It is time… I haven’t written in over a year so it is time to put ink to paper again and what better way than combining two of my passions Steampunk and travel and with travel there are interiors, architecture and interesting people from all walks of life.

For those of you who know me well… you know that I have had a fascination with Steampunk for many years now and with costumes and dressing up for as long as I can remember. (Some of my family still chastise me for us being the only table dressed up in medieval attire for a play. But guess what? We had the most fun as no one knew who we were). I had considered going to the Steampunk Festival in Oamaru for several years now but it has always fallen through. This year I made it!

So traveling in my Steampunk travel attire, I made the long trek from Whanganui to Oamaru driving my car and not in an airship, (something I won’t do again). But the upside is the scenery in the South Island is breath taking and this trip was no exception, the weather was perfect and the scenery and light just magical. So that pretty much set the tone for an exciting week away of adventure.

I don’t think I have ever been to Oamaru before, but by-passed it on my way south, which has obviously been a mistake on my part.


Oamaru like many provincial towns throughout New Zealand has suffered badly with the decline in services and a shift to the larger cities and had to look at ‘reinventing’ themselves. And with that they have created a very successful Steampunk Community being dubbed the Steampunk Capital of New Zealand. (I am not going into how this was done nor when as there is so much written about it by the creators, I could not do it justice). But in a nutshell Oamaru is a port town and with port towns are old buildings, storage sheds, trading places fit for purpose the perfect setting for a Victorian/science fiction inspired community and event.

I stayed at the Criterion Hotel, built in 1877 to immerse myself in the history. It was surprisingly warm considering how old the building is, but that may have been the dense Oamaru stone structure that created the warmth. This area of Oamaru was like stepping back in time, as every turn I took and building I entered, people were dressed in Victorian or Steampunk attire and there was a buzz in the community. Even the town centre had shop windows dressed with some of the staff partaking in dressing for the occasion.

Some costumes were incredibly detailed and elaborate and clearly a lot of thought had gone into the creative process and the personas that were created. Others were simple, perhaps because they were just starting their Steampunk journey or because budget didn’t allow or maybe they just wanted to be a part of the creative energy that flowed, but whatever the reason everyone was enjoying the moment, the weekend, the adventure. That is what I love about Steampunk, the various communities around the country are varied in their outfits and the events they hold, but everyone is so welcoming, inviting each other to share with their individual communities and have fun. We are all at different stages, but we all share a passion for creativity on so many levels.


I loved wandering through the buildings in the port area. Many have been restored and re-purposed, as I suspect they may have been left empty for years like so many around the country. The majority of the buildings are constructed of a local stone which is a beautiful natural resource either rough cut or finished. It has a subtle grain running through it and is very warm in colour and to the touch. Many of the buildings have raw finished stone on the interior with solid native timbers and the combination is visually appealing and warm. I loved them and to top it off many of the buildings are filled with artisans, specialty shops or function rooms. A treasure trove for anyone keen on art and crafts and as I am always on the lookout for clients, I was in my element.

It was lovely to walk in the not too early morning or late afternoon as the sun was just bathing parts of the buildings. The air was crisp and clear and the glow created on these lovely buildings, highlighting architectural details was simply stunning.

Well done Oamaru for keeping your beautiful historical quarter alive for generations to enjoy and to the Creators of Steampunk for the vision to host such a great event and become the Steampunk Capital of New Zealand. Special thanks to Iain Clark and Helen Steampunk Jenson for you warmth and hospitality, you are truly the essence of Steampunk and of what communities used to be about, all-encompassing and welcoming.

Isn’t that what it is all about? Victorian Visionaries and looking toward the future, creating and sharing!

Terry Lobb Colour and Design Ltd – Interior Designer/Personal Stylist/Colour Consultant

If you would like to make an appointment for a consultation or have a query about product discussed you can contact me on 027 602 3298 or or like me on Facebook.

Winter has hit with vengeance after that fabulous summer we have had. But the rain was much needed in most areas so there will definitely be some smiling faces around.

While recently traveling through the upper part of the South Island from Christchurch and across the country to the West Coast then heading North to the Sounds we stopped to visit friends at Carters Beach. Carters Beach is out from Westport south of the Buller River and in all my trips (which are few) I had only ever passed through Westport in a frantic dash to catch the ferry home. So it was nice to visit somewhere I hadn’t been before, meet new people and I love our west coast beaches! They are often wild and rugged with their black sand and have a beauty all of their own, winter and summer.

Carters Beach is a great place to relax, play a round of golf, walk along the boardwalk to the Seal Colony, Denniston Incline and The Brakehead or simply use it as a base to get to other outdoor activities or stop over. Unfortunately for us we didn’t manage to do any of those things because not long after arriving the weather changed from brilliant sunshine to rain and before too long we couldn’t even see across the road.

We had dinner with Steve’s friends Erica and Chris Cooper who have spent the last few years building their two storied home and then the motel complex (Carters by the Sea) on the same section. A huge undertaking but the finished complex looks great. The property is situated on Marine Parade overlooking a wide grassy verge then the sea, a perfect location for a beach motel. The buildings are contemporary and have a lovely mix of the beach, relaxation and our lovely native bush. This I feel has been achieved by the colours and finishes they have used on the exterior and interior of the build.

The house is two storied, finished in white linear board, concrete block and flat paneled sheeting for a little bit of contrast. The building is simple with a mono pitch roof, clean lines, but by no means dominating the space. Reception is part of the house and easily visible for prospective customers to see. For privacy from people passing and customers the house is sounded by a concrete block fence to the front. It gives the feeling of a lovely private courtyard when in the house and a retreat from work. That is always hard to achieve when you live with your work.

The motel complex is across the charcoal tarmac driveway and this is a lovely contract from the house. Although it is finished in similar products the concrete block forms the structural walls of the two storied motel units with near black finished linear board on the front framing the joinery that leads onto a small balcony. It is nice to see the follow through of textures and finishes from private quarters to the business side.
There are a variety of rooms to choose from depending on your budget and the reason for your stay. Our room was lovely and gave me an instant feeling of a relaxed beach resort. It had a lovely warm feel about it which was nice given that we were on the West Coast and in black sand territory and by now it was raining heavily outside.

The interior of our room was light and fresh and consisted of a queen bed, glass topped desk a couple of lounge chairs and light finished timber bedside cabinets. It housed a compact kitchen, ideal for anyone staying over for a long weekend and not wanting to eat out and Ensuite finished in white and bleached timber cabinetry. The attention to detail in the finishes had been thought through carefully with the right balance of texture and gloss levels to give the room its warm comfortable feel. The walls were finished in a soft warm off white and so fresh after seeing so much off white cool greys in our décor for years. Soft taupe teamed with hints of watery blues and greens added to the beach theme.  The floor anchored the scheme and brought me back to the West Coast beach with an almost black plush carpet teamed with off white low sheen tiles throughout the wet areas.

The contrast in texture under my feet felt great. The less gloss you have and more texture will instantly give a scheme a warm feel. And the final touch and me being the tactile person that I am, the sheets were finished in a self-pattern stripe, very subtle but never the less it was there and a pleasant change from completely flat sheets.

Thank you Erica and Chris for making our stay memorable and well done on creating a lovely retreat for people to enjoy for many years to come!


I am available for speaking engagements for small groups or larger organizations and can be contacted below.

Terry Lobb Colour and Design Ltd – Interior Designer/Personal Stylist/Colour Consultant

If you would like to make an appointment for a consultation or have a query about product discussed you can contact me on 027 602 3298 or or like me on Facebook.