Clarification about visitor numbers on Kapiti Island

Press Release – Department of Conservation
We need to correct a statement made by Victoria University earlier today. In a release promoting one of their art exhibitions, they said the Department of Conservation was going to triple the number of visitor permits issued to Kapiti Island from 10,000 per year to 30,000 and the current facilities are inadequate.

This is incorrect.

The draft Wellington Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) was out for public consultation until April, and is currently with the Wellington Conservation Board for their consideration. The CMS proposes that the island receive visitor limits of up to 160 visitors per day. Annual visitor numbers always depend on factors like weather and tourism.

Rob Stone, DOC Partnerships Manager says, “It’s complicated, but essentially: we increased the daily limit three years ago from 80 per day to 160 although we knew because of factors like the weather, this number would never be reached.

“When the weather is good, more people can enjoy the island, and we wanted them to be able to do so. But because the weather doesn’t allow this every day, the maximum won’t be achieved every year. Not even close.”

On average, the Island gets get less than 10,000 visitors per year.

Around the time we increased the daily number we also spent money on rebuilding the visitor shelter and replacing toilets and adding new facilities such as a new track.

We’re confident that the existing facilities can cater to the current average number of visitors per year.

Rob says, “The island’s biosecurity is good and the current facilities are good. We work closely with residents and with iwi, and we are very mindful of the island’s cultural value and precious biosecurity. Our facilities on the island are 100% up to standard.”

Rob says, as outlined in the CMS, we can see potential for a better visitor experience on the mainland side, and to sell the story of Kapiti Island.

“We’re actively working with Kapiti Coast District Council and iwi to figure out what this might look like. We do want to grow our number of visitors. Kapiti Island is an icon destination and we’d love it if more visitors could experience it – you really do experience the wairua when you go there.”

We support creative input and elegant design solutions, so we welcome the involvement of Wellington’s creative minds and will continue to work with the community on any viable and practical designs.

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