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Nature & Wildlife

Kapiti nature sanctuary attraction

  • 4 minutes

New Zealand wild where exotic predators are eliminated is a nature highlight. Easily accessible from Wellington, plan to spend two days immersed in your own island weekend escape. Kapiti Island key attractions are the native flora and fauna of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Misty day, Kapiti Island shelter _ self-guided info centre + cheeky kaka parrots hanging out inside, Wellington, New Zealand
Kapiti Island shelter - self-guided info centre + cheeky kaka parrots hanging out inside

BEGINNINGS

Forget the passport; just enjoy the sense of crossing a frontier border without the hassle of an airline ticket. Your bags are inspected for potential nasties trying to catch a free ride to snack on Kapiti Island locals then it’s into the boat for a tractor tow and a short crossing to Kapiti Island wildlife sanctuary.

TIP

Discover what Kapiti Island means as a wildlife sanctuary and what you can see and do with a guided tour. To maximise your time on Kapiti Island it is recommended a booked guided tour of the island with an introduction to the flora and fauna by a local ranger.  You could be offered a bite of the Kawakawa plant. Kawakawa is known to tone the kidneys and help with stomach problems. The plants have invariably been nibbled by the local birds who know a good thing when they spy it.

WALKS

The boat disembarks passengers at the Kapiti Island is largely managed by the Department of Conservation with the traditional owners maintaining their lodge at the northern end of Kapiti Island at Waiorua Bay.

Kapiti Island effortless gangplank landing, Wellington, New Zealand
Kapiti Island effortless gangplank landing
RANGATIRA WALK
Rangatira Point Track @Love Taupo
Rangatira Point Track @Love Taupo

Easy to moderate walking track. Views of regenerating forest, historic whare (traditional house). Boardwalk through Rangatira wetland. Great family walk

  • Length: 1.8 km (loop)
  • Duration: 1 hr, 30 minutes
WILKINSON TRACK

Track guide Easy to moderate walking from a few minutes to a day; track mostly well formed, some sections may be steep, rough or muddy.

Walk to Tuteremoana along a well-formed track with a steady uphill climb. Pass a picnic area and hihi feeding station a third of the way up.

  • Length: 3.8 km
  • Duration: 2 – 3 hours
Close up of Wax-Eye or Silvereye bird (Zosterops lateralis) perched on flax plant on Kapiti Island, North Island New Zealand, with blurred background, Wellington, New Zealand
Wax-Eye or Silvereye bird on Kapiti Island
TRIG TRACK
Kawakawa, traditional Maori medicial plant used for stomach aliments, Kapiti Island, Wellington, New Zealand
Kawakawa, traditional Maori medicial plant used for stomach aliments, Kapiti Island

A more challenging walk to Tuteremoana, with narrow, uneven sections. It is considerably steeper than the Wilkinson Track. The Trig Track should only be attempted by confident trampers with good, sturdy footwear.

OVERNIGHT STAY

Relax into Island time with a hearty dinner and plan for an evening walk on the trail of the elusive nocturnal kiwi. No promises as it is a wild bird known for its ability to quickly scurry away from any unusual sounds. Visitors have an opportunity to explore north end tracks from the lagoon circuit to the Opuke Valley loop track. Your local guides, on the overnight stay are passionate advocates for their island and you will hear a wealth of stories about the history of Kapiti and its place in Maori history.

Enjoy glamping in comfort in a tent appointed with linens and a nearby compostable toilet. The glamping tent is near wetland which are known for mosquitoes yet do not let this put you off. The sense of privacy and being in a natural environment without the hassle of putting up a tent far out way any annoying sand flies. There are cabins for overnight accommodation and plenty of hot water for showers in the shared facilities.

Weathered glamping spot Kapiti Island Sanctuary, Wellington, New Zealand
Weathered glamping spot Kapiti Island Sanctuary

FOR MORE ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS ON KAPITI ISLAND CHECK OUT

Kapiti Island departure via tractor assistance to launch island boat, Wellington, New Zealand
Kapiti Island departure via tractor assistance to launch island boat

GETTING THERE

Bookings are essential with Kapiti Island Nature Tours whose mainland base is Paraparaumu where boats depart from the local marina.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS SECTION

is sourced from Kapiti Island Nature Tours, for any changes or specific questions connect Kapiti Island directly, Contact Us.

What should I bring for a day trip to Kapiti Island?

Clothing & other essentials

Whatever time of year you visit it’s always a good idea to bring good walking shoes or boots, a water bottle, your camera and a small backpack to carry your lunch & any spare clothes.  The weather can be changeable so wearing clothing you can layer is recommended. We’d also suggest bringing a light jacket, sunhat & sunscreen – the New Zealand sun can be quite strong.

Food

We can arrange a packed lunch for you if requested in advance, otherwise you’ll need to bring some food to keep you going.  There isn’t anywhere on Kapiti Island that you can buy food.

If you book the “Ferry Only” option with Kapiti Island Nature Tours we can easily add a packed lunch (catering to any dietary requirements) – please call or email us to arrange.

If you book a “Day Tour” with Kapiti Island Nature Tours this will include a delicious cooked lunch at the Lodge.  Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements so we can cater to them.

The birds can be very cheeky (especially the Kaka!) so the Department of Conservation (DOC) asks that you keep all food in sealed containers. Open bags of food are not allowed on the island.

Extra seasonal items

From December – March you could bring a swimsuit.  There are good swimming spots at Waiorua Bay (if you’re visiting Waiorua) & off Rangatira point (if you’re visiting Rangatira in the middle of the island).

