The Akatarawa Forest covers hill country between Upper Hutt and Paraparaumu. Translated to English, Akatarawa means 'trailing vines'. MÄori used the forest for hunting and food gathering as well as an access trail to and from the Hutt Valley. The indigenous (native) forest of the area, covering approximately 14,000 hectares, has changed considerably since European settlement. These changes have been brought about by the introduction of animals, fires and logging of native timber including rimu.
The logging of timber was the most significant influence on the nature of the forest. For more than 100 years saw-milling was an important part of the economy of this area. During the peak period of 1900 to 1920 many families associated with saw-milling moved into the Akatarawa area. Small cottages or whares provided the barest essentials for the workers and their families.
Access was via Karapoti Road which was formed in 1911 as a tram track with wooden rails. Old tram lines, trucks and discarded machinery can still be seen today - relics of a bygone era. Readily accessible rimu, matai, totara, kahikatea and some miro were extracted, while isolated and un-merchantable podocarp remnants are scattered throughout the area.
Further change to the native forest took place from 1930 to 1957 - following further logging - with the scattered inter-planting of exotic conifers such as Douglas fir, Lawson's cypress, Monterey cypress, western red cedar and Japanese cedar. Today many of these tree species have blended in well with the surrounding native bush.
The rivers in the area have the potential for meeting future water supply needs. Parts of the block contain exotic forests with multiple-use purposes - timber production, maintenance of water quality and recreation.