Kapiti Island, on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington, is home to a renowned international nature reserve that protects some of the world’s rarest and most endangered birds.
Free from predators, the island is one of New Zealand’s most important nature reserves – an area of uncontrolled natural forest regeneration and the center of local bird recovery programs.
It is the only major protected island for birds in the lower North Island.
Kapiti Island History
For over 800 years, Kapiti Island has been inhabited by people. We now know about their history through stories and legends told by their ancestors, as well as through numerous historical sites and artifacts.
Many tribal groups have left their mark on Kapiti Island during its long and colorful history. European interest from Captain James Cook, foreign merchant ships, commercial whalers and immigrant farmers also played an important role.
Learn about the island’s flora and fauna, history and customs with a local Māori guide.
Day visitors to the island can choose from two vacation destinations – Rangatira or the northern part of the island or walks of varying degrees of difficulty. Even corporate vacations can be arranged on the island, for this purpose special accommodation facilities with a larger capacity have been created.
Built with a slight gradient, the 4km long northern island track provides easy access to a variety of landscapes ranging from coastal areas to dense forest.
Tourists typically begin their journey in the Okupe Valley, before climbing up steep cliffs to view Cook Strait before returning on a circular route back to the valley.
“This trek offers a new perspective on Kapiti Island, one of our national treasures. The landscapes and vistas in the north of the island are very different from those of the Rangatira Reserve,” says Kapiti Island Conservation Department manager Ian Cooksley.
Rare birds such as kiwi, kokako and others can be seen during the trek.
The freshwater Okupe Lagoon is home to king spoonbills, herons and the rare brown teal, while cormorants, terns, egrets and oystercatchers can be seen in the coastal area.
The heart of the island is home to takahe, weka, kakariki, tui, kaka, kereru.
The adjacent Kapiti Marine Reserve provides a unique combination of protected marine and terrestrial environments.
The newly constructed track and visitor facilities including accommodation, toilets and security are under the auspices of the Department of Environment, allowing groups of up to 18 people per day to visit the northern part of the island.
The permit system is designed to protect the island’s environment.
Visitors can book passes at the Department of Conservation’s Wellington Information Centre.
Tours and overnight stays can be booked at Kapiti Island Alive.
Relax and indulge in Kapiti’s coastal activities:
- Tempt your taste buds at the Lindale Visitor and Agri-Cultural Center, where you can sample local cheese and ice cream
- Visit the Southwards Car Museum, home to the largest collection of vintage and unusual cars in the Southern Hemisphere
- Focus on food and visit vegetable gardens, a chocolate factory, cooking school and olive groves
- Put your culinary skills to the test at the Ruth Pretty Cooking School. Ruth Pretty is one of New Zealand’s top chefs. At the cooking school she shares recipes, cooking ideas and secrets in the relaxed atmosphere of rural tranquility of Te Horo
- The Tasman Sea coastline offers many outdoor activities including bird watching.