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Every Saturday, something magical happens in Ōtara. An ordinary carpark transforms into a city of stallholders with a distinct Pacific flavour, including aromatic food, plants, pre-loved clothing, traditional crafts, music, and deals galore.
Today more than two-thirds of Ōtara’s population hails from the Pacific Islands which is reflected at the now-iconic Ōtara Markets. Stumble on handcrafted treasures made by peoples of the Pacific, including Māori, Samoans, Tongans and Niueans. It doesn’t take long to come across cultural keepsakes including tapa clothes, pupu, korowai, kete, bone carvings, pounamu and lavalava.
Ōtara translates to ‘the place of Tara’ or ‘territory belonging to Tara’. Tara references two stories from the suburb’s past – a Te Ākitai ancestor connected to the Manukau Harbour and the name of a local Ngāi Tai rangātira (chief) Tara-Te-Irirangi. Positioned on the banks of the Tāmaki River, which slivers through the isthmus from the east, Ōtara is a place Māori have long used as a portage to travel and carry goods from one coast to the other.
For some fresh air, walk or bike along the nearby Ōtara Path. Listen to birdsong and enjoy native flor planted in what has become a peaceful green corridor, winding mostly along tidal mudflats through Ōtara Creek Reserve.
The southern township is full of fun activities to do for the entire family, from pools to exploring local art. Treat the kids to a day of jumping, running and sliding at Auckland's largest inflatable bounce centre. For a bit more adrenaline, race around corners (and each other) at the country’s only indoor level 2 go-kart track.
Across from the Ōtara Town Centre, you’ll find art made with heart at Fresh Gallery, a community gallery that houses local, national and international works and experimental projects. Exhibitions often showcase Pasifika arts and artists, with the gallery’s aim to serve as a gateway for local emerging talent.
With Ōtara’s proximity to townships like Manukau, Papatoetoe and Botany, it’s easy to enjoy the many activities in the South Auckland region. Splurge on some retail therapy at Botany Town Centre or crank up the energy level with a visit to the nation's largest theme park, Rainbow’s End.
Location Te wāhi
ŌtaraPlan your route
Getting there Te huarahi ki reira
Ōtara is 15-20 minutes from the city centre by car, and is accessible by train and bus.
Local tip He tīwhiri mō te rohe
Combine a visit to the Ōtara Markets with a stroll along Ōtara Path, which is only a 10-minute walk away.