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Paekākāriki travel guide – More than an unmissable coastal trail

Paekākāriki is a coastal village that’s located on the west coast of the North Island. It’s around a 35-minute drive from the capital of Wellington too which puts it in a great location.

Surrounded by dramatic scenery and offering a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a great place to visit whilst in New Zealand. You’ll also find some awesome things to do here like the Paekākāriki Escarpment Track and visiting the station museum.

This Paekākāriki guide will take you through everything you need to know for your visit here, including the best things to do, where to eat, and other nearby spots to visit.

Things to do in Paekākāriki

Although Paekākāriki is small it’s packed with amazing things to do.

Here are some of the most popular attractions…

The Paekākāriki Escarpment Track

Arguably the most popular thing to do here, the Paekākāriki Escarpment Track is something you just can’t miss. It is easily one of the best walks in the region.

The trail is 9.1 km long and takes around 3-4 hours to complete. You’ll be walking right along the coastline and will be treated to spectacular views from this cliffside trail as you go along.

Access to the track is easy… simply drive or catch the train to either Paekākāriki station or Pukerua Bay station. Then walk to the other train station and catch a train back to your car or back to Wellington (if you’ve made this a day trip from the city).

State Highway 1, Paekākāriki 5034

Two people walking down the stairs built on the side of the mountain that leads to a narrow hanging bridge with a view of the ocean and cars passing along the coastal road.
Paekākāriki Escarpment Track is the main attraction in the area – and it’s worth the trip from Wellington!

Paekākāriki Station Museum

The Paekākāriki Station Museum is home to plenty of artefacts considering it’s housed in a relatively small train station.

Here, you can visit exhibits about Māori history, European settlement, the United States Marines and the railway too.

There’s also a quirky trail signal box which is worth checking out.

20 Tilley Road, State Highway 59, Paekākāriki 5034

The white historic building and red roof of Paekākāriki Station Museum near a steep green mountain and train tracks on both sides under the blue sunny skies.
Photo: Paekākāriki Station Museum.

Paekākāriki Beach

If you’re looking for some downtime then head to Paekākāriki Beach.

You can either relax on golden sands, try your hand at surfing or enjoy the area’s epic sunsets.

Just keep in mind that there’s not much shade there, so you’ll need to pack a hat and wear plenty of sunscreen.

The Parade, Paekākāriki 5034

The waves of Paekākāriki Beach making long strides to the sandy shore with a view of the mountain landscapes far ahead during a cloudy day.
Photo: Stewart Baird.

Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park is one of the most popular parks in the area.

It’s well-liked with walkers, cyclists, dog walkers, and horse riders, so offers something for everyone.

Aside from the fact that there are a variety of trails to choose from, the views from this park are absolutely breathtaking.

It is also home to a US Marine Corps memorial, having been home to a large number of marines during WWII.

Find Queen Elizabeth Park between Paekākāriki and Paraparaumu.

The US Marine Memorial at Queen Elizabeth Park on a sunny day, featuring a boat-shaped structure with a burning front along with facade elements of houses, two flagpoles standing behind the memorial, benches visible on the golden grass to the right, and trees grow on the left side.
Photo: Shellie Evans.

Visit Paekākāriki Art Studios

This unique art gallery is located in the old Holtom’s Building. It’s bright pink so it’s hard to miss – and it’s as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.

Paekākāriki Art Studios is a collective space that displays work from twelve different artists. Thanks to the number of artists, there’s a wide range of artwork, keeping everyone happy.

If you’re looking for a souvenir or a unique gift for friends or family then this is the place to visit.

1 Beach Road, Paekākāriki 5034

Three cars parked clear of the renovation workers and their trucks outside the pink Holtom's Building, as seen from the other side of the road.
Photo: Alan Wehipeihana Studio & Gallery.

Drive along Paekākāriki Hill Road

Paekākāriki Hill Road is undeniably one of the most scenic drives in the North Island. It runs between Pāuatahanui and Paekākāriki and is approximately 17km long.

As you drive along, you’ll be treated to beautiful coastal views so take your time. Just make sure you keep an eye on the road and pull over if you want to take a photo.

Cars pulling over on the side of the road as people step out to admire the breathtaking views of the sea, arching coastal areas, and stunning landscapes.
Pull over and enjoy stunning views on this coastal road. Photo: Robin Capper.

Places to eat in Paekākāriki

Dining in Paekākāriki is fairly limited, but that’s not to say you can’t get a good feed.

These are our top recommendations…

Beach Road Deli

The Beach Road Deli is known for its tasty bagels, freshly baked goods, and breakfast options. However, it’s the pizzas that often steal the show.

