Wellington Scoop

Waikanae and its beautiful birds


by Norma McCallum
Quiz question: Where can you sit in a village square not too far away, with a cup of coffee or an award winning pie, and watch seven tui in a kowhai tree? Answer: Waikanae, a 40 minute trip up the new expressway.

The birds have it in this most beautiful of New Zealand’s small towns: from the majestic spoonbills at the lagoons, and the godwits which visit once a year, to the kiwi, kea and takahe at Nga Manu Sanctuary and of course the tui. They share it with local residents with generosity and verve. The tui, bragging in their gleaming courting outfits, invade the town in spring, swinging from the cherry blossom, singing their croaky hearts out and daring the kereru, who have also come crashing into town, to compete for all the edible goodies.

And once a year, flotillas of toy ducks race down the river to the cheers of local children.


So it made sense that when local artists took to their brushes for some mural ideas, the birds found their way to little laneways in the village centre and onto bridges and walls.

Waikanae also attracts the human godwits – visitors who come to kitesurf, fish, walk bush tracks, visit galleries and the fascinating little museum and the myriad smart or quirky cafes and restaurants.

Can’t manage an island holiday? Too nervous to brave airports? Walk the beach here with a large icecream, take your fish and chips to the lagoons to admire the baby swans or just sit around with that coffee. Just up the road….


The town won Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s Most Beautiful Town Award in 2015, and squads of keen volunteers make sure it lives up to its reputation – beaches are cleaned monthly, tagging outlawed, plantings by the river enhanced. Garden lovers flock to the annual Lions Garden trail and book lovers to the annual Book Fair.

Tired of traffic jams? Need some down time? Get the bikes on the back of the car, pile in the kids, the dog and the camera and get up the road for a day or two. The tui might have moved on but there’s still a lot to enjoy. Come on up!

Norma McCallum has lived in Waikanae for 30 years and spends a lot of time extolling the pleasures of the Kapiti Coast to anyone who will listen.

1 comment:

  1. Neil Douglas, 12. October 2017, 8:17

    Norma – sounds like a good weekend day out for me to do.

    Closer to home for Wellington city dwellers is a garden in Kinross Street nearby the Botanical Gardens / Cemetery which has a big winter-spring flowering gum tree. Between July-November you can watch up to 20 Tuis, fluttering from branch to branch to get nectar and joyfully singing and clucking.