Another world in a day: Explore Kapiti Island with Kāpiti Island Eco
From bush walking to sea kayaking, Kāpiti Island Eco will take you on an island sanctuary adventure
Sitting five kilometres off the shore, Kapiti Island is like a sleeping guardian for the stretch of coastline that takes its name.
One of the earliest established nature reserves in the country, Kapiti Island is predator-free, meaning it is home to many species of native bird, while the waters around it are protected by a marine reserve. With nearly 2000 hectares of nature reserve and regenerating native bush, the island is alive with kākā, takahē, kōkako, hihi, weka and even little spotted kiwi, which are now extinct on the mainland. Below the surface of the marine reserve, sea anemones and kōura make their home on the seabed. Starfish and kina feed off the seaweed, octopuses dart and stingrays glide. While fish such as red mullet, blue cod and butterfish hunt for their dinner.
Kāpiti Island Eco has been taking enthralled visitors out to the island for over thirty years in its specially designed Kiwi Express vessel which departs from Paraparaumu Beach to travel the five kilometres across the Rauoterangi Channel. They offer a range of different day trips, which showcase different parts of the Kapiti Island experience.
For those wishing to take things at a gentler pace, one option is a relaxing time spent meandering the looped tracks that weave along the island’s shores, accompanied by the friendly and quite tame native birds. A knowledgeable guide can provide insight into some of Kāpiti’s history, which is fascinating and includes time as a stronghold for famous Māori warrior chief Te Rauparaha, as well as a whaling station.
If you’re feeling energetic, a hike to the summit at Rangatira is rewarded by spectacular, sweeping coastline views of the mainland. Kāpiti Eco’s five-hour Rangatira day trip is their most popular, and books out well ahead of time over summer months.
For those seeking more watery adventures, Kāpiti Eco also hosts fully-guided sea kayaking trips, where you can spot the sea life and marine birds while experiencing being close to the island and travelling under your own steam, or in this case, paddle. The kayaks are doubles, making them perfect for families, couples or friends, and the excursions include a permit to land on the island’s shores to enjoy a picnic, walk or swim.
Kāpiti Eco’s season opens on the first weekend in September and runs seven days a week through to May. For more information visit www.kapitiislandeco.co.nz
The accessible reserve can be visited through two tourism operators Kāpiti Island Eco and Kapiti Island Nature Tours both offering visitors with the opportunity to explore the two parts of the island – with or without a tour guide.