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.