svg rectangle color
Kāpiti Coast DistrictPopulation forecast

Kāpiti Coast District

Drivers of population change

Development history

The Kāpiti Coast District is located on the south-western coast of the lower North Island, about 50 kilometres north of the Wellington CBD. It includes the towns of Te Horo, Waikanae, Paraparaumu, Raumati Beach, Ōtaki, and Raumati South, and smaller localities such as Emerald Glen, Lindale, Maungakotukutuku, Otaihanga, and Pekapeka. Paraparaumu is the most populous of these towns and the commercial and administrative centre. Much of the rural land is given over to horticulture and market gardens, which are common along the highway between the settlements.

The tāngata whenua of the district are Te Āti Awa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, including whānau and hapū. In the 1820-1830s, they were firmly established in the district and were signatories to the Treaty of Waitangi at the following locations: on board the ship "The Ariel" at Port Nicholson in Wellington (29 April 1840), Queen Charlotte Sounds (4 May 1840), Rangitoto (d’Urville Island) (11 May 1840), Kāpiti Island (14 May 1840),Waikanae (16 May 1840), Ōtaki (19 May 1840), Manawatū (26 May 1840), Motungarara Island (4 June 1840), Guards Bay and Cloudy Bay (Te Koko-a-Kupe) in Te Tau Ihu (17 June 1840), Mana Island (19 June 1840), and again on Kāpiti Island (19 June 1840). Around 1822, Europeans began whaling in the area, and in 1839, William Wakefield of the New Zealand Company arrived in the Kāpiti region to purchase land for permanent European settlement. In the 1840s British settlers arrived at Wellington and Whanganui. A Wellington to Whanganui overland mail service was established in 1842, linking the few European settlers and missionaries. Some sheep farms, both Māori and Pākehā, were established from Paekākāriki to the Manawatū River in the 1850s-1870s period and Māori and Pākehā traded produce to Wellington using the beach as a highway. Small coastal vessels carried goods and passengers from the estuaries of the Waikanae, Ōtaki and Waikawa Rivers.

From 1866, a regular coach service operated, with Ōtaki and Paekākāriki serving as centres for inns, trade and mail. European settlement of the Kāpiti Coast only took place on a significant scale after a railway was built from Wellington to Longburn, just south of Palmerston North. The line was opened in 1886, with the final spike driven in on the Kāpiti Coast at Otaihanga. Dairy farming became dominant around the same time, with factories at Paraparaumu, Te Horo and Ōtaki. Horticulture flourished around Ōtaki.

In the early 1900s, the district developed as a series of seaside resorts. In 1940 Paraparaumu airport opened, handling passengers and freight for Wellington. Secondary industry developed at Ōtaki and Paraparaumu. From the 1950s, the more stable climate attracted retired Wellingtonians and commuters, which led to a house building boom. In 1969, the Coastlands shopping mall opened at Paraparaumu. It was then among the few retail centres allowed to trade on Saturdays, and proved a magnet for the region’s