Ohau to Omarama
SECTION 4 – OHAU TO OMARAMA
Technical Difficulty: Grade 3
Fitness Required: Intermediate
Trail Overview: This section includes the longest climb, the longest downhill and the highest point on the trail. The surface is a mix or shingle cycle trail, gravel and sealed road, has amazing views, especially at Tarn Brae.
Starting from the drive into Lake Ohau Lodge, the A2O Cycle trail traverses the lower slopes of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, with stunning views back across the Mackenzie Basin, where you’ve come from, and where you’re going. The first 6km is fairly easy cycling up to Freehold Creek, 600m above sea level. From here the track narrows and it’s a steady climb to Tarn Brae, the high point on the trail at 900m.
Please be aware that there are several ‘false summits’ where the trail appears to reach the high point, Be prepared for them so you won’t be disappointed. This is one of the paces on the trail where you’re able to fill your water bottles from the streams that flow down from the mountains. The trail also flows through sections of old beech forest with several places suitable for stopping for a snack and photo opportunity.
Once at the high point it is a highly enjoyable flowing descent down cycle trail and then grass to the historic woolshed at the top of Quailburn Road. The last few kms are slightly uphill so save some energy. There is a Toilet by the woolshed. Although you are able to enter the woolshed to read the information boards, be careful as the building is in a very poor state of repair. Follow all warning signs and, if in doubt, don’t enter.
Follow the gravel Quailburn Road towards Omarama. This road is mainly downhill until you read the sealed portion. After a few kms, you’ll see a yellow sign to the Clay Cliffs. These are a fantastic side trip and well worth it, but, only if you have the energy, it’s an extra 14km round trip and the final few kms to the cliffs are uphill. You’ve been warned!
Where Quailburn Road meets the highway, follow the off-road trail to the right through the Ahuriri Camp Ground. Cross over the Ahuriri river on the road bridge before rejoining the off-road trail into Omarama. In our option, you should finish the trail at the Omarama Hot Tubs so that you can rest your tired limbs in your own private hot tub.