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Barely a 30-minute drive south of Napier, Cape Sanctuary just might be the most underrated spot on Hawkes Bay!

The private owners of the Cape Sanctuary peninsula live with the hope of restoring coastal communities that once roamed freely, in about 50 years.

Today, the Cape Sanctuary Walk is an exclusive chance to catch glimpses of takahe, tuatara, kiwi, seabirds or even the splendid kakariki! 

Here are five reasons why this rugged peninsula is unmissable:

1. The Sheer Size

Cape Sanctuary Beach

Courtesy: Simon Cartwright Photography 

At 2,400 hectares, Cape Sanctuary is the largest private wildlife restoration project in NZ!

In fact, Cape Sanctuary is only slightly smaller than Little Barrier Island in size!

Given the size, a restoration project that began 13 years ago has suffered hundreds of setbacks.

Staying true to its name, however, Cape Sanctuary today is a literal haven for indigenous insects, birds and reptiles.

In a Hawkes Bay nook renowned for its large farms, Cape Sanctuary is proof that conservation can thrive in agricultural landscapes.

2. Heaven for Birds

Cape Sanctuary Birds

Along the beach of Cape Sanctuary, you can see over 150 wooden boxes lodged into the sand.

Although they may look like traps on first glance, they are in fact lodgings that have been set up for nesting penguins!

According to a 2018 estimate, 16,000 gannets nest in Cape Sanctuary, making it the largest mainland gannet colony on the planet!

The beach is a breeding ground for Variable oystercatchers and NZ Dotterels (of which there are only about 1,500 remaining in NZ).

The expectation is that the Cape will soon be home to over 60 kiwis, with the numbers expected to grow over the years.

Remarkably, the survival rate of Kiwi eggs inside Cape Sanctuary sits at 85%, while outside it is barely 5%!

3. Ain’t No Rest for Pests

Traps for pest control

Courtesy: Simon Cartwright Photography

For pests, Cape Sanctuary can be a dangerous place.

The perimeter of the Cape has a fence so big, it took an entire year to lay it out along nearly 11 kilometres!

Standing at nearly two metres tall, most pests are kept out by the chainmail-design, other than in certain blind spots.

Altogether, there are 1,200 traps for ferrets and weasels, as well as 2,500 traps for rats and mice!

Just to maintain the traps, there are two full-time employees in Cape Sanctuary!

The sustained predator control efforts have seen possums, a notorious raider of bird nests for eggs, almost completely vanish from this peninsula.

4. The Wildlife is Back! 

Wildlife Hawkes Bay

Brown teal or pāteke had been absent from the Cape Sanctuary part of the peninsula for over a century.

In 2018, however, conservation efforts saw to it that 30 pāteke could be released to live on their own!

While only one pair of NZ dotterel could manage to mate in the first year of introduction, that increased to 7 pairs in just a year!

An increase in Tomtit’s and NZ Robin’s are also remarkable achievements considering the pests they have to deal with in such a large area.

5. The Cape Sanctuary Charity Walk

The owners of the Cape Sanctuary peninsula are gracious enough to open up their land to visitors every year, for the Cape Sanctuary Charity Walk headed by Parkinson’s HB.

While there are two walking options available, one is significantly tougher as it rises to as much as 250 metres.

This year, the Cape Sanctuary Charity Walk is taking place on Saturday, March 21, 2020.

With tickets limited to between 250-300 people, don’t miss out on the opportunity to lose yourself in this tremendously beautiful walk.

Your $50 ticket includes a scrumptious lunch, so make the booking for an unforgettable Hawkes Bay day trip!

While the beauty of the Cape Sanctuary is often focused upon, the story of how private farmland can be restored with enough determination is an inspiration to New Zealand.

The Cape Sanctuary Charity Walk represents a chance to immerse yourself in the best of Hawkes Bay!

Get in Touch

If you’d like to contact our charity and avail of our free services, then give us a call on 04 801 8850 today!

To find out whom to contact and what services are available in your area, simply head over to Regional Support.

If you’d like to show your support to the service we provide to people with Parkinson’s, then kindly make a donation!

How can Parkinson’s New Zealand help?

We offer professional support to people living with Parkinson’s

Our team of Parkinson’s Community Educators develop high-quality medical care plans, while also providing in-depth information.

They connect people with Parkinson’s to speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.

Parkinson’s NZ also runs networking support groups and exercise classes, while also offering physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, as well as art/music therapy sessions to members.