Omarama to Kurow
Today was all about hydro electric plants. In fact each day had been leading up to this. The canals we had followed from lake to lake had all the water flowing this way, and today is where it all came through the Benmore Dam and hydro plant.
But before we got there we were treated to a nice section of purpose built bike track along a very pastoral upper arm of Lake Benmore. Alas the trail didn't last long and we were soon on the highway and climbing a hill, followed by a nice downhill into Otematata. Otematata had a nice cafe which was the perfect place for our second breakfast. It is a very scenic spot with great views of Lake Aviemore, which we would soon ride around one side of.
But first we had to get across Benmore Dam. The trail led out of Otematata at almost a right angle to the road we took in, as it followed a finger of the lake up to the dam. We were then on a nice gravel road which even had some trees, before getting on the sealed road for the big climb up the dam. It was steep and I may have had to stop and catch my breath part way up. This was the second largest hydro plant in New Zealand. I don't know about the largest. This one was certainly impressive enough.
After the dam there was a nice downhill and we were then on a quiet sealed road around the back side of Lake Aviemore. The map showed a couple of campgrounds on route and we considered staying at one if we liked it. What we saw was really interesting. Hundreds of caravans and campers parked all along the lake, with no people around. Evidently people just leave them there and come out on holidays or weekends. There was nothing all that inviting for tent campers so we continued on.
Eventually we got beyond the lake to Aviemore Dam, and then back on the highway for the last bit into Kurow. The wind was now howling a bit in our faces. There was a short climb to yet another hydro plant at Waitaki Dam, and then finally downhill into Kurow. There we found the Kurow Holiday Park and our home for the night.