Clay Cliffs at Omarama

Clay Cliffs which are visible from the main highway which is a few kilometers away  – Click to embiggen

On my trip to Queenstown last year I made a special stop on the way home to the famous Clay Cliffs in Omarama.  They are so big you can see them from the highway which is a few kilometers away and they are quite spectacular even at that distance.

It was a lot further to get to them than I expected, as you have to go across the basin and south a bit til you hit a farm gate.  These are on private land but the farmer allows access (he has a collection box as well).  The cliffs are formed from water shaping the clay and as the road started to climb up a bit you could see evidence of storm runoff that had made some rather scary pot holes, but the trusty Toyota managed to shimmy through around the edges safely 🙂

View of the path up showing mountains to the south – click to embiggen

There is a decent sized carpark and a sign that says 4WD only beyond this point.  When I got there an idiot with a Suzuki had decided that even tho there was a large and deep gully, he was going to cross it.  Apparently he had, but got stuck getting back and a crowd had formed, watching his mates chuck stones in under the wheel that was spinning in mid air. Making sure I had a safe path I jumped my way across the bits of gully til I got to the path and climbed up til I was greeted with the view above which was just stunning.

I kept walking up the path but got distracted by a big clump of wild rosehips and spent some time trying to capture them in the foreground of the cliffs.

Rosehips in the foreground and the lovely textures of the cliffs – click to embiggen

It was a surprisingly hot day and I had to be in CHCH by a certain time to collect the cat from the cattery so didn’t stay for long.  You can walk right up and into some paths in the cliffs, it feels a lot like a scene from LOTR I have been told.  Will go back again when I have more time and try to climb up to the top if it is possible 🙂

On the way back down to the carpack I had a completely different image presented to me, the flat plain of the basin with the hills on the other side all snow capped and stunning blue sky

Omarama Basin – click to embiggen

It gets really hot here in summer, in fact it is the gliding capital of the country, as the wide flat plain generates lots of thermals and they have gliding competitions and you can be taken up for a ride.  I imagine the view from the sky is amazing!


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
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5 Responses to Clay Cliffs at Omarama

  1. Carolyn Collins says:

    Wanted to go up there last month but glad we didn’t if the road is so rough. Thanks for sharing these, almost feel that I did go. Always have to be some idiots, don’t there?

  2. Beautiful images of an amazing landscape 🙂

  3. Jieqi says:

    Hi! How long is the car ride from the entrance to the clay cliff carpark area? Its so beautiful I would like to visit during my trip in July

    • lensaddiction says:

      Ride from the farm entrance to the carpark only took 5-10 minutes (you have to go through a second farm gate)

      The drive from the main road to the farm gate was a lot longer than I expected, probably half an hour each way. Allow half a day for the visit there so you can properly walk in and around I would say.

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