Omarama is in the middle of everywhere and amongst some of
New Zealand's top scenic attractions. It's where various
scenes of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings was filmed. It's
a gliding mecca and boasts the world's best mountain soaring.
With its nearby mountains, the prevailing westerly winds, hot
summer temperatures, clear air, spectacular Southern Alps and
the extraordinary mountain-lee waves that occur there,
Omarama has been the site of three world gliding
championships and the location of more than 20 world gliding
records, including a recent distance record of 2500km.
It was also the base for Steve Fossett's high altitude Perlan
And operating there for the past 18 years has been Glide
Omarama and its subsidiary, Southern Soaring - the most
experienced commercial glider operators in the country.
‘‘We're also authorised as a glider training organisation by
the CAA and Gliding New Zealand,'' says Gavin Wills, Glide
Omarama's managing director and senior instructor. ‘‘All the
instructor pilots are mountain-soaring specialists, each with
thousands of flying hours behind them. Between them they have
won many national and international gliding races''.
Glide Omarama and Southern Soaring offer adventure soaring
trial flights, which is an opportunity for the public to fly
with the team, learn about the sport of gliding, see some
extraordinary scenery and have a fantastic adventure.
‘‘If you've never been gliding before we can provide the
ultimate introductory flight,'' says Mr Wills. ‘‘Flying in
the scenery is our specialty and we pride ourselves on giving
clients the country's premier gliding experience as their
After arriving in the town, simply follow the brown tourist
signs advertising glider flights and then the blue ‘‘Southern
Soaring'' signs that lead to Glide Omarama's front door.
After meeting one of the professional instructors, carefully
chosen to provide an enjoyable and safe experience, customers
are given a full safety briefing and shown how the dual-seat
high-performance aircraft is controlled in flight.
Once the glider is towed aloft by the towplane, the glider is
released at around 2000ft above the airfield and the pilot
begins to search for updrafts. This may involve finding hot
columns of rising air (thermals) or soaring along above the
nearby mountain ridges. The views are stunning, with Mount
Cook clearly visible on good days. ‘‘All clients get to fly
in the front seat and have an opportunity to fly the glider
under the guidance of the pilot,'' Mr Wills revealed. To
avoid being disappointed, bookings are strongly recommended
in the soaring season from September to May. Flights from 30
minutes to five hours long start at NZ$325.00.
Check www.GlideOmarama.com and www.DiscoverOmarama.co.nz for further