Diver amongst Ecklonia radiata
seaweed, Kapiti Island Marine Reserve
Diving, snorkelling and swimming
The reserve covers two areas – a small section to the north of the seaward side of the island, and a larger section between the protected areas of Kapiti Island and Waikanae Estuary. Its cross shelf continuum of habitats is unique in a mainland marine reserve.
The marine reserve is popular with divers. On the exposed seaward side of the island, the reef extends to 25 m and divers can pass through the underwater Hole in the Wall.
On the mainland side, divers and snorkelers can explore the sponge gardens and seaweed beds.
Residents of Kapiti's waters include reef fish like blue moki, kingfish and various rays and sometimes rare and subtropical fish such as the spotted black groper. Protected great white sharks and basking sharks have occasionally been sighted by divers around the island.
Whales and dolphins are regular visitors and many seabirds can be seen too, such as gulls, gannets, penguins and perhaps a fairy prion or Arctic skua and flocks of terns feeding on sprats
Boating is also permitted in the reserve. When boating in these waters please advise a responsible person of your intentions, including your destination and intended time of return. VHF radio users should note that on the western side of Kapiti Island transmission is often difficult.
Kapiti Island and its surrounding waters are noted for strong tidal rips and changeable weather - sea conditions can quickly become treacherous. Obtain an up-to-date marine forecast before boating in the reserve.
Within the marine reserve, plants and animals may not be removed or damaged. Surveillance and enforcement of the reserve is carried out by the Department of Conservation. Warranted officers undertake regular patrols.
Kayaking is also permitted in the reserve.
Visitors may not land on Kapiti Island without a permit from the Department of Conservation.