Sailors Cutting to Benmore – Trail Development

The long awaited ‘missing link’ trail section from the Sailors Cutting camping ground through to Benmore Dam is open.

Make no mistake – this section is a real highlight of the A2O! At 16kms in length, it’s likely to take 3-4 hours of riding to cycle the entire 35km distance from Omarama to Otematata – when you are not racing and perhaps wanting to take time out to have a swim and relax a bit. The ride will feel remote – because it is! Cell phone coverage probably shouldn’t be relied on, so be self-contained and ready. Most importantly, be prepared to relax & enjoy, and smell the roses if you can find any.

Starting from the Sailors Cutting campground, the trail is wide and accommodating. For the first 4kms, it’s wide enough to ride two abreast as the trail climbs up to the low saddle above the Bach Bay – and then the easy cycle down to the lakefront. Eventually the trail narrows for the 4-5km middle section and riding becomes single file to accommodate two-way traffic.

The many bays just invite a stop and a swim, and the 30m span of the bridge will excite many. From here, riders regain the wider 4WD track on the Benmore section, which gradually climbs and climbs to the saddle above Benmore dam and Otematata.

From here the trail contours along the ridge and then descends to meet the Peninsula walking track and a beautiful finish onto the dam car park area. At present this section is being logged and may be closed – but the alternative is fine dropping to Loch Lard.

Sailors Cutting blog
Sailors Cutting blog
Sailors Cutting blog

The trail ride will be hot and I imagine in the height of summer it will be a serious matter to plan for. Wind will be another issue to be aware of, as the NW’er will blast through the peninsulas and islands of the lake.

Get excited and start to plan your ride. This trail from Omarama through to Benmore Dam and then down to Otematata will be a delight and should be on everyone’s summer bucket list!