Views from high on Kāpiti Island. © Janie Walker

Get up close with the native avian wonders of Kāpiti Island


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Kāpiti Island is one of the few easily accessible offshore nature reserves in New Zealand.

Just 15 minutes – by boat, of course – off the coast of Paraparaumu, the distinctively shaped island can only be accessed by approved tour operators to protect the unique ecosystem.  

While once the island was home to around 2,000 hardy folk in the dark days of whaling, today its only residents are native birds.

Kāpiti Island was designated a bird sanctuary way back in 1897 and thanks to an extensive predator eradication programme, its mature native bush now teems with species that are rare, endangered or virtually unheard of on the mainland.

Fantails flutter alongside kōkako; kiwi and takahē snuffle in the undergrowth, while tūī, saddlebacks and curious kākā soar through the trees. 

The boat ride there and back is rather pretty, too, with the marine reserve around the island home to seals and dolphins.

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