Otematata is the original hydro construction site used for both the Benmore Dam and the Aviemore Dam. Many of the hydro houses now resident in Twizel came from here as the planned temporary nature of the accommodation was shipped out to fill the next need. Being only 24kms down the Waitaki Valley, the town doesn’t fit easily into a standard itinerary plan – but thats about to change. After several years of negotiation over land access, work on the new trail section from Sailors Cutting through to Benmore Dam via the many bays and headlands that have been formed by the Benmore Lake is about to start. Hopefully this will be completed by mid season 20/21 and while it doesn’t change the trail length much, it will significantly slow down the ride and make Otematata accommodation options much more of an imperative.
Within the village itself, the Valley Lodge is a secluded gem, offering small group hosted relaxation, under the hospitality of Anita and Rob.
What does Valley Lodge offer by way of accommodation now?
“We offer three bedrooms, two with their own ensuite and one with a private bathroom. All beds are super king and can be split into king singles. We can cater for guests dietary requirements for breakfast. The evening meal is booked in advance for guests at The Country Inn (CJs Restaurant and bar).”
What was your driver behind the development of your business and how long have you been running?
“Rob and I built the lodge in 2008 and began accommodating cyclists through Cycle Journeys in 2017. Rob was a ‘Dam’ baby and begun his schooling here in Otematata and we bought our first holiday here 28 years ago. We purchased the land here in 2000 and started to build beginning of 2008 at the same time of moving here with our two boys from Christchurch. Our sons have long fled the nest leaving us with a lodge sized house that we decided to share with guests on a commercial basis.”
What do you see that the Alps 2 Ocean trail has done for the Otematata community and how do you think the next trail development through the Benmore Gorge will impact on the town?
“The Alps 2 Ocean trail has bought not only new faces and visitors to Otematata, but growth and vibrancy into the village. The new trail through the Benmore Gorge is close to starting construction and it will be a ‘jewel in the crown’ in the middle section of the Alps to Ocean trail. There is concern amongst locals that the cyclists may not come back into Otematata for accommodation but rather than carry on through to Kurow. I think this means that we need to show the compelling reason to stay in town which is what we are working on.”
How have you enjoyed this new challenge and the clients you come in contact with?
“All guests that have stayed have being just brilliant and truly love their experience. We have received lovely comments in our visitors book and some have taken the time to write us personal letters and emails. One couple that stayed recently left here and two days later re booked another trip for next season – booked from Duntroon while still on the trail!”