Omarama - South Island - New Zealand

"place of light"

 Welcome to Omarama and the Upper Waitaki reigon where you will find a wide range of attractions and activities to enjoy and explore! There is something for everyone in Omarama, with gliding in summer and snowfields in winter, relaxing at the local Spa in a HOT/Cool outdoor tub, golf, fishing, tramping, hunting, see a sheep shearing demonstration and of course our local vineyard where you can sample local wines and catch and eat your own salmon. There are some great specialty shops and good cafes' too.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail passes through Omarama, such a great way to appreciate the scenery - at your own pace in the sunshine. We recommend you visit the famous Omarama Clay Cliffs, don't forget to take your camera and some sturdy walking boots. Below is a more extensive list of what is available in and around Omarama.

Omarama offers a variety of adventures and experiences:

CAFÉ’S & RESTAURANTS - See our website www.discoveromarama.co.nz for more details.

CYCLE HIRE - Enjoy cycling a section of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, visit the Infomation Centre for fully equipped, touring bikes and maps. $28/half day or $40/full day.

FISHING – Tackle shops are located at Sierra Motels and Challenge.

FOOD CENTRE - 4 Square Discounter with Lotto and a Postal Agency also.

FUEL STATIONS - Mobil and Challenge.

GLIDING - Trial Flights with www.glideomarama.com.

GOLF - 9 hole golf course, $15 per person. Club Day is on Saturday and Twilight Golf is held on a Wednesday evening during summer. There are also clubs for hire. Contact Jim 021 357 992 or Russell 021 221 5615.

HOT TUBS – Hot or Cool – fresh mountain water, no chemicals, soak in the view in your own private tub!

HOTELS – MOTELS – BACKPACKERS – BED & BREAKFAST OR HOMESTAY OPTIONS – Several to choose from, plus our local holiday park right in town.

HUNTING – Hunting Guides are available, please enquire at the Infomation Centre.

OMARAMA RODEO – December 28th each year at Ben Omar Station.

RETAIL SHOPPING – Bargain Hunting, NZ Merino, Country Clothing, Souvenirs, Antiques & Collectables, Blokes Shed and an Auto Museum!

VINEYARD – Check out Ladybird Hill www.ladybirdhill.co.nz.

Omarama is a very warm and sunny place in summer. It's no wonder that the name Omarama in the Māori language means "place of light".

Free to do

A2O – ALPS TO OCEAN CYCLE TRAIL – base yourself at Omarama or stay overnight on your way through, the full trail is from Aoraki/Mt Cook to Oamaru and continues down the Waitaki Valley at the Omarama junction.

AHURIRI RIVER – picnic and swim in the pools created in our ever changing braided river just by the SH8 bridge, 2km north of town –a DoC toilet is provided.

AIRFIELD and PLANE SPOTTING – Daily glider launches, weather permitting plus the Regional Champs are held in November and the Nationals bi-annually in January.

AORAKI/MOUNT COOK – 1 hour’s drive north of Omarama – numerous walks, DOC headquarters and Info centre at Mt Cook Village – plus the Sir Ed Hillary Museum and very extensive Mt Cook exhibits.

BENMORE WALKWAY – 1 HOUR WALK – extensive views of upper MacKenzie Basin from above Benmore Dam. This walk leaves from Benmore Dam (turnoff Otematata 15 minutes east of Omarama)

BIKE PUMP TRACK – for cyclists - also next to the Community Hall, challenge yourself on a national-standard pump track.

BIRD WATCHING – Ahuriri River Bed and beyond – view the extensive bird life on the river flats.

CLAY CLIFFS – spectacular pinnacles formed from erosion on the Ostler fault line, parking at site with areas to climb or walk.The turn off is 4km north of Omarama on SH8 and is signposted - $5 donation per car & $20 per bus – pay at the Info Centre first or on your return.

