Waikanae is a seaside town located on the Kapiti Coast of the North Island. It is 7km north of Paraparaumu, and 13km south of Otaki. It has a population of approximately 15,500 with numbers swelling considerably on weekends and during holidays. The name Waikanae, is a Maori word meaning ‘The waters of the yellow eyed mullet’.

The local Te Ati Awa Maori tribe has its Marae complex adjacent to the village shopping area. It is called Whakarongotai, which means ‘Listen to the voice of the tides’.



The climate is temperate and fairly dry, with typical summer temperatures of 18 to 28°C and 5 to 18°C in the winter. Waikanae residents pride themselves on their gardens. Most tropical plants survive, providing flowering and colourful gardens throughout the year. Pohutukawa and Norfolk Pines are prominent with a wide range of other native and exotic trees. Waikanae is a safe community, the crime rate is very low, the local people are friendly and hospitable.



Shopping – Waikanae has a variety of shops and services including some lovely boutique shops, gift shops and craft supplies. Car-parking is free. Banking and postal facilities, 2 book shops, 2 second hand shops, plus a library and an information centre can all be found in the central shopping centre just off State Highway 1. There are also 2 supermarkets, 2 chemists, several hairdressers and a barber. Real estate and legal firms, petrol stations, a hardware store, an auto service centre and a veterinary clinic are all close to the shopping centre. A ten minute drive north to Otaki and you can visit the many factory shops and outlet stores for which Otaki is becoming increasingly popular.

Accommodation - There are many options for accommodation in Waikanae and all along the Kapiti Coast: motels, hotels, apartments, bed & breakfast, back-packers, eco-friendly, luxury resort, self-catering, home stays, pet friendly....  we’ve got them all.  El Rancho Camp offers children’s school holiday camps plus a large modern conference venue, and camping and caravaning facilities.

Retirement Villages – Waikanae has a high number of residents aged over 65 years. There are several lovely retirement villages and rest homes on the Kapiti Coast, some with hospital facilities to cater for the later stages of life.


Local Attractions:

Dining – Several lovely bakeries and cafes are located in Waikanae, There are also several restaurants some of which are award winning. For those who like ‘take-aways’ we have some of those too. Many different ethnicities are represented in our dining establishments.

Arts – The Mahara Gallery is situated in the Waikanae shopping centre. There are also several other galleries in the local area displaying beautiful works of art, pottery, ceramics, paintings, drawings, photography, jewelery, sculptures....  the list is endless.

Movies - Waikanae has its own movie theatre adjacent to the shopping centre. There is also a cinema complex in Paraparaumu including a 3D screen.

Markets  - The Waikanae Market is held at Waikanae Park, in Ngarara Road every Saturday from 9am until midday. There is also a market every Saturday morning at Paraparaumu Beach from 9am til noon. Fresh vegetables are available in abundance, plus craft, food stuffs, clothing and second hand goods

Gardening - As gardening is a popular pastime in Waikanae, there are many garden centres in the local area, some with cafes.

There is a beautiful private garden to visit, which is also a popular wedding venue. An annual event in the local area is the Garden Trail held in early November when many private gardens are opened for the public to view.

Nga Manu Nature Reserve – home to some of New Zealand’s rare and endangered flora and fauna. The lovely park-like grounds and facilities allow you to see Kiwi, Tuatara, and more.

The Kapiti Coast

Waikanae on the map
NZ Tuatara

Kapiti Island, situated 5km off the Kapiti Coast, is an internationally recognised nature reserve displaying the unique bio-diversity of the region. The 1,965 hectare island is one of the few island nature reserves in the country. The island, currently administered by the Department of Conservation, is the summit of a submerged mountain range and was first identified as a possible bird sanctuary as early as 1870 and has been reserved for this purpose since 1897. Many of the bird species living on the island are now rare or extinct on mainland New Zealand. A maximum of 50 people can visit the island each day. A permit is required.

Kapiti Island

Whareroa Farm – midway between Raumati South and Paekakariki is open to the public. The scenery along the walking, cycle and horse tracks includes areas of mature kohekohe bush, small streams, hills and picnic areas.  Farm animals can be seen grazing nearby.  The track takes walkers and cyclists right up to Campbell Mill Road, a public cycle, walk and bridle way, with access to the Akatarawa Forest Park. 

Queen Elizabeth Park at the Southern end of Raumati South has walking and cycling tracks through the park and over the sandhills where spectacular views of Kapiti Island can be enjoyed. A spacious picnic area adjacent to the beach is a popular spot for families and groups to gather and kick a ball around. The Wellington Tramway Museum is open Weekends and Public Holidays. The trams run from the Museum near the main highway down to the picnic area at the beach. Queen Elizabeth park is also home to the US Marines’ Memorial.


