A drone shot of where the Ōtaki river meets the ocean, at sunset with Kapiti island in the distance.

The northernmost town on the Kāpiti Coast is Ōtaki. It proudly waves the flag as one of Aotearoa’s most bilingual towns. It’s also the place to go for exhilarating outdoor experiences like fishing, hunting, and horse trekking.

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Of all the towns spread across the Kāpiti Coast, Ōtaki is arguably the most laid-back. Don’t be fooled by its bustling main road, where long-haul travellers stop off to peruse the many outlet stores. Take the turn towards the coast from the motorway roundabout, and you’ll hit Ōtaki Beach — it’s a lot quieter and more relaxing down there. This little township is packed with secondhand stores and casual dining options. It’s also home to the Māoriland Hub, which organises the popular annual Māoriland Film Festival. Head a little further down the road to Chur-ch Café and grab a coffee while you check out the adjoining Hori Gallery. In summer, the annual Ōtaki Kite Festival is a popular, free event. Visit then to see huge kites from around the world, food trucks and great local bands and musicians.

The tiny settlement of Te Horo Beach is 10 minutes away by car and is host to two wonderful eateries. The renowned Ruth Pretty Catering is a café as well as a cooking school, and the Te Horo Bus Café is a quirky spot with lush gardens and some of the best cabinet food on the coast.