COMMUNITY PICNIC AREA – seats and tables by the stream – the entrance is opposite the Mobil Service Station, take the gravel walkway through a gate to the river. Please leave the gate closed.

CONSERVATION PARKS – AHURIRI, RUATANIWHA, OTEAKE QUAILBURN, OHAU – a large selection of walks, tramps and hiking areas plus mountain bike tracks etc. too extensive to list here. Plus 4-WHEEL DRIVING - Please call at the local Information Centre, DOC office or check online for more information:   www.doc.govt.nz.

DoC CAMPING is also available at the river. A donation is required, you must be self-contained and/or use the DoC toilet provided, take all rubbish with you (bins are located in the town centre). Dogs are permitted but they must be under control – please ensure you respect others and the natural wildlife.

FISHING – Extensive fishing opportunities for fly fishing, dry fly casting, nymphing, trolling. Fishing guides are also available – enquire at the Info Centre or Tackle Shop at Sierra Motels.

KIDZONE - Playground – 300m east of the shops on SH83 next to the Community Hall.

SAILORS CUTTING & LAKE BENMORE picnic areas - Popular Boat Harbour with a jetty, great for bathing or water sports. You could take the bikes on the A2O trail from Omarama - a gentle, short section. Toilets are available at Sailors Cutting & Pumpkin Point (about 10 minutes east of Omarama).

SALMON FARM - (about 15 minutes north of Omarama).  You can feed the fish for free or purchase sashimi or whole/filleted salmon.

VINEYARD WALK - $2 donation to walk uphill through the Ladybird Hill vineyard – great views over Omarama and surrounds, plus up to Aoraki/Mt Cook on a clear day. There are large flowing ponds holding salmon, Rainbow and Brown Trout for you to feed if you wish. The Vineyard is open from 10am, Wed-Sun from August to May, closed during winter.

Omarama is a small town located at the head of the Waitaki Valley in the Otago reigon of the South Island, NZ. You can get to Omarama via State Highway 8 - [Christchurch-Queenstown] or State Highway 83 - [Omarama-Oamaru].

Driving to Omarama

A good map and navigator will steer you in the right direction to Omarama. If you are travelling south from Christchurch on State Highway 1, it is best to turn off at Rangitata and follow State Highway 79 [Rangitata-Farlie],  through Geraldine to Fairlie, then turn right onto SH8 which will take you to Omarama.

Christchurch to Omarama is 340kms. Approximate driving time: 4 hrs
Geraldine to Omarama is 175 kms. Approximate driving time: 2 hrs
Fairlie to Omarama is 129 kms. Approximate driving time: 13/4 hr
Tekapo to Omarama is 86 kms. Approximate driving time: 11/4 hr
Twizel to Omarama is 30 kms. Approximate driving time: 1/2 hr
Timaru to Omarama is 160km. Approximate driving time: 21/4 hrs 
Oamaru to Omarama is 118 kms. Approximate driving time: 11/4 hr
Cromwell to Omarama is 110 kms. Approximate driving time: 11/4 hr 
Wanaka to Oamarama 113 kms. Approximate driving time: 11/4 hr
Queenstown to Omarama is 169 kms.          Approximate driving time: 2 hrs
Alexandra to Omarama is 139 kms. Approximate driving time: 11/2 hr 

(Open road speed limit in NZ is 100 kph)

Bus Schedules

There are at least three bus operators that provide transport from Omarama to other South Island destinations (Christchurch, Queenstown and the smaller towns in between). Please check out their websites for further information regarding times and prices.

It is best to pre-book your travel to ensure you get a seat and be at the departure location at least 15mins early.