This is a popular option for takeouts but you can dine in as well. Just be mindful that there aren’t too many tables, so you’ll need to get there nice and early, or be prepared to wait if they’re busy.

5 Beach Road, Paekākāriki 5034, Kapiti

Finn’s Paekākāriki

Next up we have Finn’s Paekākāriki. It’s a hotel and is your only real option for overnight stays in Paekākāriki unless you’re planning to camp. However, they also have an on-site restaurant.

Here, you can start your day right with a hearty breakfast or treat yourself to a delicious main later on.

2 Beach Road, Paekākāriki

The Perching Parrot Cafe

The Perching Parrot Cafe is located right next to the village’s swimming beach (Paekākāriki Beach) so it’s in a great spot.

Here, you can grab a coffee, try some of their delicious pies, or treat yourself to a cheeky cake.

The staff here are really friendly, so it’s no wonder this place can get busy.

7 Beach Road, Paekākāriki

Fishermans Table Restaurant

The Fishermans Table Restaurant is a great spot. It’s located right above the beach so offers fantastic views and is known for its hearty food.

From its all-you-can-eat salad bar to its dessert menu, there are so many reasons to dine here. You’ll also find plenty of tasty mains too.

29 State Highway 59, Paekakariki, Kapiti Coast

Things to do near Paekākāriki

There’s no denying that Paekākāriki is a quiet, charming village. It’s the perfect spot to relax and hit the walking trails, but there are plenty of nearby places that you can visit too.

You can either head to the below destinations on a day trip or as you’re road-tripping the North Island.

Kāpiti Island

This island is one of the country’s most important nature reserves which makes it a must-visit.

You can expect to see a wide range of wildlife and native birds, including takahē, kākā, kōkako, saddleback/tīeke, kākāriki and much, much more.

Kāpiti Island is rich in history too and can be easily visited on a day trip. You’ll just have to catch the ferry over, and then head out on a tour to explore.

A Kākāriki bird with green feathers, red forehead extending to its eyes, and white beak with a black tip standing on a branch.
Beautiful kākāriki are just one of many birds found on Kāpiti Island.

Wellington

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city. It is known for its wide variety of attractions, culture, nature and delicious food.

Whatever you’re looking for, Wellington has it…

Travelling with kids? No worries.

Keen for a night out? You’ve got it.

In general though, the most popular attractions in and around Wellington include Zealandia, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the Wellington Cable Car and Wētā Workshop.

It is also home to our government building, the Beehive, which we highly recommend touring.

Wellington is a 40-minute drive from Paekākāriki. It is also easily accessible via train.

Red tram moving along the sloping tracks with the view of Wellington and the blue oceans during a beautiful sunny day.
Photo credit: WellingtonNZ.

Remutaka Forest Park

Remutaka Forest Park (previously known as Rimutaka or the Rimutakas) offers some fantastic hiking trails including the Big Bend Track, the Butcher Track and the Catchpool Loop Walk.

This forest park also offers plenty of opportunities for mountain bikers so there’s something for everyone.

You can even camp here if you wish.

Remutaka Forest Park is a 1-hour drive from Paekākāriki.

Coast Road, Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt 5373

A group of hikers each having their own backpacks walking along the Remutaka Forest Park with trees and shrubs on each side of the track.
Remutaka Forest Park hosts some great walking. Photo: Laura Honey (Department of Conservation).

Greytown

This charming town is known for its Victorian buildings, boutique stores and a variety of cafes and restaurants. It was established in 1854, so it’s got quite the history.

Some of the most popular attractions here include the Cobblestones Museum, Schoc Chocolates, and the Greytown Woodside Trail.

Greytown is a 1 hour, 15 minute drive from Paekākāriki.

The white, historic building of Greytown Town Hall, with its arched windows and trees growing in front of its concrete yard.
The Greytown Town Hall. Photo: Simon_Nathan.

Martinborough

Last up we have Martinborough which is located along the country’s classic wine trail. In fact, there are over 20 wineries in this area so you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Many of these wineries are within walking or cycling distance from town so they’re easy to get to.

Martinborough is a 1 hour, 15 minute drive from Paekākāriki.

A man holding a map and a woman looking around while on their mountain bikes as they pass into the entrance of Martinborough Square with its grass covered in dried leaves.
Martinborough Square. Photo: Destination Wairarapa.

Paekākāriki is only small but there are some fantastic things to do there.

Plus, there are plenty of awesome day trip opportunities if you’re not planning to stay overnight.

Have you ever been to Paekākāriki?

If not, we recommend tacking a trip up the coast next time you’re in Wellington.

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