Benmore Peninsula Track Beginner
Submitted by Mike Tennent
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Front country - easily accessible
Plantation/exotic forestLakesideOpen tussock/grasslandsOpen ridges/tops
The track is pretty straight forward, we did it anti-clockwise which I would recommend. To get the most out of the trail keep taking the right-hand option at each intersection. At one stage this will take you out along a ridge to the best lookout spot where you pause your Garmin and take in the views. At another point after that the trail off to the right is easy to miss so be alert.
Also around this point the main trail appears to take a sharp left hand turn and a less defined trail goes right... still take the right one onto a nice bit of semi-technical trail with some more great views.
Finally... especially if it is hot, when you get back to the carpark fence, take a sharp left down the last bit of hill to the lake where you can add a bit of distance, soak your legs and then add a bit more vert climbing back up the hill to the car.
Features of interest
You get an overview of the Benmore Dam, which is the largest Earth Dam in the country and the largest in the Waitaki System. But the real highlight is the view down the Eastern end of Lake Benmore with (on a fine day) Mount Cook visible in the distance.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 0%
Technical Single Track: 10%
Moderate Single Track: 60%
Easy Single Track: 30%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 0%
Gravel Road: 0%
Sealed Road: 0%
Otematata is on the road from S.H.1 just north of Oamaru that takes you through to Omarama. Once you reach Otematata take the clearly signposted road to Benmore Dam, drive up the road almost to the Dam itself, but just before you swing right onto the dam, take the road to the left that is signposted to the Dam lookout. The trail is clearly signposted at the Lookout carpark.
Parking is on sealed carpark, but is only as safe as any other tourist carpark in the country. Take valuables with you or hide them very well.
All the turns will take you back to the start, the trail is enclosed on a peninsula, however to get the most from the trail follow my instructions above.
Thermal leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map.
On the actual track there is no water... only at the end... while the lake is pretty much always visible, getting down to it is not safe for most of the route
Only run it the once on a gorgeous summer day... think it would be pretty runnable all year long... but I would imagine in winter it could get very very cold and wet and icy.
The footing in a few places requires care as the fall would be long and painful.
Post run indulgence
Wrinkly Ram Cafe
Eaten there several times and never be let down. My running partner on the day had the same suggestion even though it was 24km from the run in the opposite direction to the one we needed to head home.
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