The Kāpiti Coast’s network of trails gives the Barber family a chance to exercise, connect and create memories together
Kāpiti coasters Leo Barber, his wife Delwyn and their teenagers Joseph, Lorna, Jessica and Wilson are making a concerted effort to explore trails on their back doorstep.
Living just minutes from the region’s vast network of trails for walking, biking and even horse riding, it’s not difficult.
“Walking or cycling the trails that are only 10 minutes from our house gives us a sense of escape from the everyday,” says Leo.
“As a family it’s something we can do together regardless of ability and it’s a time to make memories together. When we include [our furry friend] Humphrey, the happiness it brings him, in turn, reflects back on us all and radiates the joy.”
Abundance of trails to enjoy
With more than 100km of tracks on offer, the Kāpiti Coast’s trails are both safe and within easy reach of all ages and abilities.
Among the Barbers’ favourites are Barry Hadfield Nikau Reserve, which meanders through 11 acres of remnant nikau and kohekohe bush to a stepped climb to a summit that boasts panoramic views over the Kāpiti Coast.
The family also enjoys the Escarpment Track, dubbed “stairway to heaven”, which runs from Paekākāriki to Pukerua Bay and also takes in views of the coastline and Kapiti Island.
“It’s a great late afternoon walk, starting from Paekākāriki, to catch the setting sun over the South Island.”
They favour the loop trails at Queen Elizabeth Park too, 650ha of regional park that features sand dunes and wetlands, or the Waikanae River Trail, particularly the Manly Street to Otaihanga Bridge return trip.
Regardless of how short or long our walks/cycles are, there’s always a form of accomplishment, and a chance to use the sights and sounds of nature to mentally release.
Lockdowns prompt new discoveries
The Barber family started exploring their local trails during Covid lockdowns, venturing mostly on to the Kāpiti cycle route that runs parallel with the Kāpiti Expressway through wetlands, bush and sand hills from Raumati South to Te Horo.
Depending on time and energy levels, they’d vary their walks/rides and veer on to adjacent tracks to further explore their region.
“Our short loop was a quick 15min stretch before tea, leaving home on bikes with the dog in tow… there are just so many possibilities to extend our outings, you can bite off as much as you can handle.
“In changing trails, you quickly change scenery and you don’t have to cycle the Tour de France to do so!”
It’s not uncommon for Leo, Delwyn and their teens to take a short detour from the trails to refuel and relax.
There are ample options, and the trails they choose usually dictate where they end up – Tuatara Brewery for adult refreshments and fizzy and pizza for the kids, Harrisons Garden Centre, Long Beach Tavern for its renown pizza, and Hey Coastie Eatery are all popular choices.
All these variations use the Kāpiti Expressway Trail as its spine.
“There are lots of food and beverage options that can be worked in as a mid-journey rest or an after-activity treat.”