PICTURE PERFECT Kãpiti
A weekend is the perfect time to explore the charms of each of the Kāpiti settlements
The stunning Kāpiti coast is a cluster of charming villages and attractive towns less than an hour from Wellington. Perfect for a leisurely break, Kāpiti offers abundant outdoor activities: swimming, cycling, golfing, horseriding, picturesque countryside, stunning bush and birdlife – plus all the indulgence you want with boutique shopping, exquisite arts and crafts and delicious local food and hospitality.
Stretching along a network of expansive white sand beaches, Kāpiti is named for the beautiful and iconic Kāpiti Island, visible throughout the district. With a mild climate, it offers year-round relaxation, or more adventurous activities, all within easy reach. The southernmost of the centres, Paekākāriki is an authentic kiwi seaside village considered the district’s creative hub. Actors, dancers, musicians, film-makers and artists make the village home and it has a laid-back, quirky vibe with personality-packed cafes
and a bar, boutique cinema and weekend market in the heritage village hall.
Nestled between the hills and the sea, it has a great swimming beach, the expansive Queen Elizabeth Park and wonderful walks and cycle paths. If you’re looking for a real ‘high’ try the Paekākāriki Escarpment Track, described as the ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Part of the national Te Araroa walking trail, this 10km track clings to the hillside providing its conquerors with knockout views over majestic Kāpiti Island.
Raumati village is close to Raumati Beach with delightful boutique shopping including upmarket fashion and interior design stores. Spend a cruisy morning shopping and brunching and stay on for a meal at one of the lively cafes or bars.
Close by, Marine Gardens is a mecca for families with its splash pad water park, playground and miniature ride-on train.
Paraparaumu Beach is the largest of the seaside villages with shops, cafes, restaurants, and a thriving Saturday market, buzzing with passionate vendors and their flavour-packed produce and delicacies.
It is the gateway to Kāpiti Island, one of the country’s oldest nature reserves, home to some of our most beautiful, rare and endangered species. The award-winning reserve offers a magic combination of nature immersion with rich history and sophisticated hospitality.
You can visit the Island for a day, or experience all it has to offer with a stay at the lodge. Take one of the famous night Kiwi spotting tours and hear stories from the hosts whose family have been associated with the Island since 1820.
Surrounding Kāpiti Island is a stunning marine reserve with exceptional diving and snorkelling.
For serious golfers, and also those who enjoy a few holes as part of their holiday mix, close by is the impressive Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, regarded as one of the great links courses in the southern hemisphere.
The next town along the coast heading north is Waikanae. Abounding in delightful gardens, it is home to the serenely beautiful Ngā Manu Nature Reserve and bird sanctuary. See native birds in walk-through aviaries and our oldest reptile the ancient tuatara, and feed sleek long-finned eels.
Waikanae has an appealing town centre with the district’s art gallery Mahara, and an intriguing heritage museum. Waikanae Beach continues the expansive white sand beach offering and there is a laid-back beach settlement. Don’t let the relaxed feel fool you – upmarket eateries, such as Waimea, Long Beach and Front Room have internationally renowned chefs.
Meandering north from Waikanae you find the small beach settlements of Peka Peka and Te Horo epitomising the Coast’s picturesque mix of rural and beach scenery and market gardens selling delicious produce.
The most northerly settlement is Ōtaki. With a strong Māori identity, many locals speak te reo Māori and the town is home to the burgeoning Māoriland Film Festival held in March each year. Ōtaki’s rich history can be seen in some fascinating and beautiful early New Zealand architecture reflecting the strong relationship between local Māori and Pakeha settlers. There is the renowned Rangiātea Church completed in 1851, destroyed by fire in 1995 and painstakingly rebuilt; and the original St Mary's Catholic Church flanked by Māori meeting houses and a French designed colonial presbytery.
A town of three parts – State Highway One has specialty and designer outlet stores punctuated with great cafes; Main Street has a classic New Zealand small town charm also offering some great eating options – and Ōtaki Beach is a glorious sprawling beach with its own surf school and a fabulous kite festival in late summer. A weekend is the perfect time to explore the charms of each of the Kāpiti settlements. Relax and enjoy — you will be very welcome.
KĀPITI COAST Majestic Kāpiti Island watches over 40 kilometres of sheltered white sand beaches.
Lazy dining and mouthwatering local produce are on offer across Kāpiti.
Kāpiti’s stunning natural environment is rich in native wildlife: From top left, our dinosaur descendant the tuatara at Ngā Manu Nature Reserve; and native gecko and ruru on Kāpiti Island.
Buy unique art and crafts from local designers and artists inspired by Kāpiti’s breathtaking landscape.