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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!

The Omarama Clay Cliffs, New Zealand

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 ours. 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 Omarama Clay Cliffs!

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 road leading to the cliffs
Once we saw this view we knew we had made the right decision!

What are the Omarama Clay Cliffs?

The Omarama Clay Cliffs are exactly what the name suggests. The 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 New Zealand.

Omarama Clay Cliffs are a really unique sight to see that most visitors unfortunately miss.
Looking up at these giants!

Getting to there

The Omarama Clay Cliffs are located only 10km from the town of Omarama on South Highway 8. The turnoff is just north of the town (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.

If this sounds a little confusing then visit the Omarama information center.

the omarama clay cliffs near lindis pass New Zealand
We did some exploring and found this awesome viewpoint!

Cost of the Clay Cliffs

Visiting the Omarama Clay Cliffs is in fact 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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Omarama Clay Cliffs New Zealand cost $5 per vehicle that is paid with an honestly box.
They’re not free but they’re totally worth it!

Things to do at the Omarama Clay Cliffs

Once you reach the 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 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 Clay Cliffs. There is a small river called the Ahuriri River that passes right by the cliffs and some other farm animals nearby.

Exploring the clay cliffs new zealand. There is a small walk to do at the clay cliffs and even some climbing to a viewpoint.
Entering the small gap in the cliffs at the end of the path

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.

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