Omaui is a small coastal settlement situated at the end of a gravel road, 8 km from Greenhills on the Bluff highway. Omaui village nestles back into Omaui hill and faces north, overlooking Omaui Beach, Oreti Beach and the New River Estuary. It is sheltered from the south and the west by the bush clad body and the flanks of the hill. There are about thirty dwellings in the village, some of which are permanently occupied and others which are holiday or weekend homes.
Omaui has a long history of human settlement; beginning in about the 1400’s, when it became a Maori settlement, providing sufficient resources to support a thriving community. European sealers, whalers and traders arrived in the early 1800’s. Later, more permanent settlers used the area for shipping, flax milling, timber extraction, farming and a health camp which is now operated by the YMCA as a school camp
Situated directly behind the village is the Invercargill City Council (ICC) Omaui Reserve. This reserve is slightly smaller than 20 hectares. Until a few decades ago this was rough pasture. The reserve is now regenerating native bush, consisting of Manuka, Lancewood/Horoeka, Broadleaf/Kapuka & Pittosporum/Matipo. There is a long established walking track & viewing platform, with views from east of Invercargill to Colac Bay. This track is well used by Southlanders and visitors from further afield.
Adjoining the ICC Reserve is the much larger Department of Conservation (DOC) Scenic Reserve (est 1963) of slightly more than 200 hectares. This reserve is a good example of original native lowland coastal forest now rare in the Invercargill region.
Large ancient Rata trees are plentiful here along with a good selection of other mature native trees, Rimu, Totara, Miro, Kamahi and many others. In some parts of the reserve the bush is extremely dense and lush.
In late 2017 the Omaui walking track was opened in the DOC reserve. A return trip of slightly less than 5km this walk offers an opportunity to experience the beauty of the bush up close, from the inside. Views of Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island, Centre Island and Western Southland can be seen from the top end of the walk.