Akatarawa Forest covers an area of 15,000ha between Upper Hutt and the Kapiti coast. It is the largest of the forests managed by the Greater Wellington Regional Council. Encompassing three water catchments – West Akatarawa river, Whakatikei river, and Maungokotukutuku Stream – the forest is reserved as a potential future water collection area.
Much of the forest retains its native cover, though some area have been planted in exotics including pine and gum trees. Parts of the exotic forest may be closed for time to time for forestry activities. In particular, the south-eastern Valley View Forest (around Valley View Road and Lindsay's Road) is being progressively cleared and replanted from 2008 onwards, as are some areas off Puketiro Road.
In terms of terrain, the Akatarawa Forest consists mainly of rugged hill country. Most of the hills reach an altitude of around 400-500m, though there are a couple of peaks that reach in excess of 700m. In between the hills are many deep and steep-sided valleys covered in dense bush.
The area provides bountiful opportunities for a variety of recreational activities, including: mountain biking, walking, running, tramping, horse riding, trail bike riding, four wheel driving, quad biking, hunting, and fishing. Note that the forest is one of the few areas of public land in the Wellington region available for motorized recreation.
Mountain biking is an especially popular activity in the forest, with a wide range of short and long tracks presenting a variety of challenges. In particular, the Akatarawa Forest is the venue for the Karapoti Classic mountain biking event, which has been held in the forest since 1985, along with the companion race the Karapoti Challenge.
Total number of tracks for Akatarawa Forest 30; total distance of all tracks 173.50km