Discover Omarama - Omarama highlights everything that's best about New Zealand; mountain scenery, location, location,location and small-town hospitalty. www.discoveromarama.co.nz

Visit Oamaru & Waitaki Districts - The Waitaki Valley is an unspoilt, untouched paradise with some of the best scenery in New Zealand. A drive through the Valley will inspire you to get in touch with nature, either through camping, boating or picnicking by the beautiful braided river or one of the three lakes. You can also explore the fossil trail and other limestone wonders. www.visitoamaru.co.nz/visit/waitaki-valley.aspx

Tourism Waitaki - There are a huge amount of reasons why you MUST VISIT Oamaru and the Waitaki District. Surronded by stunning natural beauty and with some of New Zealand's best 19th century architecture, the district offers visitors a welcoming and friendly environment with a huge range of experiences to participate in and ENJOY. www.tourismwaitaki.co.nz

Aoraki/Mount Cook - Aoraki/Mt Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain, standing 3754 metres (12,316 ft) above sea level. Aoraki/Mt Cook is located in the Southern Alps amongst 140 other peaks that are higher than 2000m, 19 of which are over 3000m. These make up Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and are part of Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Area. www.mount-cook.nz.com

Central Otago - Affectionally called 'Central' by those that know it well, Central Otago is New Zealand's most inland region, located in the southern half of the South Island. www.centralotagonz.com/

DOC Department of Conservation - Interested in seeing kakī firsthand? Or perhaps you'd like to see the kārearea/falcon in the Benmore Range? The Mackenzie Country & Waitaki area is rife with places to hike, mountain bike, horseback ride and view wildlife. www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-visit/canterbury/mackenzie-country-and-waitaki


Hertitage - www.heritagegatewayhotel.co.nz

Country Time - www.countrytimehotel.co.nz

Omarama Hotel - phone 0064 3 438 9713


Ahuriri Motels - www.ahuririmotels.co.nz

Sierra Motels - www.omarama.co.nz

Top 10 Motels - www.omaramatop10.co.nz


Top 10 Holiday Park - www.omaramatop10.co.nz

Ahuriri Motels - www.ahuririmotels.co.nz   (campervan sites only)

Benmore holiday Park - www.lakebenmore.co.nz

Bed & Breakfast

 Big Sky BNB - www.bigskybnb.co.nz

Dunstan Downs - www.dunstandowns.co.nz

Omarama Station - www.omaramastation.co.nz


Buscot Station - email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ahuriri Motels - www.ahuririmotels.co.nz

Dunstan Downs - www.dunstandowns.co.nz

HOT Tubs Omarama is where you can soak your soul and unwind in summer or winter, by day or night. Our tubs are cleaned & re-filled after each use with fresh mountain water - no chemicals are added. Adjust the temperature to your comfort, sit back and relax amongst Omarama's stunning landscape. www.hottubsomarama.co.nz

The Onsen Hot Pools is Queenstown's only private indoor/outdoor hot pools, high on the cliffs overlooking the Shotover River canyon. The Onsen Hot Pools experience is all about unwinding and soaking-up Queenstown’s spectacular scenery. Immerse yourself in the views, the pure waters and the fresh mountain air, as your mind and body surrenders to the deep penetrating warmth and gentle massage of our private pools. www.onsen.co.nz

Alpine Springs & Spa offers three adjoining main Hot Pools, landscaped in local greywacke rock and surrounded by the regions native alpine plants to create a natural setting. Pool temperatures range from 400C to 360C. www.alpinesprings.co.nz

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa is the natural place to unwind - a world class spa experience set in a unique alpine environment. Just a 90 minute drive from Christchurch, Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa offers the ultimate in relaxation. www.hanmersprings.co.nz

Glacier Hot Pools are nestled in lush rainforest in Franz Josef. The Glacier Hot Pools are a haven of natural tranquillity, the perfect way for visitors to unwind and experience a blissful state of pure relaxation after travelling along the West Coast or enjoying one of its many attractions. www.glacierhotpools.com

Nirvana Retreat is a health, beauty and well being sanctuary tucked in the Cardrona Valley halfway between Wanaka and Queenstown. Nirvana is a place to come to find balance, relaxation and revitalise. www.nirvanaretreat.co.nz

