Kahikatea Walk

Kahikatea Walk

Carter Scenic Reserve

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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1 km return | 30 minutes return

Thanks to the generosity of Charles Carter, these 31 hectares were gifted to ‘the People’. You are now able to enjoy the many species inhabiting this rare forest remnant.


Carter Scenic Reserve is on Gladstone Road. From Carterton follow Park Road then turn left into Carters Line. After 2.7 km, turn right into Gladstone Road and continue 3 km to where Carter Scenic Reserve is signposted on the right. There is a small parking area at the conclusion of the metalled track.


Follow the vehicle track for 3 minutes to the DoC sign at the beginning of the boardwalk. This traverses the swamp with haunting, decaying trunks of kahikatea rising above the swamp. The vegetation below is composed mainly of cabbage trees and flax.

1 minute after the end of the boardwalk is the junction to the Ruamahanga River Walk, but continue straight ahead on the even metalled track, which finishes the loop at the beginning of the boardwalk.

European History

Charles Rooking Carter was born in Westmoreland, England in 1822. He trained as a builder, architect and engineer before moving to London, where he became involved with the Chartists. This organisation of philanthropists developed in response to the large numbers of impoverished working class appearing in the industrialising cities of Britain.

After reading the journals of Captain Cook he emigrated to New Zealand, initially turning down a position as Clerk of Works under Sir George Grey. He had ideals of establishing a fair society of social equals, viewing the new colony as a land removed from the inertia of centuries of dogmatic class structure like his homeland.

He originally settled in Wellington, helping to build the offices of the Supreme Court and Provincial Government, also organising the reclamation of land around Lambton Quay. He met many disillusioned emigrants who had been falsely promised land in Wellington and the Hutt Valley, so decided to walk around Pencarrow Head to see what was on the other side of the hill.

These early explorations nurtured an increasing acquisition of land including the ‘North Run’, ‘Middle Run’ and ‘Home Run’. Although he continued to be based in Wellington, his land acquisitions included areas of the Wairarapa.

Following his feat of constructing a bridge over the Waiohine River, a major barrier to the early settlement’s development, the town of Carterton was named after him,.

His daughter died aged 18 and his wife passed away soon after. He thus decided to leave his fortune to ‘The People’, including the land of Carter Scenic Reserve. Over 200 species are recorded in the 31 hectares. Carter’s will stated that all trees must be preserved. His wishes were carried out by trustees of the Carter Estate until 1963, when duties passed to Carterton Borough Council. Department of Conservation now administer the land.


Feature Value Info


DOC Wairarapa

Central government organisation


North IslandWairarapaCarterton


  • Walking
  • Free


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DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner