The place of light
Okay, you want to see Mt Cook. Everybody does. And you've heard about Queenstown. Hey, everyone's heard about Queenstown; bars, bungy, luge, the lot. And you checked out the ski fields on line before you came here. So you've got everything sussed - maps in the rental and you're ready to roll, south, maybe on the inland route, because that's the way to Mt Cook. All good. Except we don't know what we don't know, do we? And chances are you won't know about a little country junction with a very cool name; Omarama - "The place of Light". And plenty more; cafes, shops, cafes and shops, like the Wrinkly Ram, which also features a sheep dog and shearing show (Minimum number 6, booking necessary). Weary travellers can bliss the bod at Omarama Hot Tubs and, if you're a sword and sandals fan, you'll want to see Totara Peak Gallery's display of costumes from Xena - Warrior Princess and Hercules. Boondocks it is not. Totara Peak's also got some of the coolest collectables you'll find anywhere and an impressive selection of old books. So when you're driving and see the sign - Omarama - don't pass through. Pause through. Then you can say you've seen the light.
...And the place of (f)light
It's the silence you notice. All you hear is the air. There's no engine, no propellors, no rattling, no roar, just a bird's ear view. You're in a machine as streamlined as a shark, perfectly adapted to its environment. The composite wings flex as they catch a thermal. You rise. Down below, you see the jagged peaks that mark the buckled edge of the Pacific rim. Turquoise rivers run to the sea. Great lakes fill the valleys. No-one else is as lucky as you are, right in this moment.
Omarama is one of the best places on the planet for gliding. World championships have been held here. Ace glider pilots come to ride these updrafts. And you can too. There's three flight options; the 30 minute Valley Explorer, the 1 hour Mountain Adventurer and the 2 to 3 hour Great Alpine Adventure. If cattle class is as close as you've come to flying, it's time you tried the real thing. Cruise the silent skies - it's a trip like no other.
P.S. If you get the bug, stick around and do the Learn-to-Fly course. You can go from novice to solo in just seven days.
SOUTHERN SOARING - OMARAMA AIRFIELD: Twizel-Omarama State Highway 8
PHONE: 0064 3 438 9555 or 0800 SOARING (0800 762 746)
More info from the Oamaru i-SITE, Cnr Thames Highway and Itchen Street, or the Omarama i-SITE - in the Hot Tubs complex