A day out with the Linkage Group, Twize

Posted June 1, 2018

It was a very great pleasure to provide transport for The Twizel Linkage Group on Wednesday 2nd May. We went to Benmore Dam and the surrounding area. Cycle Journeys provided the transport and driver-guide Geoff Venning for free to help support the local Twizel community. Lucky Libby, from admin, got to go along for the ride as well.

The whole group were treated to perfect weather, glorious autumn colours and stunning views of the Waitaki Valley.


Benmore Dam


First stop was at the newly created Benmore Park which Meridian have been creating. There’s a fantastic mural created by local artist Shane Leggie which depicts the history of the area.

Leggie's art work

Leggie's art work

From here the group went onto Benmore Power station where we were introduced to Kelvin Jopson, site manager for Mid Waitaki Meridian Energy and Mel Schauer, Engagement Manager for Meridian South Island. Kelvin gave us a fantastic guided tour of the dam where they learnt more about the history and about the daily operation of the dam. It was truly fascinating. 

Benmore is a hydro station located in the Waitaki Valley, New Zealand.

It has six 90 megawatt generating units and a generation output of up to 540 megawatts.

Benmore is the country’s second-largest hydro station after Manapōuri. It generates enough electricity each year for about 298,000 average New Zealand homes.

The Benmore power station is located on New Zealand’s largest manmade lake – Lake Benmore – and is New Zealand’s largest earth dam.

Building Benmore

Construction started in 1958. The lake was filled in December 1964, and the first power was produced in January 1965. 

Initially, Benmore was going to be a concrete dam like Waitaki, but advances in dam building techniques meant Benmore was able to be built using earth.

At the time of construction, the dam was the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and the project was the biggest of its kind in New Zealand.

Building a dam and a community

In October 1957 the plan to build the Benmore power station was approved in conjunction with the Cook Strait Cable. Work began to build a camp for the workers to live in.

The first group of about 150 men arrived in February 1958 to begin work on the dam. In August 1958 the first 11 shopkeepers The workforce consisted of Ministry of Works employees and contractors.

By the end of the year, there were over 450 workers living and working in Otematata. This was the start of significant growth in the small town.arrived to open stores to cater for the growing population.




Cable for electric


Benmore Penstock

We were provided with delicious lunch and heard more from Mel and Kelvin about their work with Meridian. We then got back on the Cycle Journeys bus and drove over the massive dam to view both Lake Benmore and Lake Aviemore. Many of the group members husbands had worked on building the dam so it brought back many touching memories which we were honoured to hear about.


View from the top

It was a fun day out and Cycle Journeys were pleased to be able to help the members of The Twizel Linkage Group reliving very special memories.

The group




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