Report by Jackie Elliott
Kāpiti Island guide and Ōtaki Community Board member)
This weekend sees a new era of increased public access to Kāpiti Island. The Conservation Department (DOC) is increasing visitor numbers to 150 per day from the previous 86. And this will apply for 363 days of the year.
Previously the limit was 50 day permits for the Nature reserve and 18 for the North End (raised to 36 for the North End last summer).
But on January 31, DOC will cease paying wages for the two guides required for daily bio security checks and for accompanying visitors on the island.
The Online Booking system will also close and DOC’s $11.20 per adult permit levy will rise to $28.75 per head.
As a result of these changes, the cost of a day trip for a family of four is likely to rise from the current $224.00 to over $320.00 just to cover new overheads.
My personal view (and speaking as a guide) is that it is a concern to us all that ordinary Kiwi families may now be unable to afford to visit Kapiti because of the cost — and so they will miss out on this iconic visitor experience on their own doorsteps.
This report was first published in the Kapiti Independent