While you’re here, you won’t want to miss –
A short drive north of Wellington will bring you to the Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua region, a favorite recreational spot for Wellingtonians and tourists alike.
Featuring long windswept beaches, scenic walks, museums, shopping and specialty foods, you’ll find so many great things to do on the Kapiti Coast it deserves more than just a day trip. If you do decide to stay longer, plenty of towns – large and small – are dotted along the way to provide accommodation and leisure activities.
Two towns that often give tourists a stumbling block when it comes to pronunciation are Paekakariki and Paraparaumu. Paekakariki, the smaller of the two towns, translated from Māori means “perching place of the kakariki” (a native green parrot). A half hour’s drive from Wellington, it’s a good place for a pit-stop, a cup of coffee and a visit to the steam museum, tramway museum and art gallery.
A bit further up the Kapiti Coast, Paraparaumu is a popular vacation spot with numerous beach-side cottages – known in New Zealand as “baches” – and motels. You’ll find plenty of amenities here including supermarkets, local shops, restaurants, cafes and golf courses.
Visiting Kapiti Island
One of the highlights of a stay on the Kapiti Coast is visiting Kapiti Island.
This is a protected Nature Reserve for endangered native species such as takahe, kokako, little spotted kiwi and kakariki. Island visitors must have a Department of Conservation (DOC) permit and visitors are limited to just 86 people per day.
We can arrange your tour of Kapiti Island on one of the official charter boats that leave from Paraparaumu.
Kapiti Specialty Foods
The Kapiti Coast is famous for its specialty foods. The two most well-known, Kapiti Cheese and Kapiti Ice Cream, are usually found in most supermarkets throughout New Zealand. However, foodies will be pleased to know that there are plenty more Kapiti goodies, like honey and chocolate, sold in specialty food stores along the coast.
For a real gourmet experience visit in November when the annual Kapiti Food Fair is held at the Lindale Center in Paraparaumu. Your taste buds will certainly be tempted with the wide variety of local products all under one roof.
Further up the west coast there are plenty of reasons to visit the Horowhenua district. Otaki is its southern most service town and is considered to have one of the best beaches for sunset viewings. It also has New Zealand’s oldest Catholic Church.
Levin is the main center of the district and close to Lake Papaitonga – known for its Maori historic connections and excellent bird watching. If you’d like to explore the Tararua Ranges, guided day trips are available.
For delicious meals and great service, head over to the Simply Balmy Cafe and Wine Bar at Foxton Beach. While there, you can learn about the town’s flax-milling history at the local museum.
Shannon is known for the Owlcatraz Native Bird & Wildlife Park, a popular stop for both kids and adults. The nocturnal Owl House offers a close-up with New Zealand native owls – the morepork or Ruru – while the Wairuru Caves, filled with glow worms, provide a bit of adventure.
If you’re visiting Wellington and need an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life then a visit to the Kapiti – Horowhenua region is a great option. Nature lovers especially will find a wealth of things to do among the marine, forest and wildlife reserves, as well as the scenic walks in the Tararua Ranges.