Our trip to Kapiti Island – a native bird sanctuary

Photo credit: Shihying Huang (Mickey)

Campbell students visited Kapiti Island as one of the weekend activities in January 2017. To make sure our students get to view a range of New Zealand’s most endangered and rare birds, our activity coordinator booked in advance for the trip to anticipate the limited number of visitors allowed on the island.

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Kapiti is a small island off the coast of Wellington and can be reached by car or train, followed by a 30-minute boat trip from Paraparaumu Beach.

Kapiti Island is the summit of a submerged mountain range created by earthquakes 200 million years ago. In the early 1800s whaling trade was a major part of Kapiti Island. In 1897 the government acquired most of the island for the purpose of protecting its natural heritage. Now predator-free, Kapiti is an important bird sanctuary.

“My favorite part of the trip was obviously the wild birds, in particular the weka, which was like a turkey and was not afraid of humans and very cheeky. You needed to watch your backpack because they are looking to steal food from it,” shared one of the students Yiming Li. They also had encounters with Bellbird, Tui, the North Island Robin and Kereru (New Zealand’s native pigeon).

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“Kapiti Island is a very interesting place,” added Li. Back in the days farming and trading led to deforestation, “but now the government is restoring the trees, so you can see the process of regeneration. We also learned something about the culture and history of the island.”

Campbell students had the unique opportunity of sharing lunch with a Māori family, the Barretts, who have been living on Kapiti Island since the 1820s. The Barretts offer the only accommodation on the island so visitors can spend a night and hopefully spot one of the 1200 Little Spotted Kiwi birds in their native habitat.

Plan your trip to Kapiti Island. More information is available here