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Kapiti Marine Reserve is popular for its abundant sea life including blue moki, kingfish, seals and dolphins. It's also home for some top dive spots include the Hole-in-the-Wall underwater archway.

Place overview


  • Boating
  • Diving and snorkelling
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Swimming

Find things to do Kapiti Marine Reserve

    Guided activities

    Diving, snorkelling and swimming

    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.

    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.


    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.

    Kayaking and canoeing

    Bring your kayak to explore the marine reserve but note you cannot land on Kapiti Island. 

    About this place

    History and culture

    Getting there

    Kapiti Marine Reserve is 30 km from Wellington city and is located between Paraparaumu and Waikanae beaches and Kapiti Island.

    The marine reserve touches the mainland at the Waikanae River mouth. Foot access to the reserve is from Waikanae Beach or Paraparaumu Beach on either side of the Waikanae Estuary and river mouth. There are walking tracks through Waikanae Estuary.

    Know before you go

    If you would like to visit Kapiti Island or wish to snorkel from its shores, you need to travel to the island with one of the authorised boat services and ensure you have a valid day visit permit. See Kapiti Island Nature Reserve for more information about visiting the island. 


    Kapiti Wellington Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 4 384 7770
    Address:   18 Manners Street
    Full office details
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