photo by Halley Sanchez Boatman

Do you think it’s too large?  Perhaps I’ll wait for the subcompact.

Steampunk HQ was highly entertaining.  Whether young, or simply young at heart, every visitor was having a marvelous time.

Young children climbing on steampunk locomotive
Things are just meant to be climbed on at Steampunk HQ

I’ve only hinted at what’s on display here at Steampunk HQ.  As with any good museum there’s always plenty to see, explore, and experience.   Most of all, Steampunk HQ means brilliant design and some vivid creativity! So when you’re in Oamaru, please stop by.

Elizabeth Boatman

Traveler, explorer, memory maker and someone who's just downright curious about stuff. It's all about finding joy.

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