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About Us

First established in 1991 by Gary Owens, Ōtaki Hydroponics was one of the pioneers of hydroponics in New Zealand, developing hydroponic systems and providing nutrients to commercial suppliers throughout the country. It appeared in a “Country Calendar” episode and was even in one spoof show showing Wellingtonians growing strawberries hydroponically but adding a liquor into the water reservoir to improve the taste of the strawberries. 

Over the time Ōtaki Hydroponics has evolved into a retail hydroponic store, a manufactory of hydroponic nutrients, and a local garden store.

The initial store was situated slightly north of where the present store is located. The business moved into the present store a couple of years later and it has operated at its present location ever since. The building itself was initially built to be a wine cellar/tasting room, but the winery discontinued before the building was ever used for its initial purpose. The building became Ōtaki Hydroponics’ retail outlet. 

With a proud history, we have many customers who have been coming here for twenty plus years and the occasional past team member who shares memories about their Ōtaki Hydroponics experience. We treasure and encourage long-term customers and ex-employees to share their experience with the Ōtaki Hydroponics store. They make for some very interesting stories.

After several owners, the store was finally purchased by me, Bert Prvanov in 2019. On purchasing Ōtaki Hydroponics, one of my pleasant surprises was the quality and local reputation of the nutrients manufactured by Ōtaki Hydroponics. The locals from throughout Horowhenua and the Kāpiti Coast have been using the nutrients for 25 years and have been achieving great results. It is Ōtaki’s little secret.

It quickly became my objective to make Ōtaki’s little secret, New Zealand’s big secret. Why should New Zealanders continue to buy expensive international nutrients when they can purchase locally manufactured nutrients of similar quality for close to half the price?!

We have since rebranded our manufactured nutrients under the “Whakatupu” brand. “Whakatupu” means “to rear, grow, raise, cultivate, produce, farm” in our native reo. We strongly encourage all hydroponicers to give the Whakatupu brand a try. We are confident you will get the same great results as past and present Ōtaki Hydroponics customers have been achieving for over 25 years.

The AutoPot system was initially introduced into New Zealand through Ōtaki Hydroponics. While there are now other outlets that offer AutoPots accessories, we take pride in having the largest range of AutoPot systems and accessories in New Zealand. If you can’t buy an AutoPot system/accessory here, it is unlikely you will be able to find it in New Zealand. We are also confident we can match anybody in price. We have an in-store policy of matching any legitimate AutoPot offer. (This in-store policy also applies to FloraMax Nutrients and Trojan Gold Growing Tents). We feel we are the number 1 AutoPot retailer in New Zealand and encourage you to give us a look first before purchasing any AutoPot products any place else.

At Ōtaki Hydroponics, we don’t oversell like many of our competitors. I can say with pride that often my staff and I will recommend the cheaper of two products when we think there is little benefit for the customer to buy the more expensive product. We will recommend they upgrade if we think it will be beneficial for them but not just to make a bigger sale. We are constantly looking to add value to our customers’ experience and take pride in providing honest advice to our customers even if it results into a smaller sale.