The Wainuiomata Recreation Area lies at the foot of one of the largest and most pristine lowland forests in the lower North Island.
Maori used the hills and valleys to travel between the Wairarapa and Te Whanganui a Tara (Wellington Harbour). Later some of the lower valley (including what is now the Recreation Area) was logged for timber and is now regenerating. Higher up the lush native forests and clear water of the Wainuiomata and Orongorongo Rivers are a source of drinking water. In the 1880s an earth dam and pipeline first harnessed this resource for the people of Wellington.
Remnants of the old logging tramway remain, as do two old camp sites from the earlier dam construction days.
Today the rivers provide around 15% of the Wellington region's drinking water. Greater Wellington Regional Council ensures quality water by protecting the forest environment and maintaining high standards at the treatment plant, further up the valley from the Recreation Area.