On the west coast, 50km north of Wellington is the Kapiti Coast. Regardless of the season, it's a great place for Wellingtonians and visitors from further afield to escape their busy lives. There is 40 kilometres of unspoilt beach, wide expanses of bush, and many small townships with welcoming communities. Whether you're wanting adventure or rest and relaxation, you'll find it here. Keep reading to find out our favourite things to see, do, and eat on the Kapiti Coast.
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Adventure: Kapiti Island
Kapiti Island, off the Kapiti coast, is one of New Zealand’s most accessible nature reserves. The tranquil island is a sanctuary for New Zealand’s native birds such as the kaka, takahe, and little brown kiwi. Access the island via ferry through an approved tour operator, such as Kapiti Explorer & Marine Charter or Kapiti Island Nature Tours, and wander through native forest or climb the island’s highest peak (521m) for panoramic views. For more information, visit the DOC website.
Relax: Peka Peka Beach
This white sand beach with grassy sand dunes at its rear is perfect for long walks, playing beach sport, and blow carting (when the conditions are right). It's a safe swimming beach with a surf break that's perfectly suited to beginner and intermediate surfers, boogie boarders, and body surfers. In the evening, pick up some fish and chips from nearby Waikanae Beach Takeaways and enjoy while watching the sunset over Kapiti Island. Discover our other favourite spots to enjoy fish and chips on the beach here
Drink: Tuatara Brewery
Tuatara is a cult craft beer brand, named after the endemic New Zealand lizard-like reptile. It's unique craft beers have earned the brewery the Champion New Zealand Brewery Award at the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards twice. At the brewery's tap room in Paraparaumu, you can rub shoulders with the brewers and sample the full range of craft beers. If you've got an hour, we really recommend booking in for a tasting experience. You'll have the history of craft beer and the various styles of beer explained to you, get a comprehensive introduction to the brewing process, and be given a close up look at the raw ingredients used to create the unique brews. Of course, you'll also get to sample a selection of Tuatara's creations with delicious canapes to match. Before leaving, don't forget to pick up some of your favourite brew to enjoy at home later!
Please drink responsibly.
Shop: Otaki Outlets
Halfway between Wellington and Palmerston North on State Highway 1 is Otaki. With a population just shy of 6000, this small town must have one of the highest numbers of outlet stores per capita in the world! If you're passing through, you should stop to search for some bargains on sporting goods and apparel at a range of outlets including Kathmandu, Bendon, Amazon, Icebreaker, Zierra, and Rembrandt.
Active: Paekakariki Escarpment Track
The best hike in close proximity to Wellington is definitely the Paekakariki Escarpment Track. As part of the much longer Te Araroa walkway, this 10km track runs along the west coast from Paekakariki down to Pukerua Bay. You'll pass through coastal bush, over swing-bridges, around rock faces, and ascend to a maximum of 220 metres above sea level. Note that this not a loop track, so you'll need to leave a car at one end or catch the train back to your car. The trail is very exposed, which makes for stunning views, but means it's susceptible to the effects of all weather conditions. Remember to check the weather before you head out and be prepared for changes in conditions.
For more information, see the Te Araroa website.
Art: Kapiti Coast Arts Trail
The Kapiti Coast has a thriving and talented artistic community creating art across a diverse range of mediums. Visit studios and galleries in Kāpiti, Ōtaki, Paekākāriki and beyond on the annual Kapiti Arts Trail event organised by the region's council. See work exhibited by more than 100 established and emerging artists and have the unique opportunity to chat with them about their work and creative processes. Any other time of the year, the guidebook from the event can be used for self-guided tours.
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