Ohau to Omarama
Section 4 – Ohau to Omarama
This section completes what we call the ‘Alpine’ section of the A2O. Going cross country, on undulating terrain, on dedicated cycletrail through remnants of old Beech forest. These trees date back over 100 million years to a time when Aotearoa (New Zealand) was part of Gondwanaland (the original continent of the Southern Hemisphere). The trail leaves from next to the Ohau Skifield Road and gently climbs for 12km with an altitude gain of around 600m. The views and the fun, flowing downhill on the other side make the climb worthwhile! You then reach a quiet, public, gravel road. At this point it’s worth noting that from here you are likely to cover the remaining distance quickly, as the surface is gravel but smooth with some fast downhill sections, so if your legs are up to it, why not take one of the side trips. The surface of the trail and the terrain on both these side trips is fairly rough so we recommend a mountain bike with off road tyres. The side trips are:
- Where the dedicated trail meets Qualburn road, you can turn right to visit the historic Qualburn Station, now preserved as a DOC Historic Conservation Area. This will add about 1 hour total to your day and is well worth a visit to see how high country farmers used to live and work. (This is free to view, but donations are appreciated to help preserve the buildings). There is also a DOC toilet…
- Near the end of Quailburn Road, you’ll see the signs to the Clay Cliffs, an amazing example of how different geological forces can create inspirational, natural features. Turn right for a 7Km cycle along a gravel side road. Make sure you have the time and energy for this long side trip, it’s well worth it! ($2 per person, please pay at the Omarama Hot Pools i-site).
Quailburn Road takes you to state highway 79 where you turn right and ride for for 5 kilometers on a mix of Highway and cycle trail to end at 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 under the stars.
There are no toilets on this section (other than the loo at Quailburn Station if you take that side trip), so you still need to carry a Poo Pot and keep this environment clean and green.
What To See & Do
Omarama is the glider plane capital of the world. Richard Macaw, our Captain of the world cup winning All Blacks rugby team, comes here regularly to fly gliders and many world gliding records have been set here. Omarama is definitely a great place to try gliding if you’ve never tried it before.
- Tandum Glider flights, advisable to prebook and are weather dependent.
- Omarama Hot Tubs. Also advisable to prebook so the hot water is waiting for you. These are individual, private hot tubs (suitable for 4 people) heated by their own wood burner. The water is emptied and the tubs refilled and reheated for each hire. They’re outside, under one of the clearest night skies in the world, overlook a small lake and the mountains beyond and are perfect at the end of a long day in the saddle. What more do we need to say?
Where to Stay
Omarama has a good range of accommodation including a camp ground, motels, hotels, BnB and Farmstay. BUT, when there are glider events on, public holidays or rowing regattas in the area, you must book early as the accommodation fills quickly.