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Introduction

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.

Highlights

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

Activities

  • Camping
  • Climbing
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Walking and tramping
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Find things to do and places to stay Tararua Forest Park

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      Getting there

      Via Holdsworth

      Holdsworth is the main eastern entrance to the forest park.

      Turn off State Highway 2 on to Norfolk Road, 2 km south of Masterton. This leads to Mount Holdsworth Road. Holdsworth is 15 km from State Highway 2. 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. The easiest turn-off from State Highway 1 is at Otaki Gorge Road, just south of the State Highway 1 bridge over the Otaki River. The last 5 km of the Otaki Gorge Road is unsealed, narrow and windy – please drive carefully.

      There are daily bus and rail connections to Otaki township. A taxi service is available in Otaki.

      Know before you go

      Weather

      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.

      Contacts

      Wellington Office
      Phone:      +64 4 470 8412
      Email:   wellington@doc.govt.nz
      Full office details
      Whakaoriori / Masterton Office
      Phone:      +64 6 377 0700
      Email:   masterton@doc.govt.nz
      Full office details
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