Grabaseat Destination: Paraparaumu

The Kapiti Coast is Wellington’s backyard, but many in the capital only know the place names from radio traffic reports. Pauatahanui, Paekakariki, Paremata, Pukerua Bay, Plimmerton … it’s much more fun visiting all those famous P’s in person than hearing some part-time DJ mangle them every 15 minutes during your morning commute.

Kapiti Island is the Coast’s star attraction – a world-class offshore sanctuary for some of the planet’s most rare and endangered birds.  You can see it looming large from pretty much anywhere along the 40km of Kapiti coastline, or visit it on a guided tour and have a wander round. Careful what you bring in your backpack though, some loser recently managed to unwittingly bring a couple of live stoats on board with him, setting things on the island back quite a great deal. Honestly, some people need eradicating as much as those noxious rodents do. 

If the name Kapiti is familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve come across Kapiti Cheese or Ice Cream over the years. It’s delicious stuff, and if you know anyone posh enough to buy it on a regular basis then you should definitely stay friends with them, if only for the edible treats they bring to the relationship. You can visit the flagship store near Paraparaumu, which most locals pronounce as ‘paraparam’. Then again most locals pronounce New Zealand as ‘New Zild’ – but that doesn’t make it right.

Paraparaumu Golf Course is one of the best in the country – Tiger Woods played here a few years ago, and although we later found out that he liked to punctuate his golf tournaments with glamorous cocktail waitresses, we doubt he got up to much mischief at local nightspot the Hummer Bar and Grill.

If you’re desperate for nightlife, Wellington is just 40 minutes drive, but really the Coast is mostly about getting away from it all: strolling along the beach, quadbiking through the forest or paddling about in a canoe. The weather is much better than in Wellington, but if it does rain you should check out Southwards Car Museum, where 350 vintage automobiles remind you of a time when your car said something about you, other than “I have no taste or self respect.”