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Each village and town on the Kāpiti Coast has its own unique character.
The southernmost seaside village in Kāpiti, Paekākāriki, is seen as the creative hub of the district with many actors, dancers, musicians, film-makers, artists and sculptors choosing to make their home here. You can visit artists at work in the art hub or enjoy the village Art Walk.
For a small village, it has great facilities with cafés, a bar, bookshop, hotel, 24 seat luxury cinema, dairy, its own radio station (tune in at 88.2FM), monthly market, library, tennis court, organic greengrocer and other speciality shops.
Go mountain biking, walking or horse riding at nearby Whareroa Farm or walk the coastal Te Araroa Trail looking down at Paekākāriki from the popular 'Stairway to Heaven'.
Once an important stop on the northward train line, the museum in the old train station tea rooms is packed with local history for you to discover, or visit the US Marines Memorial and find out about the 15,000 US Marines who were stationed here in World War II.
Raumati is the Māori word for summer, and summer sure is good here. For a little place, Raumati Beach village has a surprising number of boutique shops selling fashion, homewares, gifts and books.
There are also quality eateries with sushi, a bakery, French Patisserie, cafés, a restaurant, bar and pub to choose from.
Raumati South also offers a lively and vibrant village experience. Stroll among the colourful gardens, grab a coffee on the go, or sit down and relax at one of the local eateries to hear a band over a bottle of wine.
Go to the movies at Event Cinemas in the Coastlands mall and food court or indulge in some retail therapy at the shops.
Climb up to one of the most dramatic landmarks on the Kāpiti Coast, the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is one of the largest statues of its kind in the world.
Not far from there, you can experience the thrill of quad biking through native bush with Kāpiti Four x 4 Adventures.
A little north of Paraparaumu is the world class Southward Car Museum, one of the largest private car collections in the Southern Hemisphere.
The largest of the seaside villages, Paraparaumu Beach has a wide range of shops, cafés, restaurants, holiday accommodation and a bustling Saturday market with local produce, arts and crafts along with buskers.
The sandy Paraparumu Beach is the most popular Kāpiti beach and ideal for families. Have an adventure with the little ones and find the 16 fairy doors around the shopping area and parks.
The Maclean Park playground and skate park is a hit with families as are the picnic tables and benches facing the sea for fish and chips.
Paraparaumu Golf Course is the course that tamed world number one Tiger Woods. Have a go and see how you do.
History buffs will enjoy the Museum of Aviation at Kāpiti Coast Airport. You can also take a scenic helicopter ride with Heliworx or take the controls yourself on a trial flight in a Cessna with Kāpiti Aero Club.
Paraparaumu Beach is the gateway to Kāpiti Island, New Zealand's oldest nature reserve.
Waikanae is considered the garden and bird capital of Kāpiti. Some of the many beautiful private gardens are open to the public during the annual Lions Super Garden Trail.
Bird life abounds at Ngā Manu Nature Reserve, as well as opportunities for eel feeding, seeing tuatara or the rare brown kiwi.
The skate park and playgrounds at Waikanae Park are ideal for families, as is the outdoor pool here that is open in summer.
In and around the town square are restaurants and cafes. Have a hearty lunch and craft beer at North End Brewery's BBQ restaurant and brew pub the Salt and Wood Collective or enjoy a delicious meal at Maison 8.
Waikanae's beach is down Te Moana Road – ‘the road to the sea’ – which is awash with cherry blossoms in spring.
The wide expanse of uncrowded beach is home to the Landsailing Kāpiti Club that regularly offers ‘have a go’ days when you can try one of their Blokarts and have a blast landsailing down the beach.
Waikanae Beach is renowned for its international cuisine. Several cafes and restaurants are staffed by chefs from around the world who have chosen this idyllic spot in which to work.
Ōtaki has a strong Māori identity and history. Since the early 19th century, the area has been home to Māori of the Ngāti Raukawa iwi who migrated from the Kāwhia area from about 1819, under the leadership of the chief Te Rauparaha.
You can explore Māori heritage including the oldest Māori Anglican church in New Zealand, Rangiatea Church, by taking a self-guided walking tour of important Māori heritage sites on the Pipi Trail. You can pick up a Pipi Trail leaflet at the library on Main St in Ōtaki or at the small Ōtaki Museum where you can also discover the town's history.
The Māoriland Film Festival attracts thousands of people to this showcase of indigenous films from New Zealand and around the world. For a different taste of culture, try the art and craft collective Artscape.
Ōtaki is known for its outlet stores and shopping on State Highway 1.
Kids will enjoy Haruātai Park with its swimming pool and outdoor splash pad. The estuary at the beach is also a great, easy place for children to catch their first fish. Or head to the Loco Miniature Railway just north of the town.
You can learn more about Ōtaki's heritage, culture and what's on by visiting the Elevate Ōtaki website.
The quiet township of Te Horo is a gardener's paradise. Hyde Park Garden Centre has some hard to find plant varieties and Lavender Creek Farm is home to 330 different types of lavender.
You can pick your own fruit and vegetables at Penray Gardens, which includes a huge range of chillis, or for summer fruit picking head to nearby Windsor Park.
There is also a country market on the first Sunday of the month with plants, herbs, produce, free range eggs, preserves, local olive oil, home baking and more.
Gardeners will enjoy Harrison's Gardenworld, which grows most of the trees and shrubs they sell from their nursery.
Peka Peka is home to the luxury lodge Atahuri.