A Beaches, Brews and Views Guide to Kāpiti Coast
Kāpiti Coast is renowned for its stunning views, beautiful coastline and petite villages brimming with interesting discoveries. Tucked between the mountainous Tararua Range and the Pacific Ocean, this narrow strip of land is home to creative communities, bakers and brewers, nature lovers and ocean enthusiasts, culinary aficionados and those in search of a slower pace of life.
Words by: Petra Nyman
Photos by: Anna Briggs
Under an hour’s drive from Wellington, this nature wonderland is an easy day trip or a close destination for a longer stay. A huge variety of walking trails await to take you to spots of unrivalled beauty; the coastline invites you to slow down and enjoy the oceanside, and down-to-earth pubs with local brews offer a place to soak up the neighbourhood vibes.
Pack your walking boots and earn some enviable views; bring a beach towel and settle on the sand for a day; or make an evening of bar hop from village to village – whatever is your jam, Kāpiti Coast won’t disappoint.
Paekākāriki Beach and St Peter’s Hall
The walk for ultimate views across the Kāpiti coastline is the Escarpment Track, which runs between Paekākāriki and Pukerua Bay at a length of 9.1km. You can choose to walk it either way, but most people tackle it North to South. Offering some of the most magnificent views of any walking trail in the country, the Escarpment Track will have you climbing to the elevation of 220 metres above sea level and traverse two swing bridges. An absolute must do while in the region.
Once you’ve earned a drink after completing the hike, head on down to St Peter’s Hall in Paekākāriki for a brew and a jig. This iconic community hall is a popular venue for touring musicians, and it also hosts film nights, monthly markets and community events. Check its facebook page to see what’s on, as it only opens for events.
Raumati Beach and Waterfront Bar & Kitchen
Raumati Beach offers a slightly easier walking trail with lovely views of the Kāpiti Island at a lower elevation. The Queen Elizabeth Park Coastal Trail winds through the sand dunes just above the coastline between Raumati South and Paekākāriki. This walk is a single track at a length of 3.7 km and consists of two parts that can either be completed as one or as separate walks, depending on your preference.
Treat yourself to a drink and a bite to eat after the walk at Waterfront Bar & Kitchen. Located right at the beach in Raumati, this is a perfect spot to sit back and take in the elevated views of the coastline and Kāpiti Island. Rotating craft beers on tap along with local Duncan’s Brewing Co. brews will quench a thirst like nothing else.
Paraparaumu Beach and Salty's Diner
Not up for scaling the hills for high-above-views of the coast? Never mind. Head on down to Paraparaumu Beach and take a stroll on the sand along with the locals. This is where you can board a boat to Kāpiti Island, one of the most significant nature reserves in the country (make sure to book ahead), or just enjoy a leisurely ocean front stroll. There’s a nice playground to keep little ones entertained as well at the town end of the beach or if you happen to be in town on the weekend, hit the popular Saturday Market for local goods.
A couple of blocks back from the beach, you’ll find Salty’s Diner – the ultimate destination for a beer and burger combo that won’t disappoint. Fifties vibes, friendly service and a full range of North End brews will keep everyone happy no doubt. There’s a small courtyard in perfect position for afternoon sun, though it's indoors where you’ll get the full experience.
Waikanae Beach and Long Beach Cafe & Tavern or The Salt & Wood Collective
Waikanae Beach offers an effortless way to experience a glimpse of the local nature. The Estuary walk at 1.6 km, is easy enough for any fitness level and an easy walk with little ones in tow. This is a unique area that is home to over sixty species of birds, along with a variety of freshwater and marine fish. Dogs are allowed on this trail as well, but must be kept on lead.
The local’s favourite place to drink and dine at Waikanae Beach is the famous Long Beach Cafe & Tavern. The courtyard is where it's at around here, with overflowing greenery surrounding the tables and a glimpse of the restaurant’s edible garden visible at the back. Or you could make the short trip back to Waikanae and hit up The Salt & Wood Collective for fresh North End brews from its in-house brewery, American-style bbq and burgers that are the talk of town.
Ōtaki Beach and Penray Gardens
Beat the crowds at Ōtaki Beach and take in the epic open landscape it offers. The beach stretches for miles and is popular for walking, swimming and surfing. After a beach walk or a dip in the ocean, head inland to Penray Gardens to pick your own fruit and berries. While there, why not treat yourself to a real fruit ice cream too?
Stock up on a few more picnic items and head over to Waitohu Estuary and Wetlands at the northern end of Ōtaki Beach. The stream flows from the Tararua foothills and links with the Ōtaki river. A good spot for bird spotting and relaxing within a stunning, quiet, natural environment.
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