Water Nomads Spot Guide
In the New Zealand windsurfing scene, Lake Aviemore is possibly the best known lake in the South Island. Out of all the lakes that we visit during our Canterbury Lakes Discovery Trip, it is the only one with and active windsports scene.
In this spotguide we give you the run down on what you can expect at Lake Aviemore.
Geography and amenities of Lake Aviemore:
Lake Aviemore is a hydro lake located in the Upper Waitaki Valley. It is very popular for boating, fishing and camping. The closest settlement to Lake Aviemore is Otematata at its Northern end where you will find some accommodation, a small dairy, a petrol station and a pub. The next (small) supermarket is in Omarama and the next big supermarket is in Oamaru. So come prepared with your supplies if you want to stay for a while.
There are a number of basic campgrounds along the lakeshore with boat access. The most popular campground for windsport enthusiasts is Waitangi West. A good crew of windsurfers, kiters and wingers from Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown gather there every year over summer. Despite most of the campground being occupied by seasonal users, you should be able to find a spot for casual camping as long as you are not there between Christmas and New Years.
Wind and water conditions:
Lake Aviemore is well known in the windsports community for it’s reliable Easterly thermals in summer. It is usually glassy in the morning, perfect for waterskiing and fishing. From early afternoon the thermals start to pull and you can get up to 25knots of wind coming up the valley, depending on the temperature difference between the coast (Oamaru) and inland (Omarama). The bigger the difference, the stronger the wind. Usually you get around 18-20knots with the water being relatively flat. The chop gets bigger with increasing wind.
The water temperature isn’t too bad neither with around 20 degrees in summer.
Rigging area and water access:
State Highway 83 runs along the Southwest side of the Lake, a small sealed road (Te Akatarawa Road) runs along the other side and services all the campgrounds.
Best access is from the Waitangi West Campground. Rigging is on grass, with trees for shade and shelter. If you are here during a weekend in summer you most likely will bump into some other windsurfer or foiler for company.
Along SH83 there are a few access points, with the best one being here. However, it is a bit tricky to get down there with a big camper, and traffic on the highway moves quick. The rigging is on hard dusty grass, no shelter from wind or sun on this side.
Although it is the most popular lake of all of the lakes we are visiting during our Canterbury Lakes Discovery Trip, I wouldn’t call it crowded. The lake has plenty of room for you and the other 15 people on the water! It might not even be that many unless you are there during a busy summers weekend. During the week you are most likely on your own.
If you like travelling European style, with camping right on the spot and a little bit of company, then Lake Aviemore is perfect for you. It’s a beautiful place with a stunning campsite. You can even leave your gear rigged up over night!