With something for everyone Ōtaki is the ultimate Kāpiti destination. Take the weekend and explore the unique Māori heritage, take the kids fishing at the estuary, get adventurous in Ōtaki Gorge or shop 'til you drop in the outlet stores and township.
Strong Māori identity and history
Since the early 19th century, the area has been home to Māori of the Ngāti Raukawa iwi who migrated from the Kāwhia area from about 1819, under the leadership of the chief Te Rauparaha.
You can explore Māori heritage including the oldest Māori Anglican church in New Zealand, Rangiatea Church, by taking a self-guided walking tour of important Māori heritage sites on the Pipi Trail. You can pick up a Pipi Trail leaflet at the library on Main St in Ōtaki or at the small Ōtaki Museum where you can also discover the town's history.
The Māoriland Film Festival attracts thousands of people to this showcase of indigenous films from New Zealand and around the world. Over the past six years, the festival has grown to be the largest presenter of Indigenous screen content in the Southern Hemisphere with a year-round programme of events.
Shop 'til you drop
Ōtaki is known for the amazing shopping on offer both in the outlet stores on SH1 and in boutique stores in the village. For a different taste of culture, try the art and craft cooperative Artscape. The co-operative features pottery, quilting and textiles, paintings, mixed media, willow work, felting, jewellery, photography, and gift cards.
As well as retail stores, the Ōtaki area has a number of fruit and vegetable markets where you can purchase fresh seasonal produce, delicious preserves, sweet treats and even grab a coffee. Take the kids and pick your own strawberries, apples, chillies and more when they are in season! Penray Gardens and Brown Acres are just two of the properties that have been serving the Kāpiti Coast community and continue to make “the healthy delicious stuff affordable” (Brown Acres).
Get out and about
Kids will enjoy Haruātai Park with its swimming pool and outdoor splash pad. The estuary at the beach is also a great, easy place for children to catch their first fish. Or head to the Loco Miniature Railway just north of the town.
There are many trails on offer in the area that cater to all levels of experience as well as for walkers, cyclists and equestrian users. Check out Chrystalls Bend, Ōtaki Forks and Ōtaki River walks for examples of the best around!
Hiking or cycling not your thing? Established in 1901, Ōtaki Golf Club is the oldest Golf Club on the Kāpiti Coast. The club welcomes new members and caters for visiting groups as well as casual players wanting to take advantage of one of the cheapest rounds of golf on the Coast.
The Ōtaki-Māori Racing Club is now the only Māori racing club in New Zealand, and possibly one of a few truly indigenous horse racing clubs in the world. The club has enjoyed a long, colourful and successful history since its establishment in 1886. You don't have to be a racing-enthusiast to enjoy the races at this beautiful course. They also offer kids entertainment, top-notch food carts, music, and much more! So bring the kids and grandparents along for a great day out, throughout the year.
Ōtaki beach is home to the Epic Surf School and venue for the Ōtaki Kite Festival, which sees kites of all kinds each summer. Spectacular kites of all shapes, sizes and styles thrill those viewing from the beach, above the dunes and the Pavilion roof. Expect to be delighted by the sight of massive inflatable kites, stained glass window and bug kites through to tiny fluttering seagull kites.
Thrill seekers will want to head to Ōtaki Gorge for rafting, abseiling and tramping. Even the journey up Ōtaki Gorge is not for the faint-hearted. The road follows Ōtaki River, from the Horowhenua township of Ōtaki, towards the river’s source in the rugged Tararua Ranges.
The Ōtaki river is a great smaller West Coast fishery. With days and days of exploring ahead for anglers targeting brown trout in mellow riffles or the complete other end of the spectrum. Absolute isolated back country that is rarely fished beckons.