From April – November you might also want to bring a warm hat.

We’d recommend you check the weather forecast before your visit too.

What should I bring for an overnight stay on Kapiti Island?

We encourage you to keep luggage to a minimum for an overnight stay.

As a starting point you’ll want to bring the same items as above for a day trip, plus your bathroom necessities.

We provide all bedding and a towel & have lots of extra blankets available if the night is chilly.

We’d recommend a warm fleecy jacket or top for kiwi spotting – it’s important to be as quiet as possible as “noisy” clothing (eg. nylon jacket or pants, jandals or flip flops) can disturb the kiwi.

Where do I check in?

Please report to our check-in desk, located at our office/shop, 29 Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach at least 30 minutes before your scheduled sailing time.

Where can I park my vehicle at Paraparaumu Beach?

There is a free public car park available at the Kapiti Boating Club. This car park is directly in front of the boating clubrooms.  There are also free public car parks to the left of the Boating Club near the park & playground area. These are clearly marked. You aren’t able to park on the beach – beach access is restricted to vehicles launching or retrieving boats.

For camper vans, there are 3 allocated sites – 54, 62 & 69 Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach where you can park your camper for up to 24hrs.

You will find more detailed information here;  Freedom Camping in Kapiti.

What facilities are available on Kapiti Island?

At Rangatira point in the middle of the island there are toilets & a public shelter.  Fresh drinking water is available at the visitor shelter.

At Waiorua (the North End of the island) there are toilets & a public shelter.  It isn’t currently possible to walk from Rangatira to Waiorua. At the Lodge there are toilets & showers for visitors staying overnight.  As Kapiti Island is so remote our tap water comes from rainwater storage tanks & is carefully managed in Summer months. There are no public cooking or camping facilities for use on the island.

What sort of weather should I expect?

The climate on Kapiti Island is generally warm & temperate.  Rainfall peaks from June – August.  The driest months are generally January – March.

September – November

Spring with cool to warm days & cold to cool nights

Low: 8°C  High: 18°C

December – February

Summer with warm to hot days & cool to warm nights

Low: 12°C  High: 25°C

March – May

Autumn with cool to warm days & cool nights

Low: 8°C  High: 20°C

June – August

Winter with cool to cold days & cold nights

Low: 4°C  High: 14°C

How do I get to Kapiti Island?

To get to the island you must book transport with an authorised provider.  The ferry departs from Paraparaumu Beach at approximately 9am each day. We’ll confirm your check-in & sailing time when you book.

The boat ride across the flourishing Marine Reserve takes around 20 minutes.

Private vessels such as kayaks, boats, paddle boards & jet skis are not allowed to land on Kapiti Island.

Kapiti Island is a popular destination all year round, so booking in advance is essential especially during the peak summer season.

When can I visit Kapiti Island?

A trip to Kapiti Island is dependent on sea & weather conditions.  Kapiti Island Nature Tours operate from September 1st to May 30th.

Sailings are usually daily from October to May, and Friday to Sunday in September, depending on visitor demand.  This can vary though, so please don’t hesitate to call or email us to check availability.

Between Christmas & New Year we close the Lodge for whanau (family) time but the ferry continues to operate for day trips only, aside from on Christmas Day & New Years Day.

What happens if my trip is cancelled due to bad weather?

We will do our best to get you to Kapiti Island, however safety is paramount!  If your trip is cancelled by the ferry skipper due to unsafe sea or weather conditions you can transfer your booking to another available date or request a full refund.

What happens if I need to cancel my trip?

We understand that plans change – so please call or email us if you need to change or cancel your trip.  If you cancel more than 14 days before your arrival date we will give you a full refund. If you cancel within 14 days of your arrival date we will refund 75% of your total booking price.  If you cancel within 1 day of your arrival date, or don’t turn up on the day we won’t give you a refund at all.

What time does the ferry sail?

The ferry departs Paraparaumu Beach at approximately 9am & departs Kapiti Island at approximately 3pm.  Exact times may vary depending on the number of sailings we have on a particular day.  You’ll receive an email with full details of your check-in & ferry sailing time once you book.  If you’re able to supply a mobile number we also send text confirmation the morning of your sailing.  (please check your sailing time with reservations the night before if you do not receive a text message from us).

What information is included in the 1hr guided walk (during the day)

The 1hr guided walk includes information on Kapiti Island history, flora, fauna, conservation past & present, interpretation about birds including help with identification and specific bird behaviours.

Can I swim at the Lodge?

You can – Waiorua Bay is a stony beach with crystal clear waters.  The area directly in front of the Lodge is usually quite calm. Please speak to one of our friendly teams at the Lodge to check conditions on the day & let them know where you’ll be swimming.

Since 1963 there’s also been an annual swim from Kapiti Island back to the Mainland.

Source Kapiti Island Nature tours, check for up to date information

New Zealand native Kaka parrot (Nestor meridionalis) perched on branch in rain forest of Kapiti island, Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand native Kaka parrot (Nestor meridionalis) perched on branch in rain forest of Kapiti island

For visitors interested in wildlife attractions remember to check out

For more information about getting around Wellington and Wellington highlights check your Wellington Travel Guide for details and enjoy Aotearoa New Zealand’s cool little capital.

Instagram

Rained last night, Kapiti Island sanctuary, Wellington, New Zealand
Mapou signage, Kapiti Island detailed flora and fauna information signs, Wellington, New Zealand
Kapiti Island signage, Wellington, New Zealand
An adult white-faced heron in breeding plumage caught crab in its beak, Waimanu Lagoons, Kapiti coast, North Island, Wellington, New Zealand

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