Ōtaki, the northernmost pearl in the district’s string of townships, is poised for economic growth and expansion as its political leaders push for advancements in ultra-fast broadband, new public transport services and attracting job-creating industries.
Furthermore, the historic town with its many cultural and recreational attractions is expected to benefit hugely from the construction of a national road corridor that will seamlessly link it with the capital.
Ōtaki Ward Councillor and resident Penny Gaylor believes Ōtaki has a very bright future and is set to play a major part in the “thriving, vibrant and diverse” community Council wishes to create as part of its long term plan.
“With progressive businesses and educational facilities such as Te Wānanga o Raukawa and Ōtaki College, Ōtaki is primed to grow and prosper with the benefits national infrastructure will bring.
“It has a rich history, is affordable, and with amenities such as the skate and scooter park, swimming pool, beach and river, is a great place to raise kids. We just need to get that message out there.”
Councillor Gaylor and the Ōtaki Community Board are doing their best to do just that Ð to make visitors aware of how much more the town has to offer as a tourist destination and as an affordable and fun place to live. Board chair and local business owner, James Cootes says selling that message is key.
“People who stop to shop on SH1 often don’t know how much there is to see and experience off the highway. We want them to make a side trip and visit the beach, the town centre with its rich Māori influence and heritage buildings and Ōtaki Forks, the gateway to some of the best day walks and tramps in the country.”
James Cootes says, as part of a pilot that will eventually rolled out to the rest of the district, Ōtaki is about to launch a new way of providing visitor information.
“Information map/panels are being developed and will be placed along the shopping strip on SH1 to show visitors all the things there are to do and see off the highway,” says Mr Cootes.
“The idea is to provide enough compelling information to persuade people to take a diversion, stay longer and be interested enough to come back.”
James Cootes believes Ōtaki has evolved from a town that used to be easy to bypass to a destination centre with unique attractions and a keen focus on the future.
“I really believe this place has come of age. It’s a great place to live, work and play yet is still untouched, authentic and steeped in classic Kiwiana. It is a short distance from Wellington — yet an oasis from the hustle and bustle of city life. As you can tell, I love this place.”