Sand Dunes, Sea and Island Spotting on the Kapiti Coast

The Kapiti Coast: Wellington’s fancy seaside district made famous by its ice cream and cheese. That’s where we are today and we can’t wait to start exploring.

Our room in the Moana Lodge couldn’t be more perfect to remind us that we are on the Kapiti Coast with the gentle waves rolling in just across the road from our window. It’s a million-dollar view in a backpacker hostel. We meet the hostel owner, Danny, this morning who saved the budget accommodation from being turned into a private house along with the rest of Plimmerton’s seafront properties, by buying it and establishing it as a backpacker hostel. Good job, Danny!

Coffee drunk, a fruity and honey toastie breakfast eaten, work done, we are ready to hit the road again and backtrack up State Highway 1 to a park that encompasses some of the best of the Kapiti Coast: Queen Elizabeth Park.

Overwhelmed by choice!

Just a 20-minute drive up State Highway 1 had us now staring at an information board in the entrance of Queen Elizabeth Park a bit overwhelmed by the choices of things to do here. There’s horse riding, mountain biking tracks, the beach and numerous walking tracks. Maybe we’ll have a break from horse riding, while Laura’s bum is still a bit bruised, but we’ll enjoy putting one foot in front of the other like nature intended.

Out of heaps of walking tracks, we decide the Coastal Track is the one for us. We’re on the Kapiti Coast for Godssake! It’s a no-brainer. The walking tracks here are very well connected so if we take too long filming and taking photos, we know we can take one of the tracks leading to the inland track that takes us back to the car park in a perfect loop.

Walking on plantiful sand dunes. (We are making plantiful a word). Walking on plantiful sand dunes. (We are making plantiful a word).
Ever seen sand dunes as luscious as this? Ever seen sand dunes as luscious as this?

Sand dunes like we’ve never seen before!

So what’s so special about the Coastal Track in Queen Elizabeth Park? Well it’s going up and down, up and down, up and down some sand dunes. These sand dunes are covered in regenerating bush, returning them to what they once used to look like before us pesky humans chopped all the New Zealand bush down. Our perception of sand dunes has always been dry bare sandy dunes: a landscape of a wasteland. However, plants are thriving on the sand here and birds freakin’ love it! Another perception we had about dunes is that they are a nightmare to climb up. On previous trips in New Zealand, we have experienced how exhausting it is to climb up a sand dune after sand boarding on 90 Mile Beach, but thankfully these walking tracks are all gravelled or have boardwalks for easy strolling. It’s a really a unique walk that we have done in New Zealand!

Kapiti Island views!

At the top of each dune, we are greeted with an awesome view of Kapiti Island! Its silhouette in front of the sun makes it look so close. We are so eager to go visit the island which is a native wildlife sanctuary. But we can’t complain about the view right here. The best way to get a closer look is to take a beach access track off the dunes. Our choice of beach access track couldn’t have been so unlucky (or hilariously fun, depends how you look at it) when we see that part of the dune has collapsed on the beach creating a sheer sand wall. We jump from the dune not really thinking about how we are going to get back up…

Driftwood, driftwood and more driftwood

We have kilometres and kilometres of beach on either side of us, and locals have found this the perfect place to walk their dogs with so many small driftwood sticks. The tide and the driftwood have created all sorts of crazy patterns on the beach. Amongst the driftwood, we find heaps of closed shellfish. We could collect ourselves a feast right here if we wanted! (But we are not sure on the fishing regulations here, so decide against it).

We told you there was a lot of driftwood... We told you there was a lot of driftwood...
... and it goes on forever! ... and it goes on forever!
Mid-winter barbecue time! (Inside because it's winter)... Mid-winter barbecue time! (Inside because it's winter)...

How not to climb a sand wall…

Now that we have had our beach fix, it’s time to figure out how the hell we get back up the sand dune. The simple way would be to walk further along the beach and find a different beach access, but we like to challenge ourselves. Laura goes first, giving Robin the bags, and she tries to run up the sand wall. Nope, you are not Spider-Man, Laura. You’re more like Sandy-Woman now. Next, she tries to create some steps into the wall but they crumble at the weight of her body. Humm, she doesn’t want to destroy the plants that currently regenerating by pulling herself up with them and risk snapping them. What a dickish move that would be! Robin has a look at the plants and being the botanical expert that he is, he identifies them as pests to New Zealand, meaning they are non-native plants that have a negative impact on the native plants. Well then, screw that! Laura grabs ahold of the little f*ckers and slowly pulls herself up the wall with them.

“I made it! Woohoo!” She screams. She reaches out to grab the bags off Robin, but Robin wants to prove his manliness by strapping all our camera equipment to his person while he climbs up. He was inspired by Wayne, the beast of a man we met in the Coromandel.

“This is for you Wayne!” Robin shouts to the sky, then runs at the dune, miserably falling and making a tit of himself. Now that our bags and Robin are covered in sand, he uses the plant-grabbing method and finds himself back on the dune. Pat on the back, Robin. (Not in a congratulatory way, but to literally pat all the sand off his back).

mid-winter BARBECUE

After returning to the car park along the Inland Track, we head back on the road to get back to Moana Lodge for a mid-winter barbecue we’ve organised with some other hostel-dwellers! Robin “bakes” the cookies. (The mix we bought from the Bread Capital. Shhh, don’t tell anyone). And we have a lovely evening eating and bantering.

Join us tomorrow, where we head away from the coast and into the forest… the Adrenalin Forest.

Laura and Robin

Take a look around the Kapiti Coast!
Take a look around the Kapiti Coast! Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Want more?

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See you tomorrow!

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