Aviemore Dam

The Aviemore Dam is a dam of the Waitaki River in New Zealand. Built from earth and concrete in the 1960s (and completed in 1968)[1] to dam Lake Aviemore, it is one of the major dams of Meridian Energy, and is used to power a hydroelectric power plant.[2] It is a part of the Waitaki River Hydroelectric System, a scheme which supplies 30% of New Zealand's considerable amount of hydropower.[3]

Aviemore Dam
The dam as seen from the northern side
Official nameAviemore Dam
LocationCanterbury/Otago, New Zealand
Construction began1962
Opening date1968
Operator(s)Meridian Energy
Dam and spillways
ImpoundsWaitaki River
CreatesLake Aviemore


Composite structure

The dam is located over unequal ground underneath, due to the line of the Waitangi Fault. On the northern side in Canterbury, the dam is founded on solid rock, and consists of a 335-metre (1,099 ft)-long concrete structure. On the southern side in Otago, the dam crosses the fault as a 457 metres (1,499 ft) long earth dam. During the construction of the concrete section, low-heat cement was first used in a large-scale application in New Zealand, to allow quick concrete pouring without the need for cooling elements.[4]

Hydroelectric facilities

The dam contains 4 francis turbines of 55 megawatts (74,000 hp) each (220 megawatts (300,000 hp) total), with the generators being 4 x 11 kV. The facility produces approximately 942 gigawatt-hours (3,390 TJ) of electricity per year. The net hydraulic head is 37 metres (121 ft), with the penstocks (water pipes leading to the turbines) being the largest in New Zealand (as of 2007), with 7 metres (23 ft) diameter each.[4] It is in waitaki

Seismic strengthening

In the 2000s (decade), work was undertaken to strengthen the dam against earthquake forces and to reduce the effect of overtopping resulting from earthquake-induced landslides into Lake Aviemore, as the dam straddles the Waitangi Fault, which at the time of construction had been considered inactive, but has since been upgraded to dormant. The analysis and design was undertaken by Opus New Zealand and URS New Zealand, who received an ACENZ Innovate NZ Silver Award for their safety evaluation & upgrade.[2]


  1. "Aviemore hydro dam". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2007-08-09. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  2. Aviemore Dam Seismic Safety Evaluation & Upgrade - Innovate NZ, Brochure of the '2007 ACENZ Awards of Excellence', Page 13
  3. "Aviemore Dam". URS. Archived from the original on 2006-03-13. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  4. "Introducing Aviemore" (PDF). Meridian Energy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2007-10-10.

Further reading

  • Martin, John E, ed. (1991). People, Power and Power Stations. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books Ltd and Electricity Corporation of New Zealand. pp. 316 pages. ISBN 0-908912-16-1.
  • Sheridan, Marion (1995). Dam Dwellers – End of an Era. Twizel: Sheridan Press. pp. 392 pages. ISBN 0-473-03402-6.