The Otatara Scenic Reserve is the largest surviving remnant of the forest that once covered the Otatara area.
In 1938 the reserve was protected from further milling and, as a result, a few pockets of impressive unmilled trees remain within the reserve.
A mosaic of forest communities, from manuka shrubland to mature mixed podocarp forest are contained in the reserve and a canopy of totara, matai, lemonwood, pokaka and occasional rimu can be found.
Otatara Reserve is located about 4km west of Invercargill on Dunns Road. The reserve provides a picnic shelter with interpretation panels, and a poilet.
A well-graded, gravel walking track (2291m, 45 minutes return) starts and finishes at the picnic shelter and car park off Dunns Road.
Taiepa Dune Reserve
Follow the track (10 minutes one way) through the sand dunes and remnants of the coastal sand dune forest to link Grant Road, Taiepa Road and Raeburn Avenue. A new playground was constructed in 2008 and the track developments and plantings are part of an ongoing restoration project.
This reserve contains a small bush remnant of matai, kahikatea, totara, rimu and pokaka and is a good example of the original podocarp forest in Otatara. The bush remnant, which maintained by the Council, is the only QEII Trust-owned property in Southland. The loop track (10 minutes return) can be accessed from Ruru Avenue or from Spence Avenue (via Paterson Reserve).