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The Tararua Range provides the people of Wellington, Wairarapa, Horowhenua and Manawatu with an outstanding variety of tramping, hunting and walking opportunities in a wild, natural landscape at their back door.


At 116,535 ha it is the largest conservation park managed by DOC in the North Island.

The main entrances are:

  • Holdsworth on the Wairarapa/eastern side
  • Otaki Forks on the Kapiti/western side
  • Waiohine Gorge on the Wairarapa/southeastern side

Place overview


  • Camping
  • Climbing
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Mountain biking
  • Walking and tramping

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Tararua Forest Park

About track difficulties

    About this place

    Getting there

    Via Holdsworth

    Holdsworth is the main eastern entrance to the forest park.

    Turn off SH2 into Norfolk Road, 2 km south of Masterton. Follow signs to Tararua Forest Park, approximately 15 km from SH2.

    There is a daily rail connection and regular bus service between Wellington and Masterton (17 km from Holdsworth). Taxis or, for large parties, pre-booked buses, can be hired for travel between Masterton and Holdsworth.

    Via Waiohine Gorge

    Waiohine Gorge is a popular southeastern entrance to the forest park.

    Turn off State Highway 2 just south of Carterton into Dalefield Road. Follow the road signs indicating Tararua Forest Park. The road-end car park is approximately 15 km from State Highway 2. Waiohine Gorge Road is a winding, narrow gravel road with one ford crossing a stream.

    Via Otaki Forks

    Otaki Forks is the main western entrance to the Tararua Forest Park. 

    It is 19 km inland from Otaki township – approx. 1½ hour drive from Wellington or Palmerston North.

    Due to a slip, Otaki Forks is currently best accessed via the Otaki Forks emergency track. The track starts from the Shields Flat Historic Reserve carpark.

    Know before you go


    The Tararua Forest Park is often plagued by bad weather, and especially the open tops are exposed to cold southerlies, the cause of several fatalities over the years. Weather conditions can change very quickly, and trampers always need to be prepared for the worst conditions.

    Routes across the tops are recommended for experienced trampers only. Good navigation skills are required, as particularly in misty conditions route finding can be difficult. Always carry a map and compass and know how to use them or ensure you have at least one experienced person in your party.

    Weather for the Tararua Forest Park.


    Kapiti Wellington Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 4 384 7770
    Address:   18 Manners Street
    Full office details
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