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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!
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!
UPDATE: Please note, due to a flood in the area the clay cliffs are currently closed as the road undergoes repairs. A date for reopening is currently unavailable.
Omarama Clay Cliffs FAQ
What are the Omarama Clay Cliffs?
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! They remind me of a larger version of the Pinnacles near Perth, Australia!
The clay cliffs near Omarama are a very unique attraction and one I hadn’t seen anywhere else during my time living in Queenstown.
Realated Read: The Hooker Valley Track is a easy New Zealand hike with spectacular views.
Omarama Clay Cliffs Map
Getting to the Omarama Clay Cliffs
The Omarama Clay Cliffs are located only 10km (6.2 miles) 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 (6.2 miles) drive that takes around 30 minutes.
Omarama Clay Cliffs Entrance Fee
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.
Related Read: Check out all the best stops to make on a road trip along the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
Things to do at the Omarama Clay Cliffs
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.
Related Read: Located near Queenstown you can hike the impressive Roy’s Peak at sunrise.
When Should You Visit the Omarama Clay Cliffs?
Spring, summer, and fall are fine to visit, however, as mentioned above, if you visit during springtime you’ll have an added bonus to spot some colorful Lupins.
In winter, the trail may become a bit nasty and can become slippery because of the rocks so proper hiking shoes would be recommended.
One thing to note is the popularity of this location. It has tendencies to be crowded so if you want a more private experience at the Omarama Clay Cliffs then come early in the day or later in the evening.
Where to Stay in Omarama
If you want to make Omarama a resting stop on your road trip or decide to take your time exploring the cliffs and some of the other nearby activities then there a few options in the small town of Omarama to pick from.
Omarama TOP10 Holiday Park – The TOP10 Holiday parks are a great affordable chain you’ll find throughout New Zealand. One thing guests seem to love is the warm and high pressured showers and cozy warm rooms and the on-site laundry room. The property is on a huge 10-acre property where you can grill or rent go-karts. Just a 5-minute walk to the Omarama hot tubs.
Sierra Motel and Apartments – Standard rooms are simple but comfortable and clean and they have even bigger one and two-bedroom apartments for groups and families. It is located right next to the golf course 10 minute walk from town.
BigSky Bed and Breakfast – The most high-end option in Omarama is BigSky B&B! It’s modern and clean in a quiet location. There is a communal garden and hammock and a tennis court. The breakfast is made fresh every morning.
Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand
The first step to planning your New Zealand road trip is choosing your set of wheels! Most people rent a campervan or motorhome to get around, but you can also just rent a normal car and stay in hotels (as opposed to camping.)
You can search for rental cars online here in advance to compare car models and prices.
You can also do this with motorhomes and campervans on a website called Motorhome Republic. It shows all of the available campervans and motorhomes for your specific New Zealand road trip dates. You can compare prices and company reviews here too!
JUCY is our personal favorite campervan rental company in NZ. We love JUCY because they have such a range of both cars and campervans available, so you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something to suit your budget and travel style.
We’ve actually secured an exclusive discount code for our readers with JUCY. Just click here to browse their availability and use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off! You must act quickly, though, as this code is only valid for bookings made before June 30, 2024, with travel dates before December 21, 2024!
Star RV is another company we personally recommend but specifically for motorhomes! They offer larger motorhomes (as opposed to budget campervans) at really reasonable rates.
Star RV has actually given us a discount code for our readers too! Use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off your motorhome rental! Note, this code is only valid for bookings made before June 21, 2024 with travel dates before Dec 21, 2024. Click here to browse availability, prices, and book with our discount code!
Thanks for reading!
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!