Since it was Jamie’s birthday and the weather was starting to get a little nicer, we got up early one Sunday for a trip to Kapiti Island.
The island is around an hour north of Wellington by car and only accessible by boat. Thankfully it’s only about 5km from the shore, so the boat crossing takes just 10 minutes. Consequently it’s so close that it’s hard to take a good photo of. I imagine the island is most well known in New Zealand for the ice cream bearing its name and its very distinctive outline!
Once you arrive, you walk off the beach straight into some grass land. The first thing you notice are the sounds of birds echoing from the trees. In New Zealand a lot of the bird life is completely useless at defending itself, mostly birds just stand around holding a sign saying “EAT ME!”
Far in the past this wasn’t a problem, because nothing wanted to eat the birds. However once humans settled in New Zealand, they brought with them hungry animals (like rats, stoats and dogs) which lead to extinction in many cases.
The modern solution to this problem is to create conservation areas free from predators where birds can once again roam happily. Kapiti Island is one of these places. The island has been completely eradicated of predators and the bird life is booming.
One such bird is the takahē, a rare flightless bird. They wander around the grass land foraging for food without a care in the world. I was really excited to see this bird, due to the fact there’s only around 250 of them left on the entire planet!
But what’s rarer than a takahē?
Takahē having sex! Boo yah! I guess they’re not shy about doing it in front of people. If I was an evil predator I could have easily grabbed them both for dinner. Instead we headed to see a bird that would rather grab our dinner!
The kākā. (Not to be mistaken for the Brazilian footballer.) These beautiful parrots seem to be very keen to meet people. Probably because people = tasty food.
They’re a little too keen, and as soon as you get your food out they jump on you. Like so.
It actually started to peck away at my bag and attempted to unzip it. They’re incredibly smart birds, but not smart enough to get my food.
Due to the lack of predators in New Zealand, many of the birds have evolved to become flightless. I guess flying isn’t really needed if nothing is chasing you. The kererū (or New Zealand pigeons) on the island are still evolving that way.
Some of them are so big that it’s hard to believe they can still fly.
Many of the birds on the island have gotten used to humans and it’s pretty easy to take photos of them as they get so close.
Let’s take a break from all of these birds, and have the obligatory handstand photo.
If birds aren’t your thing, don’t worry, Kapiti Island has some great walks. You can head through the dense podocarp forest to go to the top of the island. On the way up there are some nice views across to the mainland.
Once you reach the top of the mountain you get some nice views of the North and South Island. I must say I was a little disappointed by the top as the view is mostly obscured by trees and there’s not much to take a good photo of.
So we took a selfie.
Still, it wasn’t a horrible place to have a picnic. But we weren’t alone. A few weka had managed to make their way up to the top as well.
The weka is another flightless bird. They run around quickly, and seem a lot like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park. As you walk around the island they’ll suddenly jump out in front of you giving you a fright. Or while you’re eating lunch they’ll sneak up to try and steal your sandwiches. They’re not shy at all, but I liked this photo as it looks like it’s waiting to pounce.
After we reached the summit, we went back down to the beach to relax for a bit. We saw some bird prints that I thought were cool. Possibly from a weka or even a kiwi.
The boat dropped us off in the morning at around 9:30 and we had until 3:00 to explore, which was plenty of time to see all of the island at a gentle pace.
Kapiti Island is a must-do in New Zealand. Have you ever visited?