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Historic Otaki – located at the northern edge of the Kapiti Coast and an easy 50-60 minute
drive north of Wellington – is a town of hidden treasures. The main township is a kilometre or so
west of State Highway 1, not, as most travelers assume, what they see as they pass through to or
The main town has a variety of shops catering for the needs of the mixed urban and rural
population, a modern library and a historical museum based in the old BNZ building. Service has a
friendly and inviting country feel to it.
Otaki Beach has always been popular as a summer holiday destination, and is a delight for casual
walking, picnics, swimming, fishing and surfing. At one time it was also valued by lovers of the
toheroa shellfish, before dwindling numbers led to a ban on their harvesting. The mouth of the Otaki
River provides excellent harbour for elusive seasonal whitebait.
New shops have revitalised the commercial area on the main highway. Factory outlets and specialty
stores such as Pumpkin Patch and Bendon attract large numbers of shoppers, especially at the
weekends when out-of-towners love to take a trip along the Kapiti Coast.
Otaki is renowned for its warm climate and lush gardens that provide fresh fruit and vegetables
at stalls dotted along the highway. It boasts a heated indoor swimming pool, an 18-hole golf course
and the oldest Maori Racing Club in existence.
The world’s oldest Maori church, Rangiatea, is a powerful reminder of New Zealand’s history.
It was built in 1844 with the support of the great Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha, who was based at
Otaki throughout much of his reign over central New Zealand in the mid-1800s. The church was razed
by fire in 1995 but has been rebuilt to the original specifications.
The town now also has a unique and rapidly expanding tertiary education campus at Te Wananga O
Raukawa, which is committed to equipping hundreds of young Maori students each year with the skills
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