Kapiti Island
Image: Sarah Wilcox | Creative Commons


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
  • Marine reserves
    Protect our marine reserves

    They are special places that protect the species and habitats within them.

    • No fishing of any kind
    • Don't take or kill marine life
    • Don't remove or disturb any marine life or materials
    • Don't feed fish - it disturbs their natural behaviour
    • Take care when anchoring to avoid damaging the sea floor
    • Call 0800 DOC HOT (0800 362 468) to report any illegal activity

Find things to do Kapiti Marine Reserve


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. 

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    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
    Email:   wellingtonvc@doc.govt.nz
    Address:   18 - 32 Manners Street
    Full office details
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