At the southern end of the MacKenzie Basin, ten kilometres west of Omarama, down a dusty gravel potholed private road there is an amazing natural phenomenon which many people are unaware of. Even though they are within sight of the main state highway far across the Ahuriri River plain. These are the Omarama Clay Cliffs.
The cliffs are on private land but are accessible to the public along a farm road that runs beside the Ahuriri River. There’s a small entry fee and an ‚iron maiden‘ (steel tube cemented into the ground) at the gate where you can deposit your money or pay at Omarama Hot Tubs in the village.
The Clay Cliffs are huge sharp pinnacles and ridges with deep, narrow ravines separating them. The Clay Cliffs are made of layers of gravel and silt, deposited by rivers flowing from the glaciers that existed 1-2 million years ago. Compared to the nearby mountains, which are 250 million years old, the Clay Cliffs are relatively new. Today the gravel and silt layers can be seen as sloping bands as the strata have been tilted since their deposit 1-2 million years ago.