Omakau offers a relaxed rural setting, interesting historic buildings and a friendly atmosphere against a backdrop of the beautiful Dunstan Mountains.
Situated 23km northeast of Alexandra, this farming town flourished when the railway opened in about 1905. Magnificent stone stables still stand alongside the local hotel originally built in 1898 as a farmhouse. Preserved, almost stately, town buildings remain and to the north on the hill is the grand Omakau Catholic Church.
South of Omakau there is a lovely picnic spot at Thomson’s Creek Bridge and the quaint gold mining town of Ophir, with its picturesque suspension bridge across the Manuherikia River.
Central Otago accommodation is available and meal providers offer a range of cafe style options. Services include a petrol station, general store and post office. Challenge yourself at the 9-hole golf course while the children enjoy the playground in the domain.
Live races and off-track entertainment at the Omakau Racecourse up Racecourse Road, approximately 4km out of town, draws large crowds during the Christmas and New Year period.
The Central Otago A & P Show is hosted in February at the Omakau Show Grounds, attracting trade exhibits and stalls from throughout the South Island.
A subsequent visit to St Bathans means you can either continue northeast along SH85 or take the turn off up Racecourse Road. Enjoy some short and worthwhile excursions along the way to Matakanui, Drybread and Cambrians.
No matter where you’re heading, Omakau’s rural and mountainous scenery and its central location provides an interesting, family-friendly stop.