Maruia Springs is located deep in the heart of the Southern Alps amongst parklands of the Lewis Pass. Snowcapped mountains surround you and steam billows from natural hot spring pools. Discover a natural thermal wonderland that begs to be explored. www.maruiasprings.co.nz

Oakridge Resort is located in Wanaka. Experience special features of Oakridge Resort - a heated rock pool and health spa complex. After a hard day on the slopes, imagine coming back to a massage and a soak in the heated pools, exquisitely landscaped in rock and alpine tussock. www.oakridge.co.nz

301 km from Aoraki/Mt Cook to Oamaru

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail shows New Zealand in all its colour and beauty - from our highest mountain, past great lakes and rivers, and down to the ocean. Suitable for all ages, the 8 section bike trail varies from easy to intermediate grades, offering a pleasing mix of on and off-road terrain which links the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean.

Allow 4-6 days for the entire ride, or simply try a day excursion. Whichever option you choose, the A2O Cycle Trail is sure to be a memorable experience

 The cycle trail is divided into 8 sections, allowing you to break up your adventure as you wish. Each section has been graded to indicate the fitness and experience required.

Trail Map

Aoraki/Mt Cook to Braemar Road 35km
Braemar Road to Twizel 42km
Twizel to Lake Ohau Lodge 38km
Lake Ohau Lodge to Omarama 41km
Omarama to Otematata 24km
Otematata to Kurow 43km
Kurow to Duntroon 23km
Duntroon to Oamaru 

Riding Through the Seasons

In late spring you will be able to view the alpine flowers including the indigenous Mount Cook Lily (Ranunculus lyallii) and the famous Mackenzie Basin Lupins (technically a pest). Summer brings out the majestic colours of the Mackenzie and Waitaki valleys and also the warmth to enjoy swimming in local lakes and rivers. Early autumn sees the change of season colours and at times there is a of snow on the mountain ranges, adding to the beauty of this ride.

Visit the website for more details www.alps2ocean.com

Getting there

The main start point is Aoraki/Mount Cook or alternatively Tekapo, and the finish point is Oamaru but there are multiple access points along the route.

For location based cyclists, or trail riders looking for side trips along the way, the trail is also ideally placed to combine with existing trails in the region.

Ohau, Snow Fields & Lake Ohau Lodge - the quiet jewel of the Mackenzie High Country is nestled below the Ohau Range in the Main Divide.  In summer it is endowed with fine weather and long daylight hours and in winter with reliable snow. www.ohau.co.nz

Mt Cook Heli Skiing - We heliski in some of the most spectacular alpine terrain in NZ. The Ben Ohau Range, just outside the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, and The Tasman, Murchison and Mannering Glaciers which offer some of the longest vertical and exciting skiing in NZ.  The Ben Ohau area is where Heli skiing first started in New Zealand. www.mtcook.com/heliski

Ski RoundHill, Lake Tekapo - Ski or Snowboard in the heart of the South Island of New Zealand. Roundhill is a fantastic family ski field with breathtaking views of Aoraki Mt Cook, the Southern Alps and Lake Tekapo.  Roundhill is a place that friends and family meet to enjoy a relaxing day on the slopes. www.roundhill.co.nz

Mount Dobson Ski Field, Farlie - the ulitmate snowsport destination. Ski and ride at Mt Dobson for natural dry powder snow, a huge learners area with all day sun and wide open uncrowded runs.  www.dobson.co.nz

 Cardrona Alpine Resort - Skiers and Snowboarders of all ages will enjoy our fun and friendly mountain. Come and explore it all - wide open beginners trails, pristine groomers, fun freeride terrain and world class parks and pipes. www.cardrona.com

Treble Cone - Over four remarkable basins (550ha), Treble Cone is the largest ski area in Queenstown and Wanaka, offering a massive diversity of terrain. Undeniably something for everyone. www.treblecone.com


Hot / Cool Tubs


+ Saunas


Therapeutic Massage



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