Nau mai, haere mai

ki Te Waewae-Kapiti-o-Tara-raua-ko-Rangitane

Kapiti Island is the legacy of our whanau – a gift from our tupuna.

Thanks for joining us to discover the taonga that make our home so special. I hope you’ll love it as much as we do.

– John Barrett

Our Tours


Our Taonga

As one of the most important bird recovery sites in Aotearoa–and one of the only sites accessible to the public–Kapiti Island is a pilgrimage we think everyone should make in their lifetime.

Enjoy the joyful birdsong–we have different soundtracks for day and night.

Reminder: Kapiti Island is not a petting zoo. Please don’t feed the birds.

(Really. Please don’t.)


Our Values

We’re guided by three core values:




These are the values that help us to foster deeper connections with our culture, our whenua, and our manuhiri–that’s you.

As guardians of our little piece of paradise, we have a huge responsibility to follow these values faithfully, and to represent the best of te ao Maori: the Maori world.

Our History

Millions of years ago, Kapiti Island was a towering mountain range connected to the mainland through a valley.

In those days, noble moa and gentle kakapo roamed the lush forests in peace.

Kiwis were numbered in the millions, gradually evolving into the flightless, mammal-like icons they would become.

As the sea level rose and flooded the valley, all that was left above water was the summit of that mountain range:

10 km long, 2 km wide, and 1,965 hectares of isolated native bush and native creatures.

Millions of years later, this motu saw the arrival of the Maori people and then the colonial European settlers.

Under Te Rauparaha in the 1800s, this motu sustained both cultures as they hunted the whales to local extinction, and formed strategic–even romantic–alliances. One such alliance was between George Stubbs, an English whaler, and Metapere Wai-Punahau, the young daughter of a prominent Maori family.

These are our tupuna. Their granddaughter, Utauta Parata, is the reason our whanau still hold this piece of paradise today.

The whaling industry died along with the last Southern Right whale to be seen in this area for the next hundred years.

What came next was the clearing of massive areas of land to make way for farming in the 1840s and 50s–up to 90% of the land, in fact.

Kapiti Island family
Kapiti Island family

Some passionate folk realised that we, as a country, were rapidly losing many species that couldn’t be found anywhere else in the world. At one time, 80% of our wildlife was endemic to Aotearoa.

Moves were made, and in 1897, Kapiti Island was reserved as a bird sanctuary.

Richard Henry, one of Aotearoa’s great conservation pioneers, moved here–and lived in the whare at Rangatira–from 1908. Goats were cleared in 1928. Cats, deer, sheep, cattle, pigs, and dogs followed. In a first-ever operation, all 22,500 possums on Kapiti were destroyed by 1986.

In another first for conservation, the Kapiti rat eradication operation in 1996 officially left Kapiti Island predator-free.

What comes next?

It takes work to protect this motu. Lots of work.

You are a part of this work, too…

When you follow our biosecurity checks before you get on board Te Aihe.

When you take your rubbish off the island with you.

When you share your knowledge with friends and whanau back home.

This is mahi you should be proud of, because we rely on it.

The history of Kapiti Island is equal parts noble, violent, and colourful.

If we all play our part now, the future of this motu is bright.

Our Tohu

In te ao Maori, we have a proverb.

“Kāore te kumara e kōrero mō tōna ake reka.”

The sweet potato does not say how sweet he is.

This whakatauki speaks to the humility of kiwis. We have a hard time showing off about ourselves. We’re not quite so humble about our home, though! To us, its the greatest place in the world, and we are proud and honoured to serve its mission.

Some of the most respected organisations in Aotearoa share our love for this motu.


Our Manuhiri

When you visit Kapiti Island, you’re visiting us at home.

It’s our mission to give you an experience that uplifts and empowers you. We hope you go home with a better understanding of conservation, preservation, and whanau.

It sounds complicated, but its not.

Here’s what the Kapiti Island experience looks like, through the eyes of our manuhiri.

5 star ratingJust loved it From the beginning to the end we had a blast: with the people, the island, the birds, the accommodation and the delicious food. We highly recommend the experience and this company: you have great explanation about wildlife by people who... read more

elisegrrrr Avatar

5 star ratingFantastic Family Adventure Such an awesome experience, having been to the main part of the island several times, I was very keen to see the northern end of Kapiti Island and having my son visiting from Canada was the perfect opportunity for a... read more

sherylmZ8274GG Avatar

5 star ratingGreat family island adventure What a gem! Very grateful that this place has been preserved for our native flora and fauna so that we can go and visit.

Great option for a weekend escape with the family. Walking, eating, chatting, and board games.

read more

Fiona H Avatar
Fiona H

5 star ratingBucket List Overnight Stay Everything about our overnight escape was first class from the boat trip over to the welcoming hospitality in the Lodge. Excellent weather made for trouble free walking on the tracks. Trig track could be a challenge in wet... read more

janetkiwi Avatar

5 star ratingBest overnight escape from Wellington Absolutely wonderful. Take the guide's advice and take it slow - you will see much more. Take a red light for the night walk and just relax and enjoy the hospitality. We've had this on our to-do list for ages... read more

Tourist784827 Avatar

5 star ratingKaitiakitanga, Maanakitanga, Kotahitanga A great history of the island (and the region) told without glossing over some of the less palatable aspects. Passionate stories about the flora and fauna. Looked after extremely well by Lisa (chef) Lindsay (lodge host and guide) Tim... read more

Pat J Avatar
Pat J

5 star ratingKapiti Island at last! Having watched this beautiful island from a distance my whole life it was wonderful to have to opportunity to stay on the island, explore and learn about its fascinating history.

I initially thought the price was expensive, but so much...
read more

chillybin69 Avatar

5 star ratingAmazing nature experience with fantastic hosts Amazing bird life and fantastic hosts. I would strongly recommend this trip to anyone who likes nature and is interested in history and Maori culture.

MattC5419 Avatar

5 star ratingGreat experience north end tour Highly recommend, a fabulous experience, very knowledgeable tour guide and outstanding lunch. Communication was excellent. Scenery and bird life exceptional. Great value for the money.

I4502CDchristineb Avatar

Contact Us

We get asked a lot of questions. So don’t be shy to add yours to the mix!

Email, phone, carrier kereru…however you get in touch, we look forward to chatting with you.


0800 527 484

+6427 726 7525