Paraparaumu is the departure point for one of Wellington's best-kept secrets: Kapiti Island. The island has been a protected reserve since 1897 and is a fantastic place to hike. All pests have been eliminated from the island, and birdlife flourishes, including saddlebacks, stitchbirds, and colonies of little spotted and South Island brown kiwi. Don't be surprised if a curious and fearless weka bird investigates your daypack or unties your shoelaces. Climb to the more than 1,700-feet-high Tuteremoana lookout point.
The island's most famous inhabitant was the Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha, who took the island by ruse in 1822. From this stronghold, he launched bloodthirsty raids before he was captured in 1846. He died in 1849, but his burial place is a mystery. Old tri-pots (used for melting down whale blubber) on the island bear testimony to the fact that Kapiti was also used as a whaling station in the late 19th century.