Annual Events

The Kapiti Arts Trail - which is held on a weekend in early November.

Sustainable Home and Garden show – held in May, Rimu Road, Paraparaumu.

Waikanae show - held annually at the Waikanae Park, Ngarara Road.

Camellia Show - held annually in August, at the Memorial Hall, Waikanae

The Garden Trail – held on a weekend in January.

NZ Kiwi

Sport and Recreation

The Kapiti Coast offers safe swimming beaches with excellent fishing and diving areas, particularly around Kapiti Island. We have 46 km of beautiful beach to enjoy with a fabulous view out to the picturesque Kapiti Island.

Sporting facilities are extensive, and within a short travel distance. There are 2 large swimming pools and several fitness centres plus tennis and squash courts.

Waikanae has an attractive golf course and there are 3 others within a 30 minute drive. The Paraparaumu Beach Links Golf Course is the only New Zealand course rated amongst the world’s top 100.

Children's parks and playgrounds are dotted through the area. Marine Gardens at Raumati Beach, McLean Park at Paraparaumu Beach and Waikanae Park in Park Road, Waikanae are popular family destinations.

There are many walking trails through the native bush, wetlands, parks and reserves. Walk alongside the Waikanae River or along the board walk and track which snakes its way across the Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve. Walk the Centennial Highway route up above the railway lines and enjoy the spectacular views between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay. There are numerous other trails up into the hills for more of a challenge. All levels of fitness are catered for.

Cycle trails follow the coastline from one end of the Kapiti Coast to the other. The tracks are well formed and the scenery spectacular.

Waikanae is also handy to the Tararua Ranges, which provide wonderful opportunities for tramping from day trips to week long expeditions. The Otaki River is suitable for white water rafting and kayaking and there are many good mountain biking opportunities in the area.


Rental housing in the area starts from around $280 per week depending on location, house size etc.



A state kindergarten and Montessori centre offer pre-school education. Waikanae also has three preschool day-care centres with excellent reputations. There are numerous Kindergartens, playcentres and daycare centres on the Kapiti Coast.

There are two excellent local primary schools in Waikanae; Waikanae School and Kapanui School, plus several in Raumati and Paraparaumu. The two secondary schools in Paraparaumu: Paraparaumu College and Kapiti College. There are also private (day or boarding) schools available in Wellington easily accessible by public transport.

Whiteriea Polytechnic has campuses in both Paraparaumu and Porirua. Universities are located in both Wellington and Palmerston North.


As Waikanae is located on the main North/South highway, most inter-city bus services pass through Waikanae, as does the main trunk railway line. The electric train line which connects Waikanae with Wellington (and many towns in between), runs hourly from 5am to midnight, and half hourly at peak commuter times.



A more comprehensive shopping experience, with a large mall and a cinema complex, can be enjoyed in Paraparaumu. There are also two amateur dramatic theatres.  Our local airport in the heart of Paraparaumu facilitates flights to Auckland and Nelson daily. Private use by gliding and flying enthusiasts make it a busy little airport, especially in the weekends.



An hour away by train, Wellington has a beautiful harbour, superb arts and culture and numerous restaurants and cafes. It boasts several theatres (Opera, Ballet, Plays) and a large concert hall. The bi-annual, three week Arts Festival draws many international performers. Our ‘state of the art’ national museum, Te Papa, was opened in 1998 and exhibits international  works of art as well as national art, history and educational displays.The Westpac Stadium holds many international sporting and cultural events throughout the year. The famous Basin Reserve cricket grounds are located in central Wellington.

At the north end of Wellington city, are 2 ferry terminals connecting the North and South Islands. Ferries loaded with passengers, cargo and vehicles depart for Picton in the Marlborough Sounds several times daily. Wellington airport, with both domestic and international terminals, is located on the southern coast of Wellington.

Travel times to other towns & destinations

Kapiti view




Approximate time




15 minutes

Palmerston North



1 hour

Mount Ruapehu Ski Fields



4 hours




4.5 hours

Rotorua  (thermal area)



5 hours




7.5 hours

Napier, Hawkes Bay



3.5 hours

Martinborough (NZ red wine district)



1.5 hours




10 minutes

Wellington City



50 minutes

Wellington International Airport



1 hour

Link to our Facebook page
Waikanae Health

“More than just a regular GP service”

Link to our Blog
Small logo