Otipi Road Trail

Be Set Free



At a glance  WEKA Jim 175121

  • Grade: Otipi Road is not the Motu Trails but if you want a challenging additional ride it's a remote adventure
  • From Toatoa it is 11km (22km return) on Takaputahi rd to Whitikau Forks then another 19km (38km return) on Otipi road to the Motu river
  • Time to ride: 3-7 hours return from Whitikau Forks
  • Start: Toatoa or Whitikau Forks, a 4WD vehicle is recommended if driving Motu Road
  • No mobile coverage
  • Otipi road peaks at 900m, is rough in places and is extremely isolated so experience and good preparation are critical.


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Otipi Road, in the Raukumura Forest Park, is a relic of hydroelectric explorations dating back to the 1950s-1960s. Today, the road is little-used aside from hunters, trampers, fishers and cyclists.

You must be prepared and take care on this ride as, at the far end, you're a very long way from the nearest house and over 60km from Opotiki.

Toatoa Farmstay makes an ideal base. If you’re camping, DOC’s Whitikau Forks campsite is right at the Otipi road start, at the confluence of the Whitikau stream and Takaputahi river.

To get to Otipi road, take the Motu Road from Opotiki and turn off at Toatoa onto Takaputahi road. The 11km to Whitikau Forks is flat, but narrow. At Whitikau Forks you cross the ford (impassable in high water) to Otipi Road and the climbing starts immediately. It's 4WD track the whole time and it gets broken in places.

The main climb from Whitikau Forks to Otipi peak is about 4km long. There are then big ups-and-downs before a drop of about 600 vertical metres to the Motu river. Unless you have a raft, the only way out is the way you came in.

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OTIPI summit 750563

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In the 1950s, hopes were to construct up to four dams on the Motu River. Otipi road was cut in to access one of the dam sites. The road was restored in the late-1970s for a second round of explorations, and restored again around 2012. It’s had no recent repair work.


Further reading

Gisborne Herald, The dams that never were




Be Set Free