Kapiti Island Nature Reserve
Located in the Wellington/Kapiti region
IntroductionKapiti Island is a tranquil island bird sanctuary and one of New Zealand’s most accessible nature reserves. It's a unique visitor experience in a predator-free paradise. Access is by approved tour operators only.
Get up close and personal with rare birds such as kākā, kōkako, takahē and hihi. Wander tracks fringed with dense forest or climb the 521 m peak for panoramic views.
Find things to do and places to stay Kapiti Island Nature Reserve
For bird spotters and nature lovers, a visit to Kapiti Island offers a rewarding and memorable experience. Visitors can take themselves around the island or enjoy a guided tour with one of the commercial operators, who have an extensive knowledge of flora, fauna and history of the island.
In the forest and shrubland you’ll find tūī, bellbirds, weka, kākā, kererū and North Island robins. Saddlebacks, stitchbirds and takahē are also often seen.
Along the coast, you’ll spot shag and gull species, white-fronted terns, variable oystercatchers and reef herons. On the lagoon at the north end of the island, look out for scaups, grey teals and brown teals, black swans and royal spoonbills.
Home to over 1400 little spotted kiwi, a night visit to Kapiti Island offers visitors to chance to see the iconic New Zealand bird in their natural habitat.
Kākā at sunset on Kapiti Island.
Approved commercial tour operators (click 'commercial operators' above) provide transport and tours of Kapiti Island. The island is a popular destination all year round so bookings for the popular summer season need to be made in advance.
Access by permit only
Private boats, kayaks, jet-skis, paddleboards, swimmers and any other form of private vessel must not land at Kapiti Island Nature Reserve. No one can land on the island without a permit.
Boat departure and parking
Boats depart from the Kapiti Boating Club at 1 Manly Road, Paraparaumu Beach. This is about a one hour drive north of Wellington.
To get there from the Paraparaumu traffic lights, turn into Kapiti Road and continue to the beach. The Boating Club is at the end of Kapiti Road.
Visitors to Kapiti Island can park at the Kapiti Boating Club or in the carpark across the stream from the club.
Trips to the island are weather dependent. Contact the tourism provider on the morning of your trip for a weather check and to confirm the departure time.
What to bring
- Your own lunch and drinking water. All water on the island is untreated.
- Sturdy footwear.
- Warm clothing and a waterproof jacket as weather can change quickly.
On the island
- A shelter and toilets are available on the Island.
- After landing, go to the public shelter to listen to the introductory talk. This will explain conditions of entry and safety on the island, as well as information about flora, fauna, and human history.
- Keep to marked tracks.
- Ensure that your belongings are placed out of reach of weka and kaka. They are very inquisitive and expert at getting into bags.
- Be ready to leave the island at the departure time announced by your boat skipper.
- Overnight stays are not permitted within the nature reserve on the island. Some of the island is in private ownership. On this land Kapiti Island Nature Tours offers a homestay option for visitors.
- All fires, including barbecues and cooking stoves, are not allowed.
- Smoking is strictly prohibited at all times.
- Everything on the island is protected, and nothing may be removed - including plant material, insects, lizards, birds, feathers and shells.
- Do not feed birds and other wildlife.
- Remove all your rubbish from the island. Carry out what you carry in.
- Do not take pets to Kapiti Island.
School groups on educational visits are eligible for discounts. Ask your tourism provider for more information.
Bags will be inspected and unpacked before boarding the boat.
Speed up this process by checking and cleaning your gear before you arrive at the boat. Ensure that your clothing, footwear and luggage is free of pests and plant material including seeds and foliage.
Once checked, keep your bags tightly closed and keep food supplies in sealed containers.
Kapiti Island is host to one of the largest accessible island bird sanctuaries in New Zealand, set in one of the nation’s most valuable nature reserves. Read about nature on Kapiti Island.
Kapiti Island has rich Māori and colonial heritage. It also has the oldest building associated with nature conservation in New Zealand. Read about Kapiti Island's history.