Driving in the opposite direction to Twizel this time hits us like a breath of fresh air.
We were headed to the beach on the East coast of NZ’s South Island, to find some curiously placed boulders…
The single straight road is very much the most boring drive I would have done except New Zealand throws some incredible scenery at us along the way.
There are lay-bys to make a quick photo stop along the way and our decision to park up by Lake Benmore was nothing short of amazing.
Sheltered by the wind, this lake becomes a still, glassy mirror, with the snowcapped mountains, bushes and clouds reflected upon it’s surface.
I instantly felt calm, a rarity these days but reminds me that nature is still powerful enough to have an effect on human’s state of mind.
Moving on, we passed Wakatipu, Kakanui and Oamaru, very Maori place names. My pronunciation of them as we pass comes off as a weird mumble of consonants… and realised that these were the hometowns of our kids in our school group lessons, an hour or two hours drive away from Ohau. Definitely dedicated little skiers living there!
The drive gets a little more interesting as we approach the coast towards Moeraki, the road winds like a ribbon over and around large rolling hills, and the view of the sea opens out behind the fields with black and white calves as we cruise down Thousand Acre Road (appropriately named!).
Arriving at a little car park with a seafood cafe and a souvenir shop my first impressions was “oh.. this is going to be touristy”… an automatic preconception I’ve acquired from travelling Japan to famous scenic spots.
However upon arriving, this seems to be quite a pleasant little spot. The cafe is located in a really nice spot for viewing the surrounding bay, and the fish served there is caught fresh and actually tasted like the sea.
Full of fish we headed down to the Moeraki Boulders, the entrance fee is $2, a reasonable price I would say for the upkeep of the cafe, entrance steps and beach cleanliness.
Referred to by the locals as the “Stonehenge of New Zealand”, the Moeraki Boulders are a large group of up to 2m in diameter spherical stones, situated on Koekohe Beach.
These boulders are actually concretions originally formed in ancient sea floor sediments around 60 million years ago, that have now been exposed through shoreline erosion.
They are legally protected now from removal or graffiti, as are regarded a well-treasured natural attraction on the South Island.
There are about 50 in total, and some of them are big enough to climb inside!
This beach looks like a dinosaur nesting ground. A great place for kids (and big kids) to let their imagination run wild.
Omarama HOT Tubs
After a hard week’s shovelling snow I longed for a good soak in an onsen. I was spoilt for choice in Japan, however Otago had some options for good hot tubs.
Omarama HOT Tubs was one of them, more like hiring a private onsen in Japan, but they had 8 private outdoor tubs overlooking lakes, grassland and the snow-capped mountains.
Four tubs can fit up to 4 people and four tubs can fit up to 8 people. For two people it is $45 each for a 1.5 hour session, pricey but worth it if you were planning a romantic time at this secluded place enjoying the sunset or Milky Way overlooking this view.
They provided us with drinks and a tiny lantern and we chilled in the fresh untreated mountain water until dark. They have a changing and shower room next to the tubs and a toilet block nearby.
Fish and Chips at Moeraki Boulders Cafe was $24 for small and $33 for large. Seafood Chowder and other dishes on the menu also look reasonably priced.
Moeraki Boulders is $2 entry fee.
Moeraki Boulders is approximately a 30 minute drive from Oamaru. 2.5 hours from Ohau.
Cafe opening times 9am-5pm every day.
Address: Moeraki Boulders 7 Moeraki Boulders Rd, Hampden 9482
Omamara HOT Tubs opening times: 10am – 11pm every day.
Address: 29 Omarama Ave, Main Omarama Twizel Highway, HOT Tubs Omarama, Omarama 9448
One person – $52 per person
Two people – $45 per person
Three people – $38 per person
Four+ people – $34 per person
Sauna and massage treatments available.