Lake Benmore On The South Island In Autumn

Get info about and see photos of the incredibly blue water of Lake Benmore and autumn foliage on surrounding hills on the South Island of New Zealand.

What And Where Is Lake Benmore?

Lake Benmore is New Zealand’s largest man-made lake and was formed behind the Benmore power station.

Lake Benmore is 74.5 square km (28.8 square mi) and has a shoreline of 116 km (72 mi) in length. The lake holds 1.5 times more water than Wellington Harbour.

Lake Benmore is located in the Waitaki district in the Canterbury and Otago regions on the South Island of New Zealand.

This district also hosts a river, the Waitaki River, and two other lakes, Lake Aviemore and Lake Waitaki.

The northern end of Lake Benmore can also be reached from Mcaughtries Road near Lake Ruataniwha, just south of Twizel, not far from Lake Pukaki.

The entire region provides good photo opportunities during autumn because it is one of the 5 best places for fall foliage in New Zealand.

Lake Benmore

How To Get To Lake Benmore

The closest town to Lake Benmore is Otematata. The turnoff to Lake Benmore is approximately 25 km (16 mi) from Omarama. So you can get to Lake Benmore by driving to Omarama.

There are three ways to get to Omarama:

  1. From the north when coming from, for example, Tekapo or Twizel.
  1. From the south after passing through Lindis Pass.
  1. From the east when hooking off State Highway 1 coming from, for example, Christchurch, Ashburton, Timaru, or Dunedin.

If you are driving from the east in western direction on State Highway 83, you will reach Lake Benmore before you reach Omarama.

When driving from Omarama, it should take you approximately 25 – 35 minutes on State Highway 83 to get to Lake Benmore; I usually drive it in 20 minutes.

State Highway 83 is deserted most of the time, not because there isn’t much to see there, but because most tourists opt to drive via State Highway 8 to see Lake Pukaki and visit Lake Tekapo when driving to and from Christchurch.

Lake Benmore

Why Visit Lake Benmore?

Lake Benmore is the kind of lake of which your eyes cannot get enough, because its color is a unique blue. Autumn is a magical time to visit Lake Benmore, which is then surrounded by yellow poplars on the hills and on the peninsula.

I typically visit Lake Benmore just to relax, do nothing, or drive around. But you can also visit Lake Benmore to walk the Benmore Peninsula Track or to see the Benmore Dam.

Or you can follow the backroad (Te Akatarawa Road) that skirts Lake Aviemore and go for a leisurely drive around the lake.

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