Lake Benmore Peninsula walk
Get a detailed description of the Lake Benmore Peninsula track and see photos and a video of the stunning mountain and lake scenery offered by this 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.
How to get to the Lake Benmore Peninsula walk
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 Benmore Dam. Turn left onto the road that goes to 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 Benmore Dam.
Instead, turn onto the road that goes left. This road will take you to a large parking lot above Benmore Dam.
When you reach the parking lot, you should see gates and a Department of Conservation sign for the Benmore Peninsula Track on your left.
Walking the Benmore Peninsula Track
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 Department of Conservation sign [Photo: Benmore Peninsula Track DOC sign (58 KB)].
The walk starts out level. After a few minutes you’ll reach 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 [Photo: Trail junction at the start of the Benmore Peninsula Track (54 KB)].
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. Here’s why…
The left track has only three 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 [Photo: Benmore Peninsula Circuit western flank (59 KB)].
However, 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 walking uphill [Photo: Junction Island Lookout at Lake Benmore (36 KB)].
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 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 [Photos: Forest on the Benmore Peninsula Track (60 KB), Pine tree bark on the Benmore Peninsula Track (60 KB)].
It can get a bit chilly, though, if you do this walk early in the morning in spring, autumn, or winter, so carry 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 [Photo: Yellow autumn colors on the hills surrounding Lake Benmore (47 KB)].
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 [Photo: Junction Point Benmore Peninsula Track (31 KB); Southern Alps as seen from the Benmore Peninsula Track (19 KB)].
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.
Basic info for the Benmore Peninsula Circuit walk
|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 trail you’ll have to follow approximately around the peninsula is indicated with a black dashed line on this topographic map of the Benmore Peninsula Circuit walk (163 KB) [This work is based on/includes LINZ’s data which is licensed by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license].
Video of the Benmore Peninsula Circuit walk
This 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.
This article falls under Day Walks.
Note: Walking tracks and trails can be changed or get closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.