Our lovely family gave us a voucher for a day trip to Kapiti Island for Christmas which we made use of on our last visit to Wellington. The weather started out a bit dodgy with a slightly rough sea and we couldn’t actually see the island when we left the mainland.
Kapiti Island is only 5 km off the west coast of the lower North Island. 10 km long and 2km wide, the island is a 1,965 hectare nature reserve that has been predator free since 1998. You need a permit to land and must inspect your bags and footwear for rodents, seeds, ants and soil before boarding your boat. It’s worth the effort. The island is pristine.
We went with Kapiti Island Eco Experience on the Kiwi Express, launching from the beach at Paraparaumu. Coops runs a very efficient operation ensuring his guests have an ‘awesome and safe experience’. He gave a short speech about safety and the island’s history and passed around a folder with more information if we wanted it.
Then we were off with Master Skipper Mark at the helm. It was a bit of a trick launching the boat backwards through the surf but we made it. Experience counts at times like this.
The 20 minute trip was a little rocky and rolly but as we neared the island, the sea flattened out and landing on the beach was a breeze. Didn’t even get our feet wet.
We had 5 hours ashore and after a talk from guide Robert about the plant and bird life we were likely to see, we zigzagged up 521m above sea level to the summit, Tuteremoana on Wilkinson’s Track, a walk of just under 2 hours. We walked the last third in light rain and at the top were shrouded in mist so couldn’t enjoy the view.
The bird life was amazing; we saw kaka trying to steal lunch from unwary visitors, kereru (wood pigeon), bush robins (toutouwai) everywhere, bellbirds (korimako), tui, stitchbirds (hihi), saddlebacks (tieke) and a cheeky weka that fancied our Girl Guide biscuits. Feeding the birds is strictly prohibited though.
We’d hoped to see or hear kokako. There are about 20 pairs on the island but they were either busy or hanging out at the other end. In the early 90s, DOC took 5 kokako from our place to Kapiti in an effort to preserve our diminishing population. They are very likely deceased by now but their progeny should still be there.
By the time we got back down, the sun was out and we sat on the beach and ate our lunch.
Not a bad spot to have lunch.
The boat picked us up at 2.30 and we cruised back to the mainland on an oily smooth sea in brilliant sunshine. To top off the wonderful day, a pod of dolphins crossed our path on the way back.