Omarama Clay Cliffs – Your Complete Guide!

Clay Cliffs New Zealand

The Omarama Clay Cliffs are a great sight to see just outside of Lake Pukaki. I visited the other day and was amazed at cool they were, so in this blog, I will give you all the information you need to visit them for yourself!


While on our New Zealand road trip from Lake Tekapo back to Queenstown we made an effort to stop at as many places we had time for.

As we passed Lake Pukaki we had already stopped at so many amazing places that time had slipped away from us. However, soon after deciding we really need to get a move on we passed the sign for the Omarama Clay Cliffs.

We hadn’t heard of the Omarama Clay Cliffs and as such almost didn’t bother turning back to visit them. However, as we drove further away from the turnoff that hunger for adventure took over and we immediately turned the car around and headed for the turnoff!

The decision to visit the Omarama Clay Cliffs was one we certainly didn’t regret and something we want others not to either.

So in this post, I will give you all the info you need to visit the Omarama Clay Cliffs and also share some of the amazing photos we got to help make the decision to visit that much easier!

The Omarama Clay Cliffs are an awesome stop on a road trip from Christchurch to Queenstown. Our blog tells you other nearby stops on this route!


What are the Omarama Clay Cliffs?

Looking up at th omarama Clay Cliffs from the carpark
The first view we got of the Omarma Clay Cliffs got me excited

The Omarama Clay Cliffs are exactly what the name suggests. These tall, clay cliffs were formed about a 1 to 2 million years ago, and, as I found out, that actually makes them rather young!

The Clay Cliffs are made from many layers of gravel and silt and were formed by rivers that flowed from large, ancient glaciers in the area.

Being clay, the cliffs are more easily subject to erosion. This erosion has formed tall pinnacles that tower some 30 meters into the air and have made the site a spectacular place to visit!

The clay cliffs near Omarama are a very unique attraction and one I hadn’t seen anywhere else during my time living in Queenstown.

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Getting to the Omarama Clay Cliffs

View of the Omarama Clay Cliffs

The Omarama Clay Cliffs are located only 10km from the town of Omarama on South Highway 8. The turnoff to the Omarama Clay Cliffs is just north of Omarama (heading towards Lake Pukaki and Mount Cook National Park) and is called Quailburn Road.

Once you turn off the highway and onto Quailburn Road you must continue straight until you reach Henburn Road. The turnoff is signposted, however, the sign is small and easy to miss.

Once you turn onto Henburn Road, you will be driving on an unsealed gravel road. The road is in good enough condition for all vehicles but other cars driving in the other direction can flick rocks up so it’s important to drive slow. You must follow this road it until you see a large sign pointing you to the Omarama Clay Cliffs.

From the turnoff on South Highway 8, the Clay Cliffs are a 10km drive that takes around 30 minutes.


Omarama Clay Cliffs Entrance Fee

Omarama Clay Cliffs, New Zealand
Omarama Clay Cliffs, New Zealand

Visiting the Omarama Clay Cliffs is not free, however, it’s not expensive either. At the last turn off, there is a large sign that dictates the price depending on your vehicle. When we visited it was $5 for a car and $15 for a bus. Payment is made via an honesty box before you pass a small gate.

For that reason having some change on you is a great idea as there is no one there to give you change. The money from the payment goes towards maintaining the road that leads to the cliffs. This road is private and is graded and fixed by the farmer who owns the land.

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Things to do at the Omarama Clay Cliffs

Walking around the Omarama Clay Cliffs, New Zealand
Walking around the Omarama Clay Cliffs, New Zealand

Once you reach the Omarama Clay Cliffs there is a short path that leads up to them. At the end of this path, you can then venture around as you please.

There is actually a small opening near the path that leads you to a large open area where the cliffs completely surround you. I really suggest making it to this part and doing some extra exploring!

If you’re lucky enough to be in New Zealand during the Lupin flowering season then you will be able to find some Lupins at the cliffs too. The Lupin season begins in Mid November and runs until February!

Other than enjoying their beauty, there isn’t much else to do at the Omarama Clay Cliffs. There is a small river called the Ahuriri River that passes right by the cliffs and some other farm animals nearby.

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Before you go…

Walking to the Omarama Clay Cliffs

In my honest opinion, a visit to the Omarama Clay Cliffs is a great place to stop and well worth the short detour. I was amazed I hadn’t heard of them before, and on my visit, we were the only people there!

We personally love visiting places that aren’t overcrowded with people and the clay cliffs were just that. The Omarama Clay Cliffs a great “of the beaten track” experience in New Zealand that is truly unique.

If you found this post helpful then be sure to check out all our other New Zealand guides here or some related articles below!

  • Lindis Pass Lookout – This guide tells you where to get the best views of Lindis pass by hiking a little off the beaten path!

-Daniel

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