Road Trip: Day 3 - Kapiti Island

Today's post will be mostly pictures. There simply won't be enough words to describe the beauty of what we saw today. As mentioned yesterday Kapiti Island is a bird sanctuary. Here you can find kiwi, weka, kaka, fantails and many more rare and common native birds of New Zealand. There is also a group of 7 Takahe on the island, a flightless bird similar to the Pukeko.

We were among the few lucky ones today who actually got to see a Takahe! We were just about to get back to the beach and hop on the boat back to the mainland when a rather big specimen suddenly appeared in the bush! Unfortunately it was too fast for our cameras. It was feeding hard out, but before we managed to get a good shot it ran back into the bush. Great experience anyway :-)

To get to Kapiti Island you can chose between 3 companies to take you over. They all have the same price (currently $75 per adult). We managed to get a short-notice ticket with Kapiti Tours. Not only were they really friendly and gave us some good discounts - it is actually a family business run by descendants of Ngati Toa Chief Te Rauparaha who once conquered the island and made it is home before the Europeans arrived! Our tour guide Hohepa knew heaps about the history of the Maori, showed us the best spots for birds, knew exactly which ones to look for and what sounds they made... it was an unforgettable experience. Matt and I both got a student discount ($65) for the ferry ticket and also half price for the hourly tour around the base of the island (usually $20 per person).

Hohepa also took us half way up the island and kept pointing out interesting trees, rare birds and told us one story after the other. For those of you who didn't know - Maori used to be cannibals. Instead of taking prisoners they used to eat their enemies. They would dig a hole and start a fire with hot stones at the bottom (hangi style), then bury the bodies (alive) of their captives upright with only the head looking out. When the head fell off it would be ready to eat. Quite gruesome, but when you think about what used to go on in the Middle Ages in Europe... not too much different, really, with the witch hunts and the Romans spearing heads on stakes etc...

Anyway... back to Kapiti Island. If you don't stop on the way it takes 2 hours to make it all the way to the top. It's quite steep, but a proper track and we had no trouble getting up there in our jandals. The view from the top is breath-taking! But see for yourself...


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