Proud to feature again, high in most welcoming town list

In the face of yet another year of the global pandemic, Oamaru’s charm has continued to shine through.

For the second year in a row, the North Otago town has been named among the top 10 most welcoming towns in New Zealand.

On’s list of most welcoming towns, as part of the website’s annual guest review awards, Oamaru claimed the No3 spot this year. Hokitika was named most welcoming town, the title Oamaru held last year, and Lake Tekapo was No2.

Naturally, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the recognition for Oamaru did not come as a surprise.

The town had always prided itself on its welcoming reputation and it was special that had been recognised at a national level, Mr Kircher said.

"It’s always nice to feature in these lists," he said.

"The town is often quite a good surprise to [travellers], just what we have and how much we have here and obviously a lot of great people who are making them feel welcome."

To be considered for the top 10 most welcoming towns in New Zealand, destinations had to have at least 50 eligible accommodations on, and were sorted by the highest share of winners per destination. also presents traveller review awards to accommodation providers, and Oasis on Orwell, owned by Dave and Liz Clare, received one for the third year in a row.

Mr and Mrs Clare started running the Oamaru bed and breakfast more than 10 years ago, after moving to North Otago from Auckland. Mr Clare said they did not like to make a fuss about their awards — it was just "a South Island thing" — and he instead heaped praise on Oamaru overall for retaining its top five status.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Margaret Munro said the recognition was a testament to the hard work of tourism operators in Oamaru, and reflected the quality of hospitality offered as a district.

It was also another coup for Oamaru, after The Royal Treatment, in which the North Otago town features, was announced as the most watched movie on Netflix around the globe last week.

"It all helps," Mrs Munro said.

"It’s that sort of more national-wide coverage that we need to help the Waitaki and this region become a better known name as a destination in New Zealand."

Top 10 most welcoming towns in NZ

1 Hokitika
2 Lake Tekapo
3 Oamaru
4 Whanganui
5 Cambridge
6 Picton
7 Invercargill
8 Martinborough
9 Kerikeri
10 Palmerston North


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