Farming community of Oamaru attracts visitors from around the globe after community embraced subculture where wrought iron meets science fiction
The humble farming town of Oamaru, three hours south of Christchurch on New Zealands South Island, used to be known for its population of blue penguins and having the best-preserved collection of Victorian architecture in the country.
But that was before it became the worlds unlikely capital of steampunk, drawing enthusiasts from around to globe to what was once an economically depressed rural service centre wedged between the Kakanui mountain range and the Pacific Ocean.
Earlier this month Oamaru made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest gathering of steampunks in the world.
For the uninitiated, the term steampunk was coined in the 1980s and is based on imagining inventions the Victorians might have created for the modern world. The movement was kickstarted by science fiction novels and has branched out to incorporate art and fashion while spawning a well-established aesthetic, typified by embellished hats and goggles.
Iain Clark, who is widely credited with launching steampunk in Oamaru and likes to be known by the name Agent Darling, said the movement began to take hold in 2010. At the time many locals were suspicious of what they saw as a weird niche interest gaining traction in their otherwise ordinary town.