Merry Christmas to all our read­ers


Yes, that’s a cruise ship off your beach.

Kapiti Coast­ers will get a chance to see a cruise ship an­chored off­shore as the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion looks to lure vis­i­tors to New Zealand’s nat­u­ral hot-spots.

On Tues­day DOC con­firmed a cruise ship, the Caledonian Sky, would be an­chor­ing and vis­it­ing Kapiti Is­land on Christmas Day

Op­er­a­tions man­ager Jack Mace said the 91 me­tre ship would not be al­lowed to an­chor in the marine re­serve near the is­land, or dis­charge any ef­flu­ent.

‘‘So al­though this will be an un­usual sight, peo­ple can be as­sured that the visit is al­lowed.’’

The cruise ship would ferry be­tween 60 to 80 pas­sen­gers by boat to the shore, where Kapiti Is­land Na­ture Tours would pro­vide sev­eral hours of guided walk­ing on the preda­tor-free sanc­tu­ary, Mace said.

‘‘DOC will work with the tour op­er­a­tor, the cruise com­pany and their pas­sen­gers to en­sure the strict biose­cu­rity code of the is­land is main­tained. Ex­tra con­di­tions have been ap­plied to the op­er­a­tor’s per­mit to make sure biose­cu­rity is up­held.’’

Mace said Kapiti Is­land was ‘‘a real gem – a unique ex­am­ple of the land New Zealand once was’’.

The is­land is five kilo­me­tres from the main­land, and is con­sid­ered one of the coun­try’s most ac­ces­si­ble na­ture re­serves, with rare birds such as kiwi, takahe and kaka.

Kapiti Is­land Na­ture Tours owner-op­er­a­tor John Bar­rett said it would be the third time in the past 30 years a ship of that size had stopped at Kapiti Is­land, and the group was pre­pared for it.

‘‘We deal with groups that size and big­ger vir­tu­ally ev­ery day. The only dif­fer­ences are that it’s Christmas day and they’re com­ing ashore us­ing Zo­di­acs.’’

Al­most 100 pas­sen­gers are on board the Caledonian Sky, with the vis­it­ing group likely to go onto Kapiti Is­land at about 2pm.

Bar­rett said the ship would an­chor in the chan­nel be­tween the main­land and the is­land, about two kilo­me­tres from the is­land.

Pas­sen­gers would re­quire a per­mit to land un­der strict con­di­tions of en­try.

Th­ese would in­clude thor­oughly clean­ing boots and walk­ing poles, and in­spect­ing packs and pock­ets for stow-away seeds, soil, and in­va­sive an­i­mals, he said.

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