Off the Beaten Track to... Kapiti Island
Lying about 5 kilometres off the west coast of the southern North Island, Kapiti Island is one of few accessible island nature reserves in New Zealand. It gives visitors the opportunity to observe birds that are either rare, or absent on the mainland. The island is just 10 kilometres long and covers an area of roughly 2,000 hectares.
Kapiti Island is the summit of a submerged mountain range created by earthquakes 200 million years ago. Nowadays, its highest point, Tuteremoana, is 521 metres above sea-level and the whole island is one of New Zealand's most important sites for bird recovery.
Bird species inhabiting the island include: kakariki (red-crowned parakeet), robin, bellbird and saddleback, stitchbird, kokako, takahe, brown teal, little spotted kiwi, weka, kereru (New Zealand pigeon), North Island tomtit, kaka, whitehead, tui, fantail, long-tailed cuckoo (summer only) and silverey, black-backed and red-billed gulls; white-fronted tern; variable oystercatcher; reef heron, and little, black and spotted shags.
On the boat trip to and from the island you may also see gannets, fluttering shearwaters, and little blue penguins.
Truly a bird-watcher's paradise, Kapiti Island is also of historical interest, having been used by a succession of Maori tribes for its strategic military location and as a base by European whalers.
Activities on Kapiti Island
- Walking - short and easy, low-level forest tracks and some steeper climbs
Information for Visiting Kapiti Island
- Permits must be obtained from the DOC (Department of Conservation)
- Only 68 people can visit the island per day, so advance booking is highly recommended. (Permits can be issued up to a year in advance)
- Transports must be arranged with one of two authorised boat services (Kapiti Marine Charter and Kapiti Tours Ltd)
- On arrival, all visitors must attend an introductory talk at the public shelter. This talk explains the conditions of entry and safety and provides information about flora, fauna and history
- You will need to contact the boat service before 7.00am on the day of departure to confirm that weather conditions permit the trip to be undertaken
- You will need: lunch and drinking water, sturdy footwear, warm clothing and waterproof jacket
- You must keep to marked tracks
- You must be ready to leave the island at the departure time announced by your boat service, as conditions at sea can change rapidly
- Shelter, interpretive displays and toilets are available for visitors.
Accommodation for Kapiti Island
No-one is permitted to stay on the island overnight, but accommodation can easily be found in the Kapiti Coast area (also within a drive from Wellington). The Kapiti Coast provides a wealth of activities and accommodation options for visitors. Click on the links below for more details about: