The Harbour & Tyne Historic Precinct is the original commercial area of Oamaru. Largely built in the period 1870s to 1890s, it remains today as New Zealand's most complete Victorian streetscape. The large and impressively decorated buildings were constructed of the locally quarried limestone.
Now 120 years later the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust is working to restore the Precinct. The current project is the Criterion Hotel which was closed in 1905 when prohibition was brought in. Work on the criterion will begin in February 1998 with completion scheduled for April 1998. This will involve the full restoration of the hotel; to a working Victorian style pub.
While the area sometimes gives the impression of being deserted several small businesses operate in the area which complement the Victorian Town Work theme. These include a bookbinder, a book shop, an auto collection, cafes, restaurants, three antique shops and a regular Sunday market. A vintage steam train gives rides from the precinct down to the nearby Penguin Colony operates in the weekends and holidays.