Exploring the Kapiti CoastIf you want to get away from city life, the Nature Coast is just a stone's throw away and it's Wellington 's northern gateway
This region of Kapiti – The Horowhenua – starts from Paekakariki at the southern tip of the Kapiti Coast . Here you can enjoy beautiful beaches, untouched native bush, lakes and rivers. Just offshore, you’ll find Kapiti Island , which is one of New Zealand ‘s most important wildlife sanctuaries and home to little spotted kiwi in their only remaining natural habitat. It’s about 15 minutes away by ferry from Paraparaumu Beach . If you travel through the coastal areas of Raumati, Paraparaumu, Waikanae and Otaki, you’ll get great views of Kapiti Island .
There’s heaps to explore in the area, including amazingly restored trams, accessible nature reserves and great shopping, as well as the Southward Museum, which has one of the largest collections of veteran and vintage cars in the southern hemisphere.
The Nga Manu Nature Reserve in Waikanae is a great place to get up close to lots of New Zealand ‘s unique flora and fauna. Native birds including the kiwi, tui and kea all live at the reserve, along with eels and New Zealand ‘s native lizard, the tuatara.
Make sure you stop off at The Lindale Centre, which is just North of Paraparaumu on State Highway One. It’s a tourist shopping complex with a New Zealand farm theme and you can sample local cheese, candies and ice cream, as well as shop for honey, olives, New Zealand gifts, souvenirs, arts and crafts. There are also farm shows, where you can watch shearing and milking, a talk about farming in New Zealand and the chance to hand milk a cow. Or just mingle with the llama, alpaca, emu and many more farm animals in the yard, including lambs, chickens, ducklings, calves, kids, pigs and rabbits.
There are also heaps of walks in the area, with great walking along the beaches from Paekakariki in the south to Otaki in the north between the rivers. You can check out lots of beachy stuff like sand dunes, amazing golden sands, driftwood, pebbles and heaps of shells
Other walks worth checking out are the Mataihuka Track, the Mt Maunganui Track and the Nikau Reserve. Also, try to make some time to head to Queen Elizabeth Park, Battle Hill Farm Forest Park, Kaitoke Park , and Belmont Regional Park.
Another great day trip from Wellington is the Wairarapa, which is perfectly placed on the classic New Zealand wine trail. It’s just an hour away, but feels a lot further as it’s so peaceful and relaxed, a real chill-out spot. You can also visit the close-by villages of Greytown and Martinborough where you can browse round the boutique shops and vineyards or just watch the world go by.
“a fantastic place to see the seal colony which hangs out on the rocks”
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to get on a mission to charge to the most Easterly point of the Wairarapa, head down to Cape Palliser lighthouse, where you can get great views of the amazing rugged coastline. It’s also a fantastic place to see the seal colony which hangs out on the rocks just off the side of the road. They’re pretty well camouflaged so watch out you don’t get too close as you don’t want to get charged by an angry seal. The hot tip is not to get between the seals and their route to the sea.
It’s also worth taking a trip to Porirua City , North of Wellington, with its amazing coastline, hills and parks. There are lots of great walks and cycle tracks in the area and don’t miss Pukerua Bay, Titanui Bay , Whitby , Papakowhai, Cannons Creek and Ascot Park .
Some of the most scenic places are Pauatahanui Inlet and offshore, Mana Island . The inlet is home to waterfowl and wading birds, and is nationally recognised for its conservation. Mana Island is a 217 hectare scientific reserve, where the giant weta, takahe, birdlife and a range of endangered lizards thrive.
A great place to base yourself while exploring the area North of Wellington is Plimmerton. In the 1930’s Plimmerton was called “The Brighton of the South Seas “. It is now a popular commuter suburb, just a couple of kilometres off State Highway 1 and 20 minutes from Wellington .
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