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New Zealand Travel

Clay Cliffs, Omarama, New Zealand

The Clay Cliffs in Omarama are a major/recommended (by most travel websites and guides) tourist attraction. Actually, they are just some soft clay peaks, and in my personal opinion, isn’t worth too much of your time. Come prepared on a nice sunny day with the necessary lens, tripod and camera and you should be able to get satisfying shots in only a morning.

The location:
The Clay Cliffs are located in private property so can be a little hard to find. Particularly in this area, where there is nothing but empty roads surrounded by grassy fields in every direction. We spent at least 20 minutes looking for this area, expecting big signs or the like. The only signage was a small sign much like the street name signs you get, on the corner of a road, that said “Clay Cliffs”. The property is accessed via unpaved gravel/dirt roads.

This was the largest sign we encountered, on a gate to private road. There is a small charge of $5 per private vehicle or $20 per bus, New Zealand dollars. The sign says to pay at the Information Center, but when I was there, there was a small small container nearby to put cash in.

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Some reviews on Tripadvisor from 2015 and earlier says the gate was locked, however when I went, the gate was open, although the attractiveness of the site is still equally questionable.

As the area is un-guarded, people are expected to act on honesty, and to READ THE SIGNS. Particularly the SAFETY signs. Like this one, that we encountered further up the road: IMG_2145In faded red letters at the bottom, the sign says: This waterway is infected with Didymo, which is an invasive freshwater diatom that produces brown mucousy stringy mats that clog otherwise clear, low-phosphorus water. As an invasive species and impossible to remove, you do not want to get these on your shoes.

What’s Here:
This isolated area on private property has little to offer besides photography and a hike. Although, you wouldn’t get very far hiking as the cliffs are just peaks and are very soft and crumbly, not solid rock and definitely not suitable for climbing vertically on its face, and the ground is made of broken clay bits that slide beneath your feed on steep places. Wear suitable shoes.

The only other thing to do here is photography. There is the potential to take some good photos here, but only in good sunny weather without rain. For examples, just have a search on the internet.

Getting here:
You might have to ask for general directions once you get to Omarama first, our GPS wasn’t very good at finding this place. Once in the local area, follow the somewhat vague signs. Local hotels would have advertisements and pamphlets for this place.

There are spaces for car parking here, it is a small open dirt field. According to the signs, the ‘car park’ is about 10 minute walk after a 4km drive. We parked too early and ended up being a 20-30 minute walk.

This is what the cliffs look like from some distance away as we approached on foot:IMG_2150

If you are renting a car and driving here, get a 4-wheel drive. You’ll need it to get up a short but steep step.  The road is narrow so drove slowly, go during the day time and watch out for other cars.

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Looking up from within the ‘cliffs’:IMG_2213

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Things to note:
The surrounding areas a sheep pastures and the sheep roam about freely. This also means the sheep droppings are everywhere.

Do not step where there is water near the waterways as they are infested with didymo. You do not want to bring it back with you.

Verdict:
Apart from photography I wouldn’t really recommend this as a must-see destination. Not only is it hard to find but is also a little disappointing once you arrive, especially when compared to the promotional pictures. For photography, go on a sunny day to make the most of the opportunity. Otherwise I recommend doing something else in New Zealand.

Coming soon: My review of the night’s accommodation: Camelot Motor Lodge in Christchurch. Subscribe so you get notified!

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Accommodation New Zealand New Zealand accommodation Photography Travel

Omarama Top 10 Holiday Park – A Review

This post is a review of Top 10 Holiday Park, a camping and caravan grounds with self-catered cabins in Omarama, New Zealand.

Omarama Top 10 Holiday Park – 9/10
Address: 1 Omarama Avenue, Omarama, 9448 New Zealand

Top 10 Holiday Park is a chain company with lots of camp grounds in different cities, providing caravans and campers with camping grounds, electricity, water and cottages.

We rented 2 cottages, each one had a car space in front of it.

The 2 staff members at check in (a man and woman) were not very nice, but the accommodation and facilities are great for a holiday park.

Location:
This place was within a convenient location to the Clay Mountains, although there are other hotels across the road. This location was on the side of the road away from the city, sort of like on the side of a highway. (A lot of the places we drove to in New Zealand on this trip were scattered along long stretches of roads, with the exception of Christchurch where the hotels were in the city).

Facilities:
The facilities here are much better than the previous location, Alpine View and I must say, quite good for a caravan park. The free internet was limited to 3 devices at one time which was a bit inconvenient as that meant 1 person had to log off if another one of us needed internet connection (4 in our group) but I suppose would be sufficient if you had 3 or less people in your group. Internet was fast.

Our cabin had there were 2 bedrooms, one had 2 single beds and one had one double bed. The kitchen was nice, good cookware with clean microwave and fridge. There is a dining table, sofa and television. We had to request milk in little capsules from the check in after seeing there weren’t any in the fridge.

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Plenty of toiletries including soap, shampoo, extra toilet paper, iron, hairdryer and dustpan.

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Towels in the bathroom and on your bed, like in all the other places we stayed at. Bathroom was modern and comfortable.

Bedrooms were comfortable, warm and well equipped with a table lamp for each person and a wardrobe for clothes, however the cabins closest to the road could be a bit noisy at night (only the sounds of occasional cars, nothing like the city, for those of you concerned).

Bedroom 1IMG_2134

Bedroom 2IMG_2130Clean and well furnished. Nice clothes hangers too, not the thin wire ones.

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For campers, there are public kitchens which looked quite clean when we came, pay computer/internet rooms (quite small, about 6 or so computers), laundry rooms, kid’s play equipment (including a large enclosed trampoline), a small tv lounge, and being a camp site, pets are allowed.

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Public laundry roomIMG_2136

TV roomIMG_2135

There was also a playground with a trampoline, a sturdy, enclosed spring-less one.

Total price for 2 cabins for a total of 7 people for 1 night: $328 New Zealand dollars. At this price and given the facilities, I think this is not bad.

Stay time: January 24-25, 2016

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Coming soon: Clay Cliffs, Omarama. Subscribe so you get notified!

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Whether it is a flight or a hotel, international or domestic, if you travel a lot, or like my blog, or both, please bookmark this page and support my blog by using my affiliate links to make your next booking!

©All rights reserved for all content and photographs, usage on 3rd party sites are forbidden without permission. Photos are taken by author unless otherwise stated.