8 Great Things to Do in Waikanae© NZPocketGuide.com
8 Great Things to Do in Waikanae

8 Best Things to Do in Waikanae

© NZPocketGuide.com

Waikanae Activities You Can’t Miss

On Wellington’s coastal district of the Kapiti Coast, Waikanae is deemed as the “garden and bird capital” of the Kapiti Coast. This small town boasts a fine balance of nature activities, such as bush walks and wildlife reserves, and culture with galleries, museums and spectacular cafe culture. If you are in the area around the end of January, don’t miss the Waikanae Lions Super Garden Trail where the most beautiful private gardens open their gates to the public for this must-visit event! However, if you are visiting Waikanae during other times of the year, check out the list below of the top things to do in Waikanae for plenty of activities to keep you busy!

While the list below shows all the best things to do in the town of Waikanae, be sure to explore further afield by using our tips in our 10 Must-Dos on the Kapiti Coast and 8 Excellent Things to Do in Paraparaumu.

1. Walk in the Hemi Matenga Reserve

Head to the hills behind the town of Waikanae for walks and epic views from 500m (1640ft) high. The Hemi Matenga Memorial Park Scenic Reserve holds the most extensive area of kohekohe forest left in New Zealand making the bush walks a must-do! The Kohekohe bushwalk can be done in 30 minutes, while the Parata track leads to an awesome lookout with views overlooking the Kapiti Coast. Combine it with the Te Au Loop for a 3-hour hiking experience.

Location: Accessed via Tui Crescent.

Pseudopanax at en.wikipedia© Pseudopanax at en.wikipedia

2. Check Out the Toi Mahara Gallery

For a bit of culture in your life, visit the Toi Mahara. Toi Mahara is the public art gallery for the Kapiti Coast making it a great place to experience the culture of the Kapiti area. There are about ten different exhibitions displayed throughout the year. The free gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am-4pm. For more galleries and museums in the area, check out the 7 Best Art Galleries & Museums on the Kapiti Coast.

Location: 20 Mahara Place.

Pexels© Pexels

3. Go to Waikanae Beach

The Kapiti Coast has over 40km (25 miles) of beaches to enjoy, including the beauty of Waikanae Beach. Not only is the beach itself a great place to go for a stroll or a swim, but it’s also home to its own little beach-side village with some great places to eat! Check out more awesome beaches in the region with our 10 Beaches in Wellington You Can’t Miss.

Location: Access to the village and beach is via Te Moana Road.

Grutness at English Wikipedia.© Grutness at English Wikipedia.

4. Visit the Kapiti Coast Museum

Learn about the heritage of the Kapiti Coast settlements with relics on display from the pioneer era. The museum is based inside the quaint old post office which is a sight in itself! The museum is open weekends, 2pm-4pm. Otherwise, you can learn about the history of the town on the interpretation panels down Elizabeth Street. See more museums in the area by checking out the 7 Best Art Galleries & Museums on the Kapiti Coast.

Location: 9 Elizabeth Street.

NZPocketGuide.com© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Take a Dip in the Waikanae Pool

When summer hits, don’t miss the outdoor Waikanae Pool! The 33.3m (36.4-yard) lane pool is heated to a comfortable 29ºC (84ºF) and the toddler pool is around 32ºC (90ºF) with a hyroslide! The pool is open November to Easter every year.

Location: Ngarara Road, Waikanae. On the edge of Waikanae Park.

 Grant McLean on Flickr© Grant McLean on Flickr

6. Shop at the Waikanae Market

Every Saturday morning, Waikanae Park is bustling with activity at the weekly Waikanae Market. Get local fresh produce, souvenirs for home and experience a classic Kiwi farmers market! The market runs from 9am to 12pm.

Location: Waikanae Park, Corner Park Avenue and Ngarara Roads.

Pexels© Pexels

7. See Wildlife at the Nga Manu Nature Reserve

Watch the eel feeding, see the “three-eyed lizard” the tuatara, and many native birds in the Nga Manu Nature Reserve. The reserve is set in the largest remnant of coastland lowland swamp forest in Kapiti making it the perfect habitat for New Zealand wildlife. You might even be lucky enough to visit while there are some kiwi in the nocturnal kiwi house. This is a great affordable activity in Waikanae for under NZ$20. Learn more about the New Zealand wildlife in 10 Things You Did Not Know About New Zealand Wildlife.

Location: 74 Nga Manu Reserve Road.

Michael Hamilton on Wikipedia© Michael Hamilton on Wikipedia

8. Walk Along the Waikanae Estuary

For more bird-spotting, take a walk in the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve. It’s home to more than 60 bird species including the banded dotterel, pukeko, dabchick, and variable oystercatcher.

Location: Manly Street North, Paraparaumu Beach.

Gusmonkeyboy de Wikipedia en ingls© Gusmonkeyboy de Wikipedia en inglés

More Things to Do Near Waikanae

That’s it for the best things to do in Waikanae. For more activities on your travels, check out the 51 Best Things to Do in the North Island.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

Was this article useful?


Recommended For You