Ōtukaikino Reserve is a hidden treasure by Christchurch’s northern suburb of Belfast. This 13 ha freshwater wetland reserve is being restored as a living memorial and the results are impressive.
The wetland walk is perfect for all ages. Stroll through the raupo (tall reeds) and harakeke (flaxes) in a 1.2 km loop. There are boardwalks, stony paths, and a grassy stretch – all fine for buggies. The loop walk will take about 20-40 minutes, depending on whether there are little legs in the group. (And watch little people around the water!).
We saw a birds nest, pukeko, butterflies, dragonflies, lots of big black feathers, and played Pooh Sticks. Part of the walk takes you very close to the motorway (the crickets and cars compete to be the noisiest) so if you’re game there are some pretty good hill-rolling opportunities. There was no one else at the reserve during our visit – this is a top spot.
We visited Ōtukaikino Reserve in March 2016 (autumn).
The Department of Conservation and Lamb & Hayward have teamed up to plant trees to commemorate the passing of loved ones, which makes this a very special place.
Ōtukaikino is also a Wāhi Tapu site, as Ngāi Tahu used its water, mud, and plants for burial preparation. (This also means you should only eat/picnic in the car park or at the picnic table located in the grassy area beside the toilet).
The reserve encompasses Wilson Swamp, named after the first European settlers on the land in 1854, and their descendants, who held the land until the start of the northern motorway in 1961.
Click on a picture to view in a slideshow.
Ōtukaikino Reserve is on the outskirts of the city, by the northern suburb of Belfast. The entrance (sign-posted) is off Main North Road, between Chaneys Corner and the Belfast end of the Northern Motorway. There is a small car park.