The Benmore Peninsula Track near Otemata on the South Island of New Zealand is a 3.6 km loop track around a peninsula offering stunning views of Lake Benmore, islands, and surrounding mountains as far as Mount Cook. Learn what to expect, how to get to the Benmore Peninsula, and see a video of experiencing the walk.
The Lake Benmore walk on the Benmore Peninsula Track is located above Benmore Dam and is a track that takes you through a forest and around a peninsula that juts out into Lake Benmore to view a large part of Lake Benmore, its islands, and the mountains beyond.
The Benmore Peninsula Track consists of two walks: You can do either the full circuit, which is a loop track, or you can go out to a lookout to see the islands of Lake Benmore and then return the same way.
The first walk is called the Peninsula Circuit, and the second walk is called Islands Lookout.
From Omarama, drive in the direction of Otematata on State Highway 83 on the South Island of New Zealand.
Once you reach Otematata, you’ll see a brown sign for the Benmore Dam. Turn left onto the road that goes to the Benmore Dam.
Drive past the Power Station and until the road starts climbing and reaches a junction.
When you reach the junction the road bends to the right, which will take you onto the road that goes over the top of the Benmore Dam.
Instead, turn onto the road that goes to the left. This will take you to a large parking lot above the Benmore Dam.
You’ll see gates and a DOC sign for the Benmore Peninsula Track on your left.
The starting point for the Benmore Peninsula Track is located at the second car park above the Benmore Dam near Otematata on the South Island of New Zealand.
The start of the walk is marked by gates and a DOC sign.
The walk starts out level. After a few minutes you’ll come to a junction, which marks the start of the Peninsula Circuit. The left track goes uphill, while the right track stays level for a while and then starts to climb.
You can go either right or left at the junction, but I suggest you do the walk in a clockwise direction, so go left at the junction. And here’s why…
The left track has only 3 major switchbacks before you reach a lookout where you can see Junction Island.
The left track is mostly a mixture of dirt and fine gravel, goes through a pine forest, and is steep in some places.
But the left track is less agonizing - in my opinion - than the right track, which consists of sometimes large rocks, rough gravel, and has quite a few high steps to climb up.
In addition, if you take the left track you’ll be rewarded with nice scenic views of Junction Island just after 20 – 25 minutes of uphill walking.
If you take the right track, you’ll have to deal with delayed gratification and views of the islands. The views of the right track are obscured by pine trees and poplars until you reach Junction Point.
But the positive thing about the right track is that you can see the road that goes over the Benmore Dam from between the pine trees.
The entire track goes through a mixed forest that has lots of pine trees, which smell really good on warm days – giving you the feeling of Christmas.
It can get a bit chilly, though, if you do this walk early in the morning in spring, autumn, or winter. So bring warm and windproof clothing.
In autumn, you’ll enjoy the occasional view of yellow poplars and trees on the hills surrounding Lake Benmore and also on the islands.
At Junction Point, which can be considered the half-way point of the loop track, you can see as far as Mount Cook and the Southern Alps on clear days.
The Lake Benmore Peninsula walk is one of my favorite walks on the South Island of New Zealand and one that I’ll most definitely repeat in the future. This walk is on my New Zealand must-do list.
I highly recommend doing this walk on a beautiful sunny day.
|Trail length:||3.6 km (2.2 mi)|
|Walking time:||1 hour 30 minutes|
|Difficulty:||Medium; the right flank of the loop track can be classified as hard|
|Trail type:||A mixture of dirt, gravel, rocks, boulders, and steps|
|Trail condition:||Average to good|
|Fitness level:||Moderate to high|
|Best time to walk:||Morning|
|What you’ll see:||Lake Benmore, Lake Benmore Islands, Mount Cook on clear days|
The following map shows the location of the start and end of the walk (the flag symbol). The trail you’ll have to follow approximately around the peninsula is indicated with a red line.
Use the plus and minus buttons to zoom in and out of the map and to see more or less detail on the map.
Figure 1. Map of the Benmore Peninsula Circuit walk, South Island, New Zealand.
The following 3-minute video gives you an impression of what to expect on this scenic walk around the Benmore Peninsula near Otematata on the South Island of New Zealand.
Note: This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm all details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.