CHRISTCHURCH – OMARAMA (Via Ashburton, Geraldine & Fairlie)
Travel distance is approximately 340kms (212 miles).
Allow at least 4.5 hours drive time (not including stops).
This 9 day self-drive journey provides plenty of easy driving and superb South Island scenery, from the vast Canterbury plains, to the surreal Nor West arch of Omarama and the stunning Otago Peninsula.
Other highlights of this exciting trip include the rugged beauty of the West Coast as well as Milford and Doubtful Sounds. Queenstown is the tourist Mecca of New Zealand and you will thoroughly enjoy your time in this alpine holiday resort.
Some notable stops along the route to Omarama include:
This is a lovely place to enjoy morning tea or a bite of lunch in one of the many cafes or restaurants in the bustling township. The area also boasts great shopping facilities, craft shops, a nationally recognised art gallery, museum and visitor information centre.
Rated as “New Zealand’s most beautiful town” by Lonely Planet, this sub-alpine village in South Canterbury has a lot to offer visitors to the region, including some of the world’s best Trout and Salmon fishing and wonderful bush walks in nearby Peel Forest.
THE ALPACA CENTRE
Located in Geraldine, the fabulous fibre from Alapca can be purchased along with knitwear for adults, baby and children, Alapaca novelties, gifts and souvenirs.
Offering Grade 1 – Grade 5 river grading in the Spectacular Rangitata Gorge so visitors can enjoy the excitement of white water rafting and breathtaking alpine scenery. Trips take approximately 2.5 hours.
This thriving rural township is located at the junction of Mid Canterbury and South Canterbury. The town offers plenty of dining options for those seeking a coffee break, lunch or more! There are some great craft shops to be visited including Fairlie Cottage Crafts which sells high quality crafts made only by residents of the Mackenzie district.
MT DOBSON SKI AREA
Located in the heart of the Fairlie Basin, during the winter ski season Mt Dobson offers family friendly ski-ing. Snow gear hire is available from the township.
FAIRLIE HERITAGE MUSEUM
Located in a large brick building with a windmill, the museum has a large collection of historical items connected with the Mackenzie District including a collection of horse drawn wagons, farm machinery, tractors, vehicles, household items and furnished colonial cottage.
Internationally recognised as one of the top gliding locations in the world thanks to the unique geography combined with the northwesterly wind that creates thermals that can take glider pilots to a dizzyingly 10,000 metres!
There is a limited selection of dining options in the area, however good choices include the café/restaurant in the Wrinkly Rams and home-style buffets at the Countrytime Hotel. Of course for something a little bit special, Clay Cliffs Winery is only a short drive from the township and is New Zealand’s highest-altitude vineyard. The wonderful Tuscany-style restaurant offers a fabulous menu featuring a lot of gluten-free options.
There are a few good choices for quality accommodation in the township, including the private chalets, camping ground, a couple of motels and the Countrytime Hotel, which has 50 rooms available.
Highly recommended Omarama tourist attractions include…
Clay Cliffs – The Clay Cliffs are a natural geological formation created more than 5 million years ago and provide unique photo opportunities of cliffs that are impressively sculpted into crazy bluffs, pinnacles and deep ravines.
Gliding – World famous for gliding, soar over the mountainous Mackenzie Basin landscape with an experienced gliding company from Omarama Airfield. Guided, beginner and scenic glider flights available.
Sheep Show – The Wrinkly Rams Shearing show offers 30 minutes of action and fun for all ages! The show starts with an impressive 5.1 surround sound Audio-visual experience filmed on a neighbouring High Country Station before you watch a live merino sheep being shorn on stage by a professional shearer. After this head outside to watch a live dog trial! There are multi lingual staff on site to assist with language.
Ahuriri Conservation Park – Enjoy 49,000 hectares of Department of Conservation recreation land featuring native forest, open tussock land, wetlands plus Beech and Tawhai forest. Enjoy the range of walking and hiking tracks, historic homestead site, mountain biking, 4WD, picnic spots, fishing, birdwatching and much more.
Omarama Golf Course – Enjoy a relaxing country game of golf on this fabulous nine-hole par 72 course.
Ohau Skifield – Only a 30 minute drive from Omarama, the ski field is open from late June to early October (depending on snow levels) and is suitable for all levels. The field has two ski lifts, day lodge plus ski and snowboard instructors.
Fly Fishing – Guided fishing trips are available with experienced local guides so you can fish for Rainbow and Brown trout.
New Zealand Itineraries: South Island Suggested Itineraries
Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!
- 5 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Franz Josef – Wanaka, Wanaka – Mt Cook and Mt Cook – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – St Arnuad, St Arnuad – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 5 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Queenstown, Queenstown – Dunedin, Dunedin – Oamaru and Oamaru – Christchurch
- 7 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercargill, Invercargill – Stewart Island, Stewart Island – Te-anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown and Queenstown – Christchurch
- 8 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Greymouth, Greymouth – Fox Glacier, Fox Glacier – Wanaka, Wanaka – Queenstown, Queenstown – Te Anau, Te Anau – Dunedin and Dunedin – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Invercragill, Invercargill – Te Anau, Te Anau Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Mt Cook, Mt Cook – Lake Tekapo and Lake Tekapo – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Christchurch – Omarama, Omarama – Dunedin, Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Te Anau – Queenstown, Queenstown – Haast, Haast – Greymouth and Greymouth – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 3): Christchurch – Hanmer Springs, Hanmer Springs – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Takaka, Takaka – Motueka, Motueka – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch
- 11 Day Itinerary: Christchurch – Dunedin, Dunedin – Te Anau, Te Anau – Milford Sound, Milford Sound – Queenstown, Queenstown – Wanaka, Wanaka – Franz Josef, Franz Josef – Greymouth, Greymouth – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim, Blenheim – Kaikoura and Kaikoura – Christchurch