It was only another short drive to our next destination, Paraparumu, from where we would visit Kapiti Island one of NZ's most important wild life sanctuaries.This being a public holiday weekend for the Queen's birthday - which the Kiwis are very happy to celebrate as they get a day off! - we'd booked into a youth hostel (Barnacles Seaside Inn).We'd also made sure to book our trip over to the island for which we were required to purchase a permit from the Department of Conservation because only 50 people are allowed to visit each day.But first of all, after settling in at the hostel we had a free afternoon on our hands so, finding that there was a 9-hole golf course with reasonable green fees in town we set off to have a look.It looked a nice enough wee course but the weather was looking ominous so we weren't sure about playing.But a local wifie, seeing our indecision, said that by her reckoning it wouldn't rain because you could see the hills so go for it.We so enjoyed our round that we decided we'd play again on Tuesday and promptly booked a tee-off time. Monday morning it was up at 7am to a very miserable day and a quick call to the boat people confirmed that the trip over to Kapiti was cancelled due to bad weather.So it was back to bed for lie in - great!After a lazy morning watching the rain sweeping across the water, and sometimes battering our window, M ventured out for a short walk.Then a quick decision was made to go to the local cinema to see the latest Indiana Jones film.What better way to spend a cold, wet Monday holiday - and the film wasn't bad too.There were only a handful of people staying in the hostel, five of us travellers and one long term resident called Ross who cooked up a roast pork dinner and invited everyone to share it, and Gina the manager provided pudding.It was a very nice way to spend the evening.
Typically, Tuesday morning dawned clear and sunny and after a quick phone call to the boat people we were on for the trip to Kapiti Island.After a quick breakfast, a quick phone call to cancel the golf and a sandwich quickly thrown together for lunch, we headed across the road to board the boat in the car park - never done that before - which was perched on the back of trailer and was then towed into the sea.
After a brief talk by one of the DOC rangers about the island's history and uniqueness particularly now that pests and non-indigenous animals have been eradicated, we set off quickly up the track.One reason for our quick getaway was that we'd been joined by a boatload of school kids with teachers and parents.Bird song was very much in evidence - we'd been told earlier that prior to the Europeans the bird song was the equivalent of 15 cathedral choirs.After deforestation and the introduction of predators this had reduced to about 1, but fortunately it has now increased to about 5 and they hope to get back to 15 in the next ten years.We saw quite a few birds but didn't manage to see any Lesser Spotted Kiwi or other birds unique to the island on our walk to, and return from the summit.It was however a stiff climb with fairly rewarding views from the top as cloud and weather came in.It was a really nice day and Kapiti is a very worthwhile environmental project but it's a pity it costs as much as $55 per person for a 15 minute boat trip.This price by a private operator is hard to reconcile but is probably down to the fact that only 50 people are allowed to visit the island each day.Some of the cost might also be as a result of recent fuel price increases but $55 is a bit hard to swallow.
E & M xxx