THE Per­fect week­end get­away

Kāpiti is home to spec­tac­u­lar sea vis­tas and breath­tak­ing sun­sets

Go Travel New Zealand - - Kapiti coast -

Just 35 min­utes’ drive from Welling­ton lies an area of spec­tac­u­lar sea vis­tas, breath­tak­ing sun­sets, un­touched na­tive for­est and dra­matic ranges.

As you en­ter the district and see the mag­nif­i­cent Kāpiti Is­land and 40kms of un­spoilt beach stretch­ing along the coast, a more re­laxed, chilled vibe takes over. But don’t let that fool you. Kāpiti is not just a laid-back beach com­mu­nity. The stun­ning landscape at­tracts artists and en­trepreneurs who help make it a vi­brant, cre­ative area.

What­ever you like to do, Kāpiti has some­thing for you. Some of the best walks, tracks and cy­cle paths in the North Is­land can be found here, from the breath-tak­ing Paekākāriki Es­carp­ment Track nick­named the ‘Stair­way to Heaven’ to chal­leng­ing tramps through the Tararua Range and For­est Park. There is no shortage of ad­ven­tures to be found for the ac­tive vis­i­tor but those who en­joy less stren­u­ous ac­tiv­i­ties will find plenty to see and do.

Kāpiti is home to hun­dreds of artists work­ing in home stu­dios. Their art­works may be homemade but we are not talk­ing homely cro­cheted slip­pers. In­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed ex­quis­ite pieces are made here. To see the best of Kāpiti art, visit the Ar­tel Gallery and Store in Ma­hara Place, Waikanae. They dis­play and sell pre­dom­i­nately lo­cal art works in­clud­ing ce­ram­ics, jew­ellery, paint­ings, sculp­tures, glass, wood and high qual­ity tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary Māori carved pounamu (Jade).

Just vis­it­ing the gallery is an ex­pe­ri­ence by it­self and gives you a real flavour of the Waikanae com­mu­nity. Milo the cat of­ten adorns the counter. She is a lo­cal celebrity after hav­ing gone miss­ing for weeks and a town-wide search un­der­taken, only to be found 60km away. Owner Maude Heath is an artist her­self, work­ing in mixed me­dia. Maude sets the un­pre­ten­tious, wel­com­ing at­mos­phere of the gallery. Her fa­ther, Eric Heath, was the ed­i­to­rial car­toon­ist for the Welling­ton-based Do­min­ion Post news­pa­per for 29 years and is a

Over 60 species of birds can be spotted here in­clud­ing the kākā, hihi ( stitch­bird), kōkako, takehē, weka and tīeke ( sad­dle­back).

pro­lific il­lus­tra­tor and artist. Orig­i­nals and prints of some of his works can be found in the gallery. Open seven days a week, Maude and her team will hap­pily or­gan­ise ship­ping in­ter­na­tion­ally for any­thing you fall in love with on your visit.

For car buffs, Kāpiti has a must visit, South­ward Car Mu­seum, which is just south of Para­pa­raumu town­ship. Hous­ing the largest pri­vate car col­lec­tion in the south­ern hemi­sphere, South­ward boasts over 500 cars and other ve­hi­cles. High­lights in­clude Mar­lene Di­et­rich’s 1934 Cadil­lac Town Cabri­o­let and a 1950 heav­ily ar­moured Cadil­lac that be­longed to gang­ster Mickey Co­hen (and sports some bul­let holes from one of his many al­ter­ca­tions).

A visit to Kāpiti would not be com­plete with­out a trip to Kāpiti Is­land, New Zealand’s old­est na­ture re­serve and home to some of the rarest and most en­dan­gered birds which you can see in their nat­u­ral habi­tat. Here you can ex­pe­ri­ence the beauty of New Zealand as it once was when the birds ruled the land. Just 10km long and 2km wide, Kāpiti Is­land was made a bird sanc­tu­ary in 1897. To­day, the is­land is one of the most im­por­tant sites for bird re­cov­ery. Over 60 species of birds can be spotted here in­clud­ing the kākā, hihi (stitch­bird), kōkako, takehē, weka and tīeke (sad­dle­back). Visi­tors to the is­land fre­quently say they have seen more va­ri­eties of birds here in one day than they have in their life­time.

Be­ware of the mis­chievous and clever kākā (moun­tain par­rot) who will swoop down and open the zip on your bag with its beak in search of food, and the flight­less weka who seems to work in ca­hoots with

the kākā. The weka is a mas­ter at swip­ing things from your bag if you leave it on the ground.

See­ing kiwi in their nat­u­ral habi­tat is an ex­pe­ri­ence not to be missed. Kāpiti Is­land is home to over 1,200 lit­tle spotted kiwi, mak­ing it the dens­est pop­u­la­tion of kiwi in New Zealand. Visi­tors can stay overnight and go kiwi spot­ting with Kāpiti Is­land Na­ture Tours. There is a choice of ac­com­mo­da­tion from ba­sic comfy cab­ins to lux­u­ri­ous glamp­ing in the heart of the bush. Visi­tors en­joy gen­uine

Māori hos­pi­tal­ity, de­li­cious meals which of­ten in­clude lo­cally caught fish and maybe a taste of the unique Kāpiti Is­land manuka honey.

Kāpiti is the birth­place of many greats in­clud­ing Sir Peter Jack­son who started his film mak­ing ca­reer at Kāpiti Col­lege and used Kāpiti as a lo­ca­tion in sev­eral of his films, in­clud­ing King Kong and Lord of the Rings. Many Kāpiti en­trepreneurs say the scenery and at­mos­phere of Kāpiti in­spired them. After a week­end away here, maybe you will be in­spired too.

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