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Kapiti Island: 2 …must come down

We strode back down the track to the intersection of Wilkinson and Trig, turning right into the latter. It was more rustic than the earlier path though there was still a vaguely discernible track.

Not that way. The other way

Not that way. The other way

Markers were useful, until they seemed to disappear

Markers were useful, until they seemed to disappear

With camera in hand I wandered along much as I had on the way up, gazing out and up more than down. Then I tripped on one of the many exposed tree roots and thought I had better be more attentive.

However the track was damp and slippery from recent rain and best endeavours to be careful and sure-footed still didn’t save me from another couple of trips and falls. (More from good luck than good management my camera and dodgy wrist escaped intact.) Mike it transpires could be part-mountain goat and he almost skipped down the treacherous path.

Kapiti Island Trig Track

The brochure compared the Trig track to the other: “Considerably steeper, with narrow, uneven sections.” Pretty accurate really. Later we surmised that it could have been the original track up to the summit.

It was a good call that we didn’t walk up this way.

A feed station... I would never have called myself a bird watcher but we did stop here for 5 mins (when in Rome and all that)

A feed station… I would never have called myself a bird watcher but we did stop here for 5 mins (when in Rome and all that)

Success! A female stitchbird, also known as hihi. One of NZ's rarest birds

Success! A female stitchbird, also known as hihi. One of NZ’s rarest birds

The track was only 2km long and when the terrain started to even out it was a good clue we were nearing the end. This also boded well for my chances of staying upright.

Nikau palm, Kapiti Island

The bush-surrounded seat is a memorial to Flying Officer R M Jones of the RNZAF who died in WW2. Apparently the seat once had a view of the sea - you'd never believe it now

The bush-surrounded seat is a memorial to Flying Officer R M Jones of the RNZAF who died in WW2. Apparently the seat once had a view of the sea – you’d never believe it now

Yep. Cheers.

Yep. Cheers.

A kaka, or large brown bush parrot. Not in the least bit timid, around us 2-legged folk at least

A kaka, or large brown bush parrot. Not in the least bit timid, around us 2-legged folk at least

The kaka was quite happy in his tree but I’ve seen photos of them perched on people. In my last post, another blogger commented that one had bit her lip as it sat on her while she was eating a cracker!

Kapiti Island vegetation

There was enough time before the ferry was due to have a decent walk around. We were keen to find some takahe but they weren’t keen to find us and stayed well hidden. Not to worry, there was plenty of amazing vegetation to take in and the inevitable bird or two of varieties that weren’t playing hard to get.

A house for DOC staff peeks through the trees

A house for DOC staff peeks through the trees

Kapiti Island vegetation

The pot is a relic from whaling days

The pot is a relic from whaling days

Kapiti Island sign

A young tui

A young tui

Another young tui I think, though bird expert I am not

Another young tui I think, though bird expert I am not

Kapiti Island looking back to mainland

The high tide line is thick with driftwood

The high tide line is thick with driftwood

Another weka, just to round out the bird gallery

Another weka, just to round out the bird gallery

The ferry arrived and we stepped off Kapiti Island.

Boarding Kapiti Island ferry

As something of a bonus we tracked north along the eastern shore to collect visitors from the North End, which gave us a peek there. The island’s only accommodation is here (on private land that has been looked after by the same family since the 1820s) as are a few other walks. Another day maybe.

Kapiti Island: 1 – what goes up…

A few months ago I notched up my 10th year of living in Wellington and realised I still hadn’t been to Kapiti Island.

One of the region’s best regarded features, Kapiti Island is a beautiful nature reserve managed by the Department of Conservation and is renowned as a bird sanctuary. Its iconic profile is prominent as you drive along State Highway 1.

Kapiti Island

Why had I been so slack? It’s not like it’s far away, being only a few kms off Paraparaumu Beach on the Kapiti Coast, which on a good day is about 45 mins drive north from Wellington city. But quite often it’s the stuff on your doorstep you don’t get round to doing.

I did try once before, a few years ago. The logistics involve booking a permit, a ferry ride that is quite weather sensitive, and an early start. The sailings were cancelled on the day I booked and I never got round to rescheduling.

