Kapiti – NZ's bird capital
There's plenty to do in Kapiti, writes Jennie Gutry.
W ith 40km of unspoilt beaches sheltered from prevailing westerly winds by Kapiti Island, to the magnificent, wild landscape of the Tararua Range and Forest Park, Kapiti’s natural beauty is breath-taking. Easily accessed by car, train or air, and just 35 minutes’ drive from Wellington, it is the perfect place for a relaxing break. I first found Kapiti 10 years ago when I was researching online where to live, having been granted New Zealand residency, along with my young family. For a Londoner, being able to live on the coast and get a train to the capital city in less than an hour seemed like paradise. And it really is. Kapiti is so close yet could be a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city. With it’s own airport, it’s only a one hour flight from Auckland, too. Here you will find some of the best tramps, cycle trails and walks in the North Island, boutique shopping, glorious gardens to visit, artists’ studios and places to eat that rival the big city restaurants. Add in the largest car museum in the southern hemisphere, steam trains, trams and aeroplanes, world-renown golf course and adventure sports from land sailing to quad biking, and you will have some idea why Kapiti is such a popular place to visit. For me though, the highlight has to be the birds and there are three special places in
Kapiti you can get up close and personal with them. Just 5km from the mainland, Kapiti Island is New Zealand’s oldest nature reserve (1897) and home to some of our rarest and most endangered birds which you can see in their natural habitat. Here you can experience the beauty of New Zealand as it was, before man came, when the birds ruled the land. The island was declared predator-free in 1998 and today, the island is one of the most important sites for bird recovery. Over 60 species of birds can be spotted here including kaka, hihi (stitchbird), kokako, takehe, pateke (brown teal), weka and tieke (saddleback).