Which lake got the most love?

A competition to find the best picnic spot in the Upper Waitaki area, run by Love Our Lakes, has revealed a closely fought battle between Lakes Benmore and Aviemore, with Aviemore just taking the lead in popularity.

More than 160 entries, many with beautiful photos attached, were in the draw to win a picnic prize pack, with the randomly-chosen winner (who chose both Benmore and Aviemore!) announced earlier this week.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the top places that felt the ‘love’.

Lake Aviemore wins top spot for picnics

Lake Aviemore

Lake Aviemore proves the most popular for picnic spots in Upper Waitaki

The lake won the top spot because of its wide variety of options that cater for fishers, boaters, campers, bird-spotters and day-trippers from nearby towns like Timaru, Waimate and Oamaru.

"Around the shore of Lake Aviemore is absolutely breath-taking and beautiful."

Loch Laird, the popular Aviemore swimming and kayaking site just below the Benmore Dam, had many mentions.

"So many memories camping, water skiing, fishing, and stories around the campfire while we toasted marshmallows on sticks."

The recently restored Ōtematata Wetlands also proved a hit:

"Lake Aviemore - on the shoreline of the Ōtematata Wetlands Walkway. Just magical. Beautiful in any season."

Parson’s Rock was also a favourite.

"Sit under willows, swim, picnic table right there."

Other top Aviemore spots were Waitangi Reserve, Sailors Cutting, and Deep Stream.

Lake Benmore a close second

Lake Benmore

Lake Benmore is popular for water sports

Just a few votes behind, Lake Benmore was also a hit for water sports and fishing.

"We love Lake Benmore. It's so much fun wakeboarding and fishing over summer."

Pumpkin Bay, not too far from the town of Ōmarama, proved a popular Benmore spot for its grassy beach area.

"Lots of shade on offer, lots of wee spots to paddle."

The slightly more remote Falstone Creek area was also was a top pick.

"We went to Falstone Creek the family all loved it, going out in the boat fishing, tenting and barbecues. We went up there for years and loved it."

Other top spots in Upper Waitaki

Lake Pūkakī was top of the list for scenery but seems to require a bit more stamina for swimming.

"Cannot beat lake Pūkakī for stunning views! Always a bit fresh but worth a dip any time of year."

"Lake Pūkakī! Can’t beat a good chiller dip to get the blood pumping! Gorgeous views for a picnic and cup of tea too!"

Lake Ōhau was another strong contender, particularly the nearby Temple Valley area for walking and hiking.

Lakes Tekapo/Takapō, Ruataniwha and Alexandrina also had many fans. 

Love Our Lakes campaign

The competition was organised as part of the Love Our Lakes promotional campaign to encourage recreational lake users to respect the environment. It is run by the locally-based Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee, who focus on protecting water quality.

Other activity this summer has included reminding people to use public toilets and organising extra toilets for the busy Lake Ruataniwha recreation spot.

If you’d like to read more detail about the history of some of the Upper Waitaki Lakes, check out: