Otaki Forks area

Image: Benhi Dixon | Creative Commons


Picnic at Boielle Flat, swim in the Waiotauru River, raft or kayak the Ōtaki River gorge, or enjoy short walks through Tararua Forest Park. Visitors can also see the steam powered sawmill at Sheridan Creek, which operated from 1930 to 1938.

Place overview


  • Toilets


  • Fishing
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Picnicking
  • Rafting
  • Swimming
  • Walking and tramping

Find things to do and places to stay Ōtaki Forks area

About this place

History and culture

Open river terraces and regenerating bush surrounding the forks reflect the farming and sawmilling history.

Sheridan Creek

The steam powered sawmill at Sheridan Creek, Ōtaki Forks, operated from 1930 to 1938. It was a shoestring operation and worker safety was not a priority. But during the depression employees were pleased to have a job.

Logs were brought down a bush tramway by a rail tractor, the route included the steepest grade (1 in 5) recorded on a bush tram. There were several accidents.

The operation closed unexpectedly in 1938 when a flood washed out the bridges. Much has survived and it is a relatively complete timber industry heritage site. The site is managed as a remote experience ‘discovery’ site.

Restoration work has included the rust arrest of the log hauler and timber mill boiler. Two sections of original tramway have been excavated, placed onto new sleepers and treated with metal preservatives. The turntable has also been rebuilt.

Getting there

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

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

Know before you go

Schoolhouse Flat camping area is set amongst bush and grassy terraces. Pay at caretaker’s house or on request.


Kapiti Wellington Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 4 384 7770
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   wellingtonvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   18 - 32 Manners Street
Postal Address:   PO Box 10420
The Terrace
Wellington 6143
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