SH8 traverses tussock and sheep country 30km south from Twizel to the junction settlement of OMARAMA (Maori for “place of light”), best known for the Clay Cliffs just outside town and its wonderful conditions for gliding.
Prevailing westerly winds rising over the Southern Alps create a unique air-wave across the Mackenzie Country’s flatlands, making Omarama New Zealand’s gliding capital. Its airfield was the one-time playground of dick Georgeson, pioneer of New Zealand aviation and the South island’s first glider pilot, back in 1950. You can follow his lead with Southern Soaring (soaring.co.nz) who let you take the front seat on spectacular two-seater glider flights, with a chance to take the controls and get great views of Aoraki/Mount Cook on a good day. Most trips run October and March.