Otaki Forks area
Image: Benhi Dixon | Creative Commons


Picnic at Boielle Flat, swim in the Waiotauru River, raft or kayak the Otaki 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


  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Swimming
  • Walking and tramping


  • Toilets

Find things to do and places to stay Otaki Forks area

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The Waiotauru River has several safe swimming pools.

Kayaking and canoeing

The Otaki River Gorge is popular for rafting and kayaking. It is a grade 2 river. 

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    About this place

    History and culture

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

    Sheridan Creek

    The old log hauler at Sheridan Creek. Photo: Richard Nester.
    The old log hauler at Sheridan Creek

    The steam powered sawmill at Sheridan Creek, Otaki 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

    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.

    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
    Email:   wellingtonvc@doc.govt.nz
    Address:   18 - 32 Manners Street
    Full office details
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