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Kapiti Island north end open to public

Kapiti Island north end open to public

14 sep 2006

The public can now visit the north end of Kapiti Island under a permitting system designed to safeguard conservation values while enhancing the visitor experience on this internationally-renowned conservation icon.

A visitor shelter and toilets have been built near the boat landing site and a 4km loop track has been constructed up the Okupe Valley to the ridgetop and back, with a lookout point with stunning views of the surrounding area, including Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu. With a gentle gradient, this day visitor track provides easy access through variety of landscapes starting with the coastal environment and Okupe Lagoon and then through regenerating forest of five finger and mahoe followed by a more mature forest comprising kohekohe and tawa. It culminates in a coastal cliff overlooking Cook Strait. The track was constructed by Wellington company Technico Site Services Limited

"It offers a new perspective on Kapiti Island, one of our national treasures," Kapiti Area manager Ian Cooksley said.

"The landscape and views at the north end are very different to those of the nature reserve at Rangatira."

The north end landscape incorporates the freshwater Okupe Lagoon where royal spoonbills, herons and the rare brown teal can be seen in their natural habitat. Shags, white-fronted terns, reef herons and oystercatchers may also appear on the northern coastal track which is open during non bird breeding times between April – October.

Takahe, weka, kakariki and North Island robin inhabit the coastal and shrubland habitats and tui, bellbirds, kaka and kereru can be seen and heard in the regenerating forests.

Details of the resident wildlife, the island’s colourful history and the importance of predator-free islands are outlined in the introductory talk given to visitors at the new visitor shelter on their arrival to the island.

Built by Levin builder Rod Feasey, the shelter was designed by Taupo architect Fraser Cameron to fit the contours of the island, withstand high winds and corrosion, and blend in with the surrounding environment. The colours of the roof and timber match the greens and browns of the surrounding environment.

"We’ve taken advantage of the natural features of the island and sited it in a depression, to help protect it from the extreme marine environment and make it less obtrusive," Mr Cooksley said.

Eighteen permits are on offer to the public daily and can be obtained from the Department of Conservation’s Wellington Visitor Centre. Phone +64 4 472-7356.

ENDS

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