48 Hours in Kāpiti
A trip to Kāpiti should come with a warning: you’ll run out of space on your phone’s memory card, you won’t need a jacket and you might leave with a few extra kilos.
- Sharon Stephenson
Your 48 hours begins...
Because spending a few days on the Kāpiti Coast is an exercise in spectacular vistas, sunshine and good food and wine. This 43km of curved coastline, which runs from Paekākāriki to Ōtaki, is a magnet for those seeking the three R’s – rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.
It’s been like that since the 1800s, when Wellingtonians wanting to ‘take the sea air’ would spend at least a day weaving their way through the hills. Today, the good life is much more accessible – either a 50 minute drive from the Capital or a short hop on an Air Chathams flight.
If time is limited, we’ve rounded up some of the highlights you can tick off in a weekend.
If you really want to know Kāpiti, let your stomach guide you. After dropping your bags at your accommodation, head to Pram Beach, a two-storey waterfront bar and restaurant. Try to get a window table so you can ogle Kapiti Island.
Last night you saw it, today you can visit Kapiti Island, one of New Zealand’s most valuable nature reserves. Marvel at the birdlife and what NZ must have been like before humans started messing up the environment.
Head back to the mainland and a late lunch at The Surfer’s Mistress, for the kind of tasty food you’d eat in Italy. Then point the car in the direction of Southward Car Museum, where more than 500 highly covetable vehicles, including Marlene Dietrich’s Cadillac, are the star attraction. Even non-petrol heads will find something to like at this $20 million shrine to the motor vehicle.
Treat yourself tonight at 50-50 and finish with a night-cap at Raumati Social Club, a neighbourhood bar/eatery where live bands keep punters entertained until late.
Start your day with a hearty brunch at Waikanae’s Long Beach Tavern before walking the Paekākāriki Escarpment. This track, part of the national Te Araroa Walkway, runs from Paekākāriki to Pukerua Bay, a 10km stretch that takes around 2.5 hours to complete, or possibly longer, given the views are highly Instagrammable.
Then pop into Ngā Manu Nature Reserve, a 15ha bird sanctuary thick with picnic areas, bush walks, aviaries and a nocturnal house that’s home to kiwi, owls and tuatara. Try to time your visit for 2.00pm when the reserve's endangered long-fin eels are fed.
Tuatara put craft beer on the map and you can’t come to Kāpiti and not drop into their HQ for a drink and something to eat.
Save room for a visit to the Kāpiti Chocolate Factory which has been turning out delicious morsels of dark, milk and flavoured chocolate for 25 years (so they should be good – and they are). Take a tour and have a go at making your own chocolate.