Waitaki Valley


Otematata is a summer-holiday hotspot and is humming with campers, boaties, cyclists and other recreationists during the camping season. There are four council-managed campgrounds in the area with other comfortable accommodation options available too.

Positioned between two of the hydro dams and on the edge of Lake Aviemore, Otematata is a great base for outdoorsy types, particularly those keen on water-sports, walking, swimming, cycling, fishing and boating. Eager campers tend to flock to this area over summer with their boats and caravans in tow. You'll see jet-skis and boats zipping around the lake, fishing for trout, towing water-skiers, wake-boarders and inflatables.

The Otematata Wetlands take in some some fantastic spots along the shoreline of the lake. This is an excellent network of small tracks, trails, picnic areas and swimming spots, making it the perfect place to enjoy a packed lunch, burn off some steam with the kids or enjoy a leisurely stroll in search of interesting flora and fauna.

If you're after a more challenging walk, head up to Benmore Peninsula walking track, located just above Benmore Dam. Out the arm of the Peninsula you'll have an incredible view of Lake Benmore and it's islands you won't see anywhere else.

Benmore Dam itself can be viewed from along Loch Laird Road. Visitors can walk, cycle or drive up and over the Dam, stopping at the top to take in the views and read about the Waitaki Hydro Lakes and Dams. Benmore is the largest earthen dam in New Zealand and the second largest hydro-electricity producer.

The area transforms come autumn with strong seasonal colours; golden poplars and willow trees flank the lakes edge, starkly contrasting the blue water and rocky surrounds. There are plenty of places you can stop and take some beautiful autumn snapshots.