Kāpiti Island from Paekakariki. © MarkB1985

Kāpiti Marine Reserve

View the map


Kāpiti Marine Reserve is popular for its abundant sea life including blue moki, kingfish, seals and dolphins.

It’s also home to some top dive spots in New Zealand, such as the Hole-in-the-Wall underwater archway.

To visit Kāpiti Island or 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. You can also stay overnight on the island with some tours. You can also explore the marine reserve by kayak, but cannot land on the island itself.

On the mainland side of the island, divers and snorkellers can explore the sponge gardens and seaweed beds, while on the exposed seaward side the reef extends to 25 metres.

Kāpiti’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.


Blue Cod, Kāpiti Island Marine Reserve

Blue cod. © Helen Kettles DOC

Explore more...

More stories like this

Find out more


Up the creek: Upper Hutt

The main feature of the district, of course, is the river. Not only does it look good, but the quality of the water is excellent, too.  Read the story . . . 

Find out more

Things to do

Kāpiti Island tracks and walks

Enjoy listening to and spotting birds on a Kāpiti Island walk. Two areas open to the public are Rangatira, halfway along the eastern shore and the northern end of the island. Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Kāpiti Island: birds of paradise

Lying only 15 minutes off Paraparaumu by boat and only 90 minutes north of Wellington by road, Kāpiti Island is New Zealand’s most accessible offshore wildlife sanctuary. Read the story . . . 

Find out more


Kāpiti Coast: from frowning bluffs to ancient rivers

Throughout history, and still to this day, the Kāpiti Coast has remained one of the best places in New Zealand to watch the sunset. Read the story . . . 

AA Members save on selected accommodation with
AA Traveller

AA Members
Book now
Non Members
Book now