Ōtaki is an area with lots of attractions for visitors.
Ōtaki has so much to see and do. It's a hidden gem in the greater Wellington region. But many attractions are not obvious to visitors who might only know Ōtaki for its great outlet shops and cafes as they pass through on State Highway 1.
It has three district areas, each with its own unique character and attractions. The part most visitors experience is the strip of outlet and speciality shops and cafes along State Highway 1. But turn off the highway and you will find Ōtaki town, the community and cultural hub of the area. It's the home of Ngati Raukawa iwi who migrated from the Kāwhia area in 1819 under the leadership of the great Māori warrior Te Rauparaha. It's also the home of Te Wānanga o Raukawa, the Māori university and several historic buildings and churches.
After a wander through history, you can relax at the beach, the third destination for a true Ōtaki experience. Here you will find classic Kiwi baches, great fishing, horse riding, surfing, cycle paths and a safe beach with an active surf lifesaving club.
Close by is Tararua Forest Park, the largest conservation park in the lower North Island which offers an outstanding variety of tramping, hunting and walking opportunities in a wild, natural landscape. Access to the park via Ōtaki Gorge Road is currently not possible due to the instability of a slip-prone bank near the end of the road. However, for keen trampers, you can get to the park from the end of Mangone South Road, Reikorangi (25km, 6-8 hr walk). There is also access via the Wairarapa side - more information here.
The historic settlement of Te Horo is also within a few minutes drive of Ōtaki and is now home to abundant gardens and fruit and vegetable growers.