What finally spurred me into action was a hefty price increase! With a short time horizon, Mike and I synchronised calendars and booked. But this attempt was another dud as the early morning phone call confirmed the ferry was again cancelled. We were down to just one more compatible day before the price hike.

And finally, a slightly kinder forecast meant that it was on. Early one Sunday in late January we shot off up the coast to find the Kapiti Boating Club.

Paraparaumu Beach. It wasn't a stellar day but if the weather was good enough for the boats to run, it would be good enough for us

Paraparaumu Beach. It wasn’t a stellar day but if the weather was good enough for the boats to run, it would be good enough for us

On account of the looming price rise, the charter company said this was their biggest ever day for passengers. As a result they had to run a second early sailing and we had been put on the second. I wasn’t too happy about that as our return time was unchanged meaning we’d have less time on the island. I wanted to walk up to the highest point and the published times suggested this was going to be pretty tight.

A sperm whale had beached here not long before our visit. The carcass had been taken for burial but a sign remained warning about possible nasties

A sperm whale had beached here not long before our visit. The carcass had been taken for burial but a sign remained warning about possible nasties

When it was time we all walked across the beach to the boat, still on its trailer at that stage. The launching process was unusual in that regard but soon enough we were making our way across the choppy waters.

Boarding the ferry. The boats are launched off the beach using tractors

Boarding the ferry. The boats are launched off the beach using tractors

There are two destinations on Kapiti Island to choose from. We were going to Rangatira, roughly half way along the eastern shore, where up to 50 people can visit per day. Turns out we were the only two of our sailing getting off here. North End is the other stop where 18 visitors per day are permitted.

It was just the two of us disembarking at Rangatira and after we scurried off the boat promptly pulled away

It was just the two of us disembarking at Rangatira and after we scurried off the boat promptly pulled away

Before long we were intercepted by a DOC ranger who took us to the visitor centre

Before long we were intercepted by a DOC ranger who took us to the visitor centre

With time a bit scarce I was keen to find the track and get going. But first we sat through the talk, which went a bit quicker with just the two of us. She said the previous session was with 40 people.

Which got us thinking. Maybe our later arrival would be to our advantage as we wouldn’t be caught up with the ‘crowds’.

First weka encounter during the introductory talk

First weka encounter during the introductory talk

Finally we were released. There are two paths up to the top: the 3.8km Wilkinson Track and the 2km Trig Track. The brochure said they take the same amount of time. We tossed the figurative coin and turned up the longer track.

Later on we’d thank ourselves we did.

A peek across to the mainland

A peek across to the mainland

Zig zagging up the Wilkinson Track

Zig zagging up the Wilkinson Track

Kapiti Island tree

It was a beautiful walk. We’d get the occasional peak out across the water but for the most part we were enclosed in some of the most gorgeous native bush you’ll find in NZ. We didn’t make too much effort to find or see birds, that wasn’t really why we were there, so unless they jumped out and waved hello (which they didn’t) we would be oblivious to their presence.

Kapiti Island tree with holes

Traps are set up to help ensure the island remains pest free

Traps are set up to help ensure the island remains pest free

After powering up the hill, pausing numerous times for photos, passing a couple of rowdy family groups, we came to the intersection where both tracks meet and you make the final trudge up to the summit.

We arrived at the summit well inside the two hour guideline, hungry and ready to sit down. Momentarily taken aback at how many people were in the small clearing, we headed on up to the trig lookout. It wasn’t the clearest of days but it was a unique vantage point here at Tuteremoana with views both west out to the Tasman Sea and east back to the mainland.

The lunch break was occupied with chewing and more weka watching.

View from Tuteremoana, the summit

View from Tuteremoana, the summit

View from Tuteremoana, Kapiti Island

Trig at the summit

Trig at the summit

Quite crowded at the top

Quite crowded at the top

Excellent place for another weka close encounter

Excellent place for another weka close encounter

With an eye on the clock we didn’t stay too long, keen to get back down and explore the flat. Mike suggested we take the Trig Track and yep, that seemed a good idea to me. Of course I didn’t know then what I would soon be finding out.

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