Kapiti Island

One of the oldest and largest accessible bird sanctuaries in New Zealand, Kāpiti Island makes for a wonderful day trip from Wellington. It has a long history of occupation, home to around 4,000 Maori at one stage, when it was called Te Waewae-Kapiti-o-Tara-rāua-ko-Rangitāne.

It can only be visited through an approved operator, in my case with Kāpiti Island Eco, leaving from Paraparaumu on the Kāpiti Coast. A 20 minute boat ride took us to to a small beach in the middle of the near 20sq mile island.

It’s a green and lush island, a mixture of native and regenerating bush from a number of fires over the years. We headed to the visitor centre for a briefing on the island and it’s bird life.

After which everyone else headed up toward the 521m summit, known as Tuteremoana. We stayed behind with a guide and had a wonderful time close to the visitor centre where we saw takahe, tieke / North Island saddleback, kākāriki / red-crowned parakeet, tui, and korimako / bellbird in the space of about 10 minutes.

We then headed up the hill to The Whare, the oldest building on the island, dating back to the early 1860s, though with a few modifications since.

Through a few breaks in the bush we could see back toward the mainland.

The bush becomes almost tropical as you climb higher.

About half way up toward the summit are feeders for hihi / stitchbird and a handy bench for lunch.

Unfortunately the resident kaka are wise to this and were waiting for food to appear. They’re known to snatch food from people’s hands, so after taking some close up photos we headed on. We ended up eating lunch by the side of the track, safe from kaka, but not weka who started to investigate…

The boat returned at 2.30pm so we had just enough time to head toward the now empty summit, as everyone else had lunch there and then headed back down.

We made it back down spot on time to catch the boat back to Paraparaumu after an enjoyable winter’s day exploring the island.

Author: jontycrane

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