Things to do in Waitaki


Trout and Salmon can be fished on Lakes Aviemore and Benmore all year round, except during September. Lake Waitaki and the Rivers can be fished from October through until April. From April to May the salmon are spawning, and this can be viewed from the Hakataramea bridge, 2 km from Kurow.

On April 19, 2002, a world record-breaking rainbow trout was pulled from the Tekapo B canal by an American anger, Mike Was.

Day Walks

Kurow Hill

Starts at the end of Grey Street (Motel corner) in Kurow, quite a steep climb. 45 minutes to the top, where there is a beautiful view over the Waitaki Valley.

Deep Stream Walk

Starts on the scenic drive around Lake Aviemore, near Aviemore Dam. Winds along the hills above Deep Stream until it reaches a flat area. 30 minutes one way.

Benmore Track

Starts from the lookout / car park above Benmore Dam. The track soon narrows to single file. After a short sharp climb along the zigzag track, a look-out is reached. There is a tremendous view up the Haldron Arm to Mt Cook. The track then circles round, giving a view across to Otematata, and finishes just below the car park.

Omarama Vineyard Walk

Walk up the hill behind the Omarama Vineyard. From the top is a glorious panoramic 360 degree view of the Mackenzie Country and nearby lakes. Allow 45 minutes for the round trip walk.


These areas are run on an honesty system. Registration booths and toilet facilities are provided in each area.

Lake Aviemore Camping Areas

Loch Laird
Parsons Rock
Briar Gully
Wildlife Reserve
Te Akatarawa
Fisherman’s Bend
Boat Harbour

Lake Benmore Camping Areas

Ohau C

Water Sports

Water sports of all sorts are popular on the lakes and Waitaki River. Lake Waitaki hosts a yachting regatta in January each year, and the national windsurfing championships are sometimes held there. Jet sprints are held on the lower Waitaki River.

People camping round the lakes bring yachts, power boats, jet skis, canoes and wind surfers to enjoy on the clear sparkling water.

Sky Gazing

Cloud Formations

The climate of the Waitaki area is dry, with little rainfall. However the turbulent winds that spring up during the afternoon give rise to huge variations in cloud formations.  Many of the sunrises and sunsets are stunning.


There’s something missing from the Waitaki district … people!! That means this area is not congested, there are no traffic jams, and it’s a great place for star-gazing – there’s very little light pollution. Night skies are generally clear.

At night, the clearest skies in the country can be seen at the University of Canterbury Observatory, Mt John, or the Cowan’s Hill Observatory, both near Tekapo.


Weather conditions around Omarama create fantastic thermals and excellent gliding conditions.

Find out more at and

Vanished World Fossil and Geological Trail

Follow the Vanished World Fossil and Geological Trail from Duntroon to Waianakarua on the East Coast.

Visit Anatini, near Elephant Rocks, and the recently uncovered baleen whale bones near Duntroon.

One of the displays at the Vanished World visitor centre.

The Vanished World visitor centre in Duntroon features displays of rocks and fossils of the area.

Learn about the unique dolphin that swam in the waters above what is now Otematata.

The University of Otago’s Geology Department is proud to support the Vanished World Trail.

Kurow Museum and Information Centre

Built in 1880, the building was constructed as a dance hall detached from the Kurow Hotel – music and dancing were not permitted in hotels, and they were no place for women.

Now the Visitor Centre, visitors to the town can learn about the history of Kurow, and get information on things to do and see in the Waitaki Valley.

Social Security
The Museum is the venue of New Zealand’s National Museum of Social Security.

See first hand how our forefathers coped with life. With over 2,000 photographs and exhibits we tell a story that is unique to the Pioneer Waitaki Valley, but that is also true of the European settlement throughout New Zealand.

Complementing the Duntroon Vanished World Centre, our Museum caries interesting exhibits including a cast of the Kekendon Onamata’s teeth (Maori for seal), fossilised seashells and shark’s teeth, a fly embedded in Kauri Gum and examples of `Dactylanthus’ (wood flowers).

There are artifacts from our pre-European predecessors whose history is not being told elsewhere.

During the sixties, Kurow was the home of a well-respected art school, and its legacy remains to this day. The Waitaki Valley is home to some of New Zealand’s greatest artists. At the gallery we present regularly changing exhibits by current and historical artists. Many of these are offered for sale through the exhibit or our Gallery shop.

Available here are some unique and exclusively Waitaki Valley products. Along with paintings, pottery and sculptures there are local Honey and Lavender products, hand-knitted jumpers. All products are high quality.

Sheep Shearing Show

Visit The Wrinkly Rams in Omarama, and see a live sheep shearing demonstration using traditional Blade and Machine Shearing methods.

Check out the gift shop, art gallery and café wine-bar while you’re there.

Other Activities

Cycling, hiking, horse riding, 4 wheel driving, historic buildings, pre-European drawings, arts and crafts, salmon hatchery,  visit the Clay Cliffs, wineries …. the list just goes on and on!