At only 521m, Tuteremoana (the highest point of Kapiti Island), may not be one of New Zealand’s highest peaks, but it is certainly one of its most rewarding. Due to its status as a nature reserve, Kapiti Island is home to an impressive range of native New Zealand birds, and you are likely to come in close contact with many of the island’s feathered residents. Unlike many of New Zealand’s other island nature reserves, Kapiti Island is easily accessible as a day trip from Wellington, and if all that wasn’t enough, a trig lookout platform provides 360 degree views.
|Elevation||521 m (1,709 ft)|
|Location/List||North Island, New Zealand|
|Location Coordinates||40° 50′ 54″ S, 174° 54′ 55″ E|
|Nearest Town/s||Paraparaumu, Wellington
Obtain a Kapiti Island permit
To visit Kapiti Island, you first must obtain a permit from the Department of Conservation (only 50 are available each day). To book your permit, you can use the excellent online DOC Kapiti Island permit booking system, or phone DOC at +64 4 384 7770.
Permits cost $11 for adults, and $5 for children, but make sure you check DOC Kapiti Island for the latest information.
Once you have your permit confirmed, you need to book space on one of the two boat operators that service Kapiti Island. Both services stop at the North End of the island, as well as at Rangatira Point, which is where the trig tracks start from.
For boat bookings contact:
- Kapiti Marine Charter – Ph +64 4 297 2585; Mobile 0274 424 850; Freephone 0800 433 779
- Kapiti Tours Ltd – Freephone 0800 527 484
You will need to phone the boat operators on the morning of the journey, to check that conditions are okay for the crossing (they will give you instructions when you book). Be warned however, that even on a calm day, the the trip across to the island can be an exhilarating experience! The return afternoon journey is typically much smoother though, so you can relax and enjoy your day on the island.
Both boat services depart from the Kapiti Boating Club in Paraparaumu. After exiting State Highway 1 at Paraparaumu, follow Kapiti Rd all the way to Paraparaumu Beach. Turn left at the roundabout on to Marine Parade, and then turn right straight afterwards across to the free carpark near the boat club.
Public Transport to Kapiti Boating Club
You can catch the Paraparaumu line train from Wellington to Paraparaumu station, and then connect with the number 71 bus from Paraparaumu Station to Paraparaumu Beach. Visit Metlink for more information on trains and buses.
Google Earth Map
- You can also
NZ Topographic Map
Our Recommended Route
After your boat lands, you need to make your way to the DOC shelter to listen to the DOC introductory talk. From the beach, follow the sign to the right, and head around to the shelter about 400 metres away from the beach where you landed. (If in doubt, just follow the crowds off the boats, or ask the captain where to go.)
Just before the shelter, you will notice two huge pots. These were used by whalers, for boiling down blubber. In the shelter itself, you will hear the DOC staff explain more about the island’s history, and point out which birds you are likely to see.
Strangely, the way to the trig tracks are not clearly marked from the shelter. However, you simply need to turn right and head past the long drop toilets at the back of the shelter. After a short distance down a grassy pathway (keep an eye out for the rare, and once thought to be extinct, Takahe), you will come to a marker sign indicating both the Wilkinson and Trig Tracks.
Although the Wilkinson Track is the easier and shorter option, we recommend you take the Trig Track up, and then return via Wilkinson Track. As well as creating a loop walk, the tramp up the steep and rough Trig Track gives you more opportunity for getting close to native birds. If you want to do a loop tramp, then this is the way to do it, as coming down the Trig Track would be quite unpleasant (at times it is almost a scramble on the way up).
For about the first hour up the Trig Track, it is a fairly steep clamber through the beautiful temperate rainforest on Kapiti Island’s eastern side. You will eventually come to a Hihi feeding station (and a seat!), and thankfully, the grade becomes slightly more gentle from here on in. Another 20 minutes further up, you will reach the intersection with Wilkinson Track, and there is a picnic table and plenty of seating here. If you haven’t seen any already, Weka like to hang out here.
From the intersection, it is about 20 minutes to the summit. The smell of the long drop indicates you are almost there, and you will emerge into a small clearing with a picnic table (thankfully you can’t smell the longdrop at the summit!). You will immediately notice how quickly the western side of Kapiti Island drops away, so be careful near the edge. Look up behind you, you will see the location of the Tuteremoana Trig, built on top of a lookout structure.
Remember not to feed to the Weka as you eat your lunch in the clearing (even if they are very friendly), and just relax and take in the views.
Allow about two hours to reach the summit via the Trig Track. Even if you can do it faster, make sure you pause often and use your eyes and ears to see what native birds you can spot.
The descent down Wilkinson Track is much easier, and it is more of a well maintained path than a track.
The boats will depart around 3pm, so if you leave at shelter at about 10am, allow 2 hours up, 1 hour at the summit, and at least an hour down (remember to stop and look for birds), you still have about an hour to relax back around the coastline.