Otaki Forks is the primary western entrance to the tararua Forest national Park.
There is a wide range of activities here including campibg sites, picnic sites, short and longer walks (1/2 hr to 3 1/2 hr's), swimming holes, and wnetrance to the forest park proper for longer tramps. Access to the many huts in the forest park can be made from here as well.
Rangiâtea Church in Otaki, New Zealand was the oldest Mâori Anglican church in New Zealand.
This church is well worth a visit. there are many historical facts here that make it interesting. IE :- Queen Victoria donated an alter frontal, Inia TeWiata also donated and designed one. He is actually burried in the church yard
In 1848, Te Rauparaha who had just returned to Otaki from Australia, issued the challenge of building the church to the chief of Te Wehiwehi, who accepted. Rangiâtea Church was built under the direction of Te Rauparaha and English missionary Octavius Hadfield.
During the original construction in the 1840s, large tôtara logs had to be floated down rivers at nearby Ohau and Waikawa. The logs became the ridge pole and the central pillars of the church. The rafters, pillars and slabs were also made from tôtara.
The design of the church is unique in that it incorporates ideas from both English and Mâori church design.
Originally completed in 1851, the building was burnt down by an arsonist in 1995, and by 2003 the church had been completely rebuilt.
It was a very moving thing for me to find the graves of my great grandparents. They died in the 30s, I never met them. And there was a plaque for a man called Dick ( a brother, maybe?) who died in the Great War in 1918. And his wife Daisy, who died two months later. Maybe in the flu pandemic?
And then I found the graves of great aunts Vi and May - who I remember meeting as a child. The connection was made. My ancestors.
A word of warning. Cafes shut up shop really early. It was a cold, wet miserable day and my bus left at 5-45pm. So I found a coffee bar in the township with a comfy sofa and prepared to settle in. But then the floor was being swabbed etc and I was told they closed at 4. Golly, that's early.
So I walked up to the highway and all the cafes - including the one I had had breakfast at, were closed or closing.
When it was too late I did spot one on the side street near the railway station.
I had wondered why there were two small coffee stands one at each end of the town on opposite sides of the road - open early and still open as I left - when there were so many cafes in town. But now I know. They were doing a roaring trade but no where to sit in out of the wind.
The Riverstone where I had my brekky was nice but just a tiny criticism. My spinach and cheese roulade hadn't been put in the microwave for long enough so half of it was frigid.
... from the top of the hill by the war memorial I saw more graves down in the valley. So I set off cross country along the ridge and found a useful style over the fence - and found some ancient graves, and some recent graves, lovingly decorated with coloured pebbles and glass flowers and teddy bears and all manner of decoration ... (but many Maori names so I was not hopeful because my ancestors were Italian and Irish) ...
If you have relatives buried here then they will be registered on the Kapiti cemeteries website.
There are many really old graves here, which is why I kept searching for my ancestors even though they they weren't on the register.
Eventually I asked at the library and found there were at least four burial sites in Otaki.
PS Many pukeko sightings to be had in this area. What a beautiful bird with the dark blue plumage and red legs.
Because my great grandmother and father were both catholics, she was Italian and he was Irish, I had reckoned for sure I would find them in the convent cemetery as I had had no luck in the public cemetery.
But no joy.
I paused and admired the view. The rainclouds were gathering again. Though the climate in Otaki must be better than in Wellington because I had noticed the first daffodils were out in the gardens.
I walked up the hill to the convent cemetery but it was just the burial sites for the religious who had served in the convent. Plus a depiction of the crucifixion as a war memorial for the boys from the attached school. There was a sign on the gate asking visitors to close it because of the sheep who kept the grass down. And there were signposts for the Stations of the Cross all the way. I found that interesting. Never seen them before.
This little guy was guarding the time capsule on the lawn of St Mary's Catholic Church until 2050. I had a quick think and reckoned I probably wouldn't be around then.
But I was curious about what had been put in the capsule for the future to wonder about.
This convent, church and marae have been beautifully restored. Well worth a look.
On Convent Road which starts off as Te Rauparaha Road. Must be some connection to Te Rauparaha (famous Maori chief) in this area because I walked past a monument to him.
But I was after the convent cemetery on the little hill next to it. Looking for the graves of my ancestors.
Accomodation- Restaurants - Bars.
I was so cold and wet and tired I really had to have a strengthening whisky - so I popped into this pub and really really liked it. (It is in the main township halfway between the highway and the beach.) Agreeable staff, one of the best smoking areas I have found. Quaint, old fashioned atmosphere. A little run down, but not seedy.
Unlike the third pub in town which was on the catty corner. That is called the Telegraph and I was scared of it. It had an entrance that looked like a mouth full of broken teeth.
Anyway, I asked the barmaid about accomodation and she was evasive. It appears to be cheap, maybe $25 for a single, but it is for groups. It seems. Like rugby teams. Who would obviously spend up big in the bars.
But no harm in asking for accomodation. I am sure they would warn you if they had a couple of rugby teams in.
My great aunts, Vi, May and Phyllis used to run this cinema. I just remember visiting it and them as a child.
Now it is a playhouse, again. It used to be a playhouse apparently.
On a slow night in Otaki might be fun to go and see the local amateurs. I noticed they had a play on called The Country? This Country? Something like that.
And it got many of them. It now appears to be outlet central. I noticed - Bendon, Pumpkin Patch, Kumfs, Katmandu, Norsewear - oh, too many to remember. All in the main drag through the town. If you liked shopping it would be worth while stopping for an hour or two or three as you head north. Or south.
Next to the deserted railway station. One of three hotels in town. Offers budget accomodation, but I emailed them to see if I could stay there and they never replied. I am rather glad because it looked rather sinister and down at heel. Think they are going for the itinerant trade, and sporting groups.
I noticed a motel - the Otaki Motel - on the highway a short distance away. Looked more salubrious.
There are two basketmakers in Rahui Road just off the highway, almost opposite the info centre.
Any small town in NZ would have its share of artisans, potters and weavers and blacksmiths and etc etc. That's just the way it is.