Omarama (pronounced O - mara - ma) is a small rural town in Otago, South Island, New Zealand, that benefits from being in the same region as many of the country's top scenic attractions. Many scenes for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings were filmed in the area. Given the nearby mountains, prevailing westerly winds and hot summer temperatures, it is also world-renowned as a premier gliding location.
Omarama Airfield (left), Omarama township (right), Lake Benmore (rear) and Mt St Cuthbert. All facilities are within walking distance of Southern Soaring's base.
How to get there
Christchurch is the nearest large international airport and is a four-hour drive from Omarama. If driving from Christchurch, take State Highway One south-west through Ashburton and follow the signs to Aoraki/Mt Cook. You will pass through the towns of Geraldine, Fairlie and Tekapo. Some international flights also arrive in Queenstown from Australia.
Wanaka is one hour by road and Queenstown is two hours away. Rental cars are readily available at Christchurch and Queenstown.
Alternatively, you can get a ride with Atomic Shuttles. This company runs a service from Christchurch or Queenstown (going both directions). Details on their timetable are available on their website at: www.atomictravel.co.nz
Southern Soaring's base is in the Omarama Soaring Centre located on the airfield one kilometre north-east of the town. It is well sign posted - just follow the brown tourist signs for "Glider Flights" and Southern Soaring's blue sidewalk signs.
Omarama has a general store (with postal facilities), two petrol stations, a garage/workshop, a variety of cafes and restaurants, a pub and bottle store. There are no banks or cash machines in town.
Omarama has a wide range of accommodation
options. For recommendations, please contact us. We can also book for you
Located right on the airfield is a
camping ground run by the Omarama Soaring Centre. You can bring your own
tent/campervan or hire a caravan. The campground has excellent facilities
with good showers; ablutions; DIY laundry; a large well-appointed kitchen
with fridges, freezers, stoves, tables, chairs and cooking utensils; and
an outside barbecue area which is used every night during summer - a great
place to meet other glider pilots. Fees are NZ$14.00 per night per
person, and an additional NZ$20.00 per night for caravan hire. For bookings
and enquiries, please contact us.
Close to the airfield, the Sierra Motels have large comfortable units, a fishing tackle shop and great hosts. Standard rate is NZ$90.00 per night for one adult or NZ$110.00 per night for two adults but discounts are available to Southern Soaring pilots staying for a reasonable length of time. For bookings, please contact us or Cathy or Neville Ferguson on +64 3 438 9785 or email at email@example.com
Owned by Richard and Annabelle Subtil,
Merino Backpackers is located
within walking distance of Omarama township and is ideal for those wanting
a bit of quiet. Full kitchen and bathroom facilities are provided in this
comfortable accommodation. A Dorm Share is $15.00 per person and a Twin
with Ensuite is $20.00 per person. A tent site is $8.00 per person.
A bed and breakfast option is also offered
at Longview Cottage. This has been highly recommended by one of our clients.
Single is $70.00 and double is $120.00.
For further details the Omarama Station
Other contacts are: Richard or Annabelle
on (03) 438 9820, or (027) 406 9522, or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Sally and Tony Fodie have some very good accommodation to offer glider pilots and families with a two bedroom chalet that has a large section and a covered patio facing north with spectacular mountain views. The Chalet has a queen size room and a twin room, small kitchen and comfortable lounge and dining area. It is close to the airfield. Prices are $95 for two and $20 per person after that. Please contact us for bookings.
Located next to the airfield is the Countrytime Hotel with
its own restaurant. All rooms are fully serviced and have their own shower/bath,
television, tea and coffee making facilities, internet access and telephone.
SKY TV is available in the lounge, which is adjacent to the bar. The hotel
is only a four minute walk from Southern Soaring's facilities - great if
you don't have a vehicle.
Heritage Gateway Hotel
Another comfortable hotel is the Heritage Gateway, which is located one kilometre away from the airfield in Omarama township. Rooms rates are the highest in town but for those wanting a little bit of extra comfort, the hotel is recommended.
across the road from the airfield are the Omarama Hot Tubs. Operated by Jan
and Lance Thomas, this attraction opened during the 2008/2009 season and is
becoming very popular for those wanting to unwind in the evening. Prices are
$30.00 per head. Highly recommended!
Within walking distance of the airfield is the Wrinkly Rams cafe with good food at reasonable prices. For those wanting to, you can even watch sheep being shorn.
For those wanting lunch, the Oasis provide takeaway food and dine-in options. The Merino also provides dine-in or takeaway food and can supply packed lunches if required. If needed they can also exchange foreign currency.
Meals are available from both the Countrytime Hotel and Heritage Gateway. The Omarama Hotel does cheap bar meals, which you can have outside under the umbrellas while enjoying a cold beer. They also do takeaways.