Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Hoodoos at a Mini-Bryce

About 15 minutes drive from Omarama, south of Lake Tekapo on New Zealand’s South Island, are the large sharp pinnacles of an area known as the Clay Cliffs, Between the pinacles are  ridges with deep, narrow ravines separating them. Created about 1-2 million years ago, the Clay Cliffs are made of layers of gravel and silt deposited by rivers flowing from ancient glaciers . This area is geologically very young and quite different from the nearby mountains of the Southern Alps, which are some 250 million years old. The gravel and silt layers show as sloping bands as the strata have been slowly tilted over time.  In the late afternoon sun the pinnacles and ravines show in stark relief .  The area reminds me of photographs I have seen of the Hoodoos in  Bryce Canyon, Utah where we plan to visit later this year.

Clay Cliffs, Omarama, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Clay Cliffs, Omarama, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Clay Cliffs, Omarama, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013


9 responses

  1. O gee – really quite something! Beautiful photos too…

    February 20, 2013 at 9:21 am

    • Thanks Ana. This place was a bit of a surprise. Its on private property down a dusty road 5 km of the main highway. Wasn’t sure what to expect. Private farm road (entry by donation) ends in a 4WD track which is at the base of clay pinnacles. Look forward to seeing the grander version in Utah.

      February 20, 2013 at 9:45 am

  2. A great post! Do you need a 4WD to reach the cliffs? How good is the road? As we passed a while back in a normal car, but didn’t risk it. We will be passing that way again in the future (again in a ‘normal’ car!) and would like to visit if we can.

    February 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    • Hi Nicola, Yes you can drive right up in a normal car. To get to the Clay Cliffs from Omarama is about 15 mins drive north towards Twizel. Take the first road on your left about 700m after the Ahuriri Bridge (Quailburn Rd), the route is well signposted from there. Henburn Rd is unsealed and dusty, so is the private road that leads to the cliffs. You have to go through two gates on the private farm road, one at the entrance, and another about 500m before the cliffs. Stop at the carpark where there is a 4WD sign.You will be asked for a donation towards the upkeep of the road into the area at the gate, $5 per vehicle. Enjoy your visit. Chris G

      February 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm

      • Excellent – that is great to know and thanks for the details! ::)

        February 20, 2013 at 9:05 pm

  3. twoscamps

    We missed out on seeing this – it does resemble Bryce. If you do come to Utah this year let us know. It would be fun to meet up.

    February 21, 2013 at 8:39 am

    • Hi Maureen, Glad I wasn’t too far off the mark with my comparison with Bryce Canyon. We plan to be in Utah in early October. It would be nice to catch up if it can be arranged. Chris G

      February 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm

  4. Excellent photos 🙂

    March 25, 2013 at 5:55 am

    • Thank you. It was an unexpectedly magical place.

      March 25, 2013 at 10:02 am

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