Erin writes: Last September was my little girl’s 5th birthday and her father came to NZ to celebrate it with her. We took her for a tour of South Island and Oamaru was one of the stops. Not only was the town lovely but the people too. It was certainly comforting for we had earlier experienced some “racist” looks and comments at a much smaller town when we made an emergency stop for my little girl who was throwing up in the car. I won’t dwell much on this ugly incident because I don’t think it will do anyone any good except to borrow Bob Parker’s (Mayor of Christchurch) words: mindless people.
Our arrival in Oamaru was greeted by a drizzle and dark skies (almost 7pm) and one of our car wheels accidentally got stuck in a small drain when we were driving around searching for the backpacker’s that was so highly recommended by some Malaysians we had earlier met in Queenstown. To cut the story short, a couple in their 20s were some 20 feet away and walking towards our direction. As they got nearer, they saw our predicament and the guy immediately walked over and helped my husband lift the wheel while I reversed the car. You can imagine our relief. They walked over to help even without us asking.
We finally found Swaggers Backpackers and true enough, it was lovely. Agra was not only a charming host but also very trusting and motherly. She even took the effort to accompany us on that dark night out to see the famous Oamaru penguins. My daughter was so delighted watching the little penguins walking all over the place.
The next morning, after checking out, we walked around town and saw many friendly smiling faces. Then we went to McDonalds. The kids area was empty except for a couple with their little girl. Not only did they smile at us, but we ended up chatting for a while.
All in all, Oamaru left us feeling much welcomed and I would certainly go back and visit again. South Island has always been stereotyped as “more racist” by many of my Asian friends but I can tell you, we did not feel that at all in Oamaru.