Benmore Dam on the South Island

Get info about and see photos and a video of Benmore Dam in the Waitaki Valley on the South Island of New Zealand.

What and where is Benmore Dam?

Benmore Dam and the Benmore power station are located in the Waitaki Valley on the South Island of New Zealand.

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Benmore Dam is one of the largest dams on the Southern Hemisphere, and Benmore power station is New Zealand’s second largest hydro power station.

Benmore Dam is 110 meters (361 ft) high, 832 meters (2730 ft) long at the top, 448 meters (1470 ft) wide at the bottom, and 11 meters (36 ft) wide at the top.

The dam consists of a mixture of clay and gravel as its core, supported by two massive shoulders of river gravel with an outer layer of rock at its sides.

Above Benmore Dam lies Lake Benmore, which has a surface of 74.5 square km, a shoreline of 116 km (72 mi), and under normal maximum levels holds 1.5 times as much water as Wellington Harbour.

The spillway of Benmore Dam, which is about 500 meters (1,640 ft) long and 55 meters (180 ft) wide on average, can discharge an amount of water that is 10 times the amount of the river flow. Water running down the spillway is deflected at the bottom into a wide arc to dissipate its energy before entering the river.

How to get to Benmore Dam

The turnoff for Bemore Dam is located on State Highway 83, about 25 km (16 mi) from Omarama.

Spillway of Benmore Dam on the South Island of New Zealand

Therefore, you can get to Benmore Dam by driving to Omarama, either from the North via Lake Tekapo from Christchurch, for example, or from the South via Lindis Pass and from places like Wanaka and Queenstown.

Once you reach Omarama, drive in eastern direction for 25 km (16 mi) on State Highway 83 towards Otematata until you see the turnoff for Benmore Dam (Loch Laird Road) on the left side of the highway.

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You can also get to Benmore Dam from the eastern end of State Highway 83 coming from State Highway 1 and Kurow and then driving in western direction towards Otematata until you reach the turnoff for Benmore Dam.

Alternatively, there is an earlier turnoff you can take between Lake Waitaki and Lake Aviemore that crosses a bridge and then follows a backroad to Benmore Dam.

Why visit Bemore Dam?

The color of the lakes in the Waitaki Valley (Lake Benmore and Lake Aviemore) alone are worth paying Bemore Dam a visit.

You can also visit Benmore Dam and take a walk or drive across the top of the dam. If you want to enjoy views of Lake Benmore, I highly recommend going for a walk on the Benmore Peninsula Track.

On top of Benmore Dam on the South Island of New Zealand

Benmore Dam on the South Island of New Zealand

Video of Benmore Dam

The following video was shot while standing on a viewing platform near Benmore Dam on a sunny day in autumn.

If you look closely, you’ll see a few yellow trees in the area as a sign of the beginning of autumn in New Zealand.

 

Note: Places can change and/or become inaccessible. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.

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