Image: Sarah Wilcox | Creative Commons
Located in the Wellington/Kapiti region
Kāpiti Marine Reserve connects Kāpiti Island Nature Reserve with the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve. This brings two major sea currents together: the cold southern current and the warm d’Urville current. This results in a unique environment, full of species that are typically only found further south or further north.
The reserve is one of DOC and Air NZ’s Marine Sentinel Sites. Working with researchers, citizen scientists and those with rights over tribal land (mana whenua) we’re learning all we can to help our oceans. Find out more.
Under the waves around Kāpiti Island are a huge variety of sea-beds. These include soft sediments with burrowing crabs and sea cucumbers, and beds of seaweed providing habitat for fish and kōura (rock lobster).
There are also stretches of sea anemones that snapper feed on. And deep rocky reefs encrusted with sponges. Rare rhodolith beds (or ‘ocean tumbleweeds’) are also found here, which provide for a huge diversity of wildlife.
You can explore under the waves with LEARNZ virtual field trip.
Kororā return a nesting site at the reserve every year. They come to hatch their eggs often just meters from where they were raised. When they’re breeding, they’re at their most vulnerable. Meeting people, roads, and dogs can threaten their survival.
You might see them at the reserve when they’re ashore between May and June or November and March. Remember to give them plenty of space as they’re easily disturbed. If you want to see them up close, check out the Kapiti Kororā Cam.
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.
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.