Wellington Scoop

Up the coast: a trip to Japan

cherry blossom in Waikanae

by Norma McCallum
So, your trip to Japan’s cherry blossom festival ended up in the ‘cancelled’ tray? That’s a shame, but there is an alternative.

It may not include Japanese women in kimonos, or even nights sleeping on the floor at pretty little inns. But you’ll see plenty of blossoms if you plan a day in Waikanae.

Here only an hour from the city you will find streets full of delicate pink blossom; the long road to the sea is edged with the beauty you thought you might only find in Japan.

While you could keep to the main roads – you should also go exploring along the side streets, find pretty pink and white school entrances and driveways, gardens where loveliness peeks over fences and takes your breath away.

And it’s not just the cherry trees. Waikanae has some of the most beautiful trees in the region. The bush walks up Hemi Matenga can be anything between 20 minutes to 3 hours with views of Kapiti Island and as far as Mount Taranaki or the Sounds on a fine day.

Art and fashion more your thing? Sit in the recently re-designed Mahara Place with your coffee before exploring Mahara Gallery and boutique shopping. And just up the road, the charming little Kapiti Coast Museum opposite one of the town’s best cafes is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

You were looking forward to the food? Well, here in Waikanae you will find more than ten ethnic cafes and restaurants from Indian to Italian. Down at the beach the Four Square, winner of a Best Small Business Award, specialises in Asian food ready to take across the road to the best beach in the region.

Oh, all right admit it – it was the airline food you were after? But think of how healthy your bank account will look after your trip to Waikanae, only an hour up the expressway from Wellington. And the photos will look good too.


  1. greenwelly, 20. October 2020, 21:04

    only an hour up the expressway from Wellington.
    Or a simple trip to the end of the Kapiti line … The station is just opposite Mahara Place…

  2. Rosamund, 21. October 2020, 9:01

    Why is Metlink/NZ Rail installing icy cold, perforated seats (!) at its stations? I would like to see the return of backed wooden benches for the comfort of travellers. The dark shelter at Crofton Downs has also been furnished (!) with icy cold metal seats. Once it was an open wooden shelter that caught the sun…now it’s freezing cold inside and ironically warmer outside. Another waste of our money like the rusty metal seats on Point Jerningham which are set to alienate those wishing for repose. Bring back wooden benches and shelters, please.