Steampunk HQ

Try out interactive displays, marvel at intricate creations, get lost in a light show or just have some bizarre fun at this art gallery with a difference.

Steampunk HQ is an unusual art gallery in the heritage center of Oamaru, on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Both historic and futuristic, industrial and artistic, this interactive gallery celebrates a theme that could be described as steam-powered neo-Victorian industrial, with a large slice of fun.

Steampunk is a genre of science fiction that always features steam-powered technology and more often than not is set in an imaginary, futuristic version of 19th-century Victorian England.

Before entering, admire the imposing Victorian building from 1883 that houses the gallery. Once 5 floors high, 2 floors were taken down after a spectacular fire in the 1920s. Check out the Gothic-looking steam engine that greets you outside. Put a coin in the box to get it lighting up and watch the engine breathe fire.

Enter the gallery and immerse yourself in rooms full of strange machines and contraptions. A jumble of past and future, the installations resemble the science-fiction musings of a mad professor. Sound and light enhance the experience as you test the interactive displays and admire the creations.

Step into the Infinity Portal, a platform in a small mirrored room full of neon lights. Be mesmerized as the light and sound display take over and transmit you to another world.

Head out into the backyard, which doubles as the workshop for future projects. Imagine what the end result of the projects will be and play with the random bits and pieces lying about. Glance up to see a shark-mouthed blimp, a zeppelin-like contraption, dangling above.

Purchase a cap, T-shirt or a “beanie” (wooly hat) as a memento of your visit. All come emblazoned with with the goggle-wearing, grinning skull that is the Steampunk HQ logo. Visit in summer to also catch the 4-day Steampunk NZ Festival, a marvelous spectacle.

Steampunk HQ is centrally located in Oamaru and is easy to reach on foot or by car. Free parking lots are provided and free street parking is available in the area too. The gallery is open daily, even during public holidays. An entrance fee applies and families with children enjoy a discount.