Between the Lakes Benmore and Aviemore lies a stunning Summer camping destination: Ōtemātātā, the perfect place to relax and refuel. Originally established as a construction town for the nearby power stations it’s now an underrated locale for adventure seekers.
With a range of activities to indulge in, including mountain biking or walking on the trails at the Ōtematata Wetlands, jetboating, boating and fishing, the fresh Ōtemātātā air will get your heart pumping.
Take the roads less travelled around the back of Lake Aviemore to a camping ground primed for boating with ramps at the ready. From Te Akatarawa Road, after you cross the Aviemore Dam, lies the path to the deep stream walkway: a true hidden gem of the Waitaki. 20 minutes into the walk there’s a picnic table where you can savour lunch overlooking the lake.
After another stunning vista? The DOC Benmore Peninsula hike is an easy 4km loop circuit that takes around an hour and a half to complete. Both you and your pooch (on a lead) will be rewarded with views that are out of this world (but are definitely still in NZ).
The brand new trail section of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail opens in December and it will take you off SH83 from popular fishing site Sailor’s Cutting, so named for the chosen hiding place of AWOL sailors, through the Waitaki Valley to the Benmore dam.
Built from a gargantuan weight of earth and clay, the Benmore dam— true to Kiwi spirit—is a vision of ingenuity.
Walk, pedal, or drive, you’ll want to traverse the Benmore dam anyway you can. NZ’s largest earth dam is home to fable-inspiring scenery that’ll steal your breath in the best way possible, especially if you are lucky enough catch the spectacle of the dam spilling after a heavy rain.
Benmore Dam which is the largest rammed earth dam in New Zealand and the second largest hydro-electricity producer in the country. Also nearby is the Otematata Wetlands which is a tranquil place to stop and relax.
As summer winds down and the days shorten, the area transforms with strong autumn colours from golden poplars and willow flanking the edges of the lake.