The Clay Cliffs of Omarama & Why You Need to See Them Now!

Having passed by the little town of Omarama in New Zealand a few times before, I had always marvelled at the amazing sight you can see from the road as you speed by. Having never taken the time to check it out fully, it was time I investigated. And I was in for a surprise!


Omarama hosts some incredible clay cliffs. Driving by, many people miss this awesome geological feature. And for a short detour, its well worth stopping!

Created millions of years ago from glacial sediment and then uplifted by the Ostler fault, natural erosion has finished the job to what we see now.

The impressive clay formations and canyons.


Driving along the 10 km gravel road, I pull into the carpark and am greeted with a scenic view of the cliffs. The sun was hidden behind clouds but this gave the formations a certain atmospheric feel as Lanna and I started exploring.

We turned off the main path to check out a little side canyon. Clay and suspended quartzose hung overhead as we ducked into the narrow passageways.

A nesting pigeon gave me a scare as its beating wings, magnified by the narrow walls, thumped and echoed as it took flight. Filling all the small nooks and crannies, it’s the perfect nesting place for them.

Like a little kid in a candy store, I dashed off to try all the different paths. As you should well know by now, I love exploring!


As we exhausted all the little canyons we joined the main path once again and followed it through a giant opening into the main area. Like a big amphithere, this is the spot everyone comes to.

And it’s no wonder why!

There’s a certain beauty to the simple colours and complex textures of the suspended sediments. Rocks and pebbles jut out and are contrasted by the smooth rivlets caused from water coursing down.

It’s amazing how some simple things can look so magnificent!


I recommend a stop time of 1 hour to have a look, and with a very short walk to get there, there’s no reason to rush by and miss this!

CARPARK LOCATION: Take Henburn Road to HERE.

DIFFICULTY: Easy (suitable for children as well)

WALK TIME: 5-10 mins to the furthest area.

COST: As the clay cliffs are located on private property which the owner kindly allows us to use, a $5 NZD entry fee ($20 for bus) in a honesty box by the main gate is asked for on entry at the gate. Remember to close the gates as you enter and leave!


► The gravel road is well maintained by rural standards but it is long (10Km). Driving carefully is the way to go and sedans and 2WD cars are perfectly fine to take.

► Wear closed in shoes as the ground is very rocky and sandy.

► Take your camera!

And remember, always LEAVE NO TRACE and take ALL YOUR RUBBISH WITH YOU. Keep the outdoors beautiful please!

Omarama may be known for the clay cliffs, there are also a few other things to do there. The hot tubs are great for some post exploring relaxation and the region is known for epic glider flights.

While the cliffs will be around for a long time, they won’t last forever. The changing landscape is a constant reminder of the bigger things happening around us.

So be sure to stop by the clay cliffs of Omarama and explore another great part of New Zealand! There’s just so much to see and do!


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Always remember this...

The environment is under threat from human impact! For your enjoyment and for future generations, please LEAVE NO TRACE! Respect natural places and leave them clean. You can learn more about the leave no trace principles HERE.