Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary


WE SEEN KIWIS!!! yeap real Kiwis!!!! sorry I just could not contain myself, I am so excited to tell you about this amazing place !!!

We have visited Kaipupu twice but the first trip was by far the most memorable as we happened to go visit while they had Kiwis nesting at the Sanctuary. It was the first time I had ever seen a kiwi outside of the glass enclosure at a zoo and it was amazing !

​Firstly Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary is a community project which aims to restore a 40 hectare ‘mainland island’ in Picton harbour which is surrounded by a predator fence. You can only access it by water, either by boat or you could kayak around.

​We were lucky enough to go out on one of the Cougar Line family days they do during school holidays. They put on cheaper than normal boat rides to different areas of the sounds, Kaipupu being one of them.


It's a short ride, only 10min around the bay but as always the Marlborough Sounds is just stunning !! Once we arrived we headed up the jetty to start the walk.
We decided on this first trip to head to the left and head uphill first, this was fine. We had my 84 year old Oma with us and it was a bit tough on her but she managed. On our second trip we headed to the right and after now doing both ways I would suggest walking to the right as it is a bit easier, the uphill is more gradual. Either way it is still beautiful !

Along the walk we found nesting boxes put out by the volunteers for the birds. We were told there was a chance we might be able to spot some kiwi’s on the island but we never thought it would actually happen.

First box we came across we very quietly opened the lid, I got into such a fight to see a wee kiwi all tucked up fast asleep – it took all my might not to scream and wake it up!
I thought it was exciting enough to just see the one kiwi and only its bum lol but as we continued around we ended up seeing FIVE in total !! I need to add that they do not always have Kiwis here, we were just incredibly lucky that on our first trip they were at the Sanctuary.


The walk up to the look out if you head right at the start instead of left is steep, it took us about 20min and that was going slow and checking all the boxes on the way. The view from the top was incredible !! we definitely picked an amazing day to visit.

There is a picnic table at the top, it makes a great spot to stop for a bit and take in the view. This is also where you will find the Kiwi Guardian post, we were so excited about the Kiwis that we forgot to take a photo of the post on our first trip. But we visited again with our Kids Conservation Club and I snapped a great photo with all the kids in it.
After the post you gradually head down hill around the other side of the sanctuary. Along here we spotted a wee blue penguin in its box. There is also some pretty amazing bush to see along the way.
Once you are down hill you come out to the predator fence, as you walk along it you get a really neat view of the port at Shakespeare bay. The kids spent a good 15min watching the wood being moved around from pile to pile. It was fascinating, the smell of pine was incredible.

Then it was back around to the start where the jetty is, you can happily play at the jetty in the water for a while spotting sting rays and rock hunting for crabs. Then it is just a short boat ride back to Picton.

​This is definitely a top visit for me for anyone visiting the region, even though the kiwis are not normally there it is still a fantastic day out. You could easily make this a full day out by doing this in the morning and then exploring Picton in the afternoon with a fish and chip lunch on the foreshore.


Munchkin Review 

"Kaipupu is amazing!! I love the boat ride, it was so much fun and we saw Kiwis!!!" Meika O'Donnell aged 5


Kiwi Guardian Link

Adventure Notes


What to Bring

Good walking shoes, water, sunblock in the summer. Togs if you want to have a wee swim at the jetty after.

Time and Distance

The 2.7km loop around the sanctuary took us about an hour, you could definitely spend a lot more time exploring and even having a swim at the boat ramp in summer.

Munchkin Info

Not pram friendly, the first part is steep for young kids but only for a few short minutes.


The sanctuary itself is free but there is a donation box at the boat ramp, cost of the boat ride as at Jan 2020 with Cougar lines Adults $40 kids $20. You can kayak around if you have your own kayak and are confident enough.

Other Info

Boat access only
No Dogs
Keep an eye out for cheap deals over school holidays for bike rides to the sanctuary.
You can kayak to the sanctuary.


- No toilets

Helpful Links