This weekend is the Wellington Anniversary and a 3 day weekend. We thought of going camping but then the weather was not all that great for camping. So we thought of going for a day trip to a nice spot.
We have passed the Otaki Forks turn off several times going up north but never knew what the actual place was like until a friend said it had a good campsite and a picnic spot. The Otaki Forks, obviously in Otaki (90 minute drive from Wellington), is the main western entrance to the Tararua Forest Park. Two tributaries, the Waiotauru River and Waitatapia Stream, meet the Otaki River here, and hence the name.
The forks is about 20km from SH1 and the journey is half the fun or shall I say half the adventure. The Department of Conservation officer I met told me that it was perfectly alright for a car to get there and I had confirmation of this from a work colleague who has been there. So off we went. After about 15km in the Otaki Gorge Road, we had to do a "river crossing" which we thought was so weird. The river actually flowed over a sealed road into the other side falling straight down a ravine.
Okay, that was adventerous, but not that bad we thought. Then immediately after that thought crossed our minds, we came across a sign that said "gravel road ahead". Now that got me worried as there were no indication as to how long the gravel road was and whether cars could use it. We waited for a few minutes, not a soul in sight. We whipped out our cell phone, just in case we needed to call AA. No signal bars on the cell! Since we had two confirmation that it was okay, we went aead.
The gravel road was actually not too bad. It was pretty much like this all the way with a small kilometre or so stretch of sealed road in between. After driving like we thought we were almost lost, we saw a sign "Picnic Area" and a DOC sign board. We took the turn off and came to the most beautiful picnic area I have seen.
The grass was green and the river just next to the grass area was so inviting. The water was crystal clear and they even has a toilet that flushed. It did not have hot water though but that wasn't too bad. There were about 4 other families there but the place was really big.
We later went into the river for a dip only to find out the water temperature was 15.1 deg C, or at least that's what my trusted Casio said. We braved the cold and went in. It was so refreshing. There were seveal deep pools suitable for kids as well as adults.
There are several bush walks from here from 20 minutes to several days cutting across the ranges. All the walks start from across the river on this bridge.
We did not attempt any on this trip as we were not geared for any sort of walking. With the wild weather last few months, some of the walks aren't actually that safe for now.
However, this picnic spot is very safe and we will be back when the weather is better. Afterall it is only an hour's drive from home to the picnic spot and is really great!