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.