Just a 20-minute boat ride across the Kapiti Marine Reserve lies Kapiti Island - one of New Zealand’s most important nature reserves. It is a special place full of history, native wildlife and unique experiences.
Kapiti Island Nature Reserve
Only 5 km off Paraparaumu Beach, Kapiti Island is an un-fenced nature reserve unlike any other. Home to a huge variety of birds including a number of critically endangered species, the 10 km long 1,965 hectare island sanctuary has been predator-free since 1998.
Kapiti Island is a fully immersive, living wonderland and one of the only places in the world where you can have a North Island Robin at your feet while you have a Kākā on your shoulder. Be still, and wait for the curious birds to come close - without predators, they have no fear and so take it upon themselves to investigate visitors.
Many of the rarest, most critically endangered bird and lizard species, that are rare or extinct on the mainland are thriving on the Island. This protected haven is now home to NZ’s largest population of Little Spotted Kiwi – over 1200 birds! Thanks to Kapiti, they are now back from the brink of extinction, and the Kapiti Island Little Spotted Kiwi are helping to populate other islands and Zealandia in Wellington.
Wander tracks fringed with dense forest, climb the 521m peak for panoramic views and walk along the shoreline on the edge of the Marine Reserve. Kapiti Island truly is a taonga to be treasured.
Visiting Kapiti Island
Kapiti Island is a special and vulnerable place and as visitors, you must do your bit to protect Kapiti’s amazing and unique wildlife:
- always keep to the tracks, take only memories (and photos!), leave only footprints (pack in, pack out), no fires, smoking or vaping, give wildlife space and right of way, using the toilets provided only for their intended purpose.
- in particular, please, please don’t feed the birds – keep a watch out for cheeky kaka and weka who might otherwise try to steal your lunch!
- everything brought to Kapiti must be cleaned and thoroughly checked for animal pests, soil, dirt, insects and seeds before you leave home, including all your personal clothing and equipment.
- respect the homes of Kapiti’s wildlife e.g. turning over rocks looking for geckos and skinks is destructive to their habitat, searching for or peering into the nests or burrows of birds may frighten them
- please don’t bring large items like beach shelters, camp furniture, sporting equipment – these are a biosecurity risk
More information, including a guide to the wildlife you may see, can be found on the Department of Conservation website:
Getting to Kapiti Island
Kapiti Island is so valuable to the preservation of New Zealand's iconic native species that it is only accessible with Department of Conservation approved operators - and the trips are (unsurprisingly) weather dependent.
The Lodge on Kapiti Island
Waiorua Bay, Kapiti Island
Kapiti Island Nature Tours provide the only accommodation on the Island, from The Lodge, their base at the North End.
Beautiful safari-style tents allow guests to enjoy a private, secluded corner of paradise in luxurious glamping accommodation while the onsite cabins, lined with native timber, provide a more traditional stay. An ensuite option is also available at the coastal bungalow.
With stunning views of the bush-covered hillsides, guests can bask in the afternoon sun with a glass of wine, listening to the spectacular symphony of native bird-song while a chef prepares their meals.
KAPITI ISLAND: BRING YOUR WALKING SHOES!
If you stay in one place on Kapiti Island it won't take long until one of the curious locals come to have a look - from cheeky kākā to thieving wekas, playful pīwakawaka to the occasional takahē. Kapiti Island also offers some fantastic walks, where you are likely to come across some of the more shy island residents
Kapiti Island Walking Tracks - Rangatira Area
Walk through forest to view birds and the historic whare, the oldest building associated with nature conservation in New Zealand. Or climb the track to Tuteremoana, the highest point on Kapiti Island at 521 m above sea level.
Rangatira Loop walk | Time: 1 hr 30 min loop | Distance: 1.8 km loop
Start at the Rangatira shelter and enjoy an easy walk through regenerating forest and coastal shrubland. See whaling pots (artefacts from the island’s whaling history) and the historic whare. Explore the Rangatira wetland via a boardwalk, then walk around the coastal section back to the shelter.
Wilkinson Track | Time: 2 hr one way | Distance: 3.8 km one way
Walk to Tuteremoana along a well-formed track with a steady uphill climb. Pass a picnic area and bird feeding station a third of the way up. There is a toilet 10 minutes from the summit. This is an ideal track for all ages and fitness levels.
Trig Tramping Track | Time: 2 hr one way | Distance: 2 km one way
This is a more challenging walk to Tuteremoana with narrow, uneven sections. It is considerably steeper than the Wilkinson Track and should only be attempted by confident trampers with good, sturdy footwear. This is recommended as an uphill track only - loop back down Wilkinson.
Kapiti Island Walking Tracks - North End
Walking tracks at the northern end of the island pass through grassland, shrubland, regenerating forest and coastline, and provide fantastic views of freshwater Okupe Lagoon.
Okupe Valley Loop Walk | Time: 1 hr 30 min return | Distance: 4.8 km return
This follows a gentle gradient to a lookout above the western cliffs (198 m).
Boulder Bank Loop Track | Time: 45 min loop | Distance: 2 km loop
This walk follows the coastline around the boulder bank. This track is closed from October to March to avoid disturbing nesting seabirds.
Beach Landing to Shelter Track | Time: 5 min one way | Distance: 185 m one way
Start at beach edge and finish at the junction before north end visitor shelter.