It’s not a huge distance, but it’s a world away from Otaki village famed for its retail outlets, nor is it far away from the recently completed Paraparaumu motorway where vehicles zip past day and night, but once again, it’s a world away

The Otaki Gorge, tucked away in the foothills of the Tararua Ranges a little more than an hour away from Wellington, is simply beautiful with its wide rivers, mature native trees, varied birdlife and grassy riverside areas.

A rocky stream wends its way through verdant native bush

The road to the Gorge starts off along a sealed road bounded by attractive lifestyle blocks, after which a lengthy green tunnel of overhanging trees lures you onwards. But once the seal ends, the road becomes – to put it politely – challenging. Winding along the steep, narrow and slip-prone road that has a drop on one-side going way down to the river below, is not for the faint-hearted.

For the last part of the 15km drive from the state highway to the gorge, it feels like you’ve been on the road for a while. It’s hard to get up any sort of speed and each corner brings the potential for an interesting encounter with any vehicles driving from the opposite direction. Part of the road was closed for seven months from December 2015 due to a huge slip, but to give the Kapiti Coast District Council its dues, they were onto it and smartly undertook the massive task of reinstating the road so that the two households who were most affected had their access reinstated.

At least four different epiphytes have made a home for themselves on this old tree

DOC also helped by putting in a walkable diversion for campers and trampers, and by flying in airdrops when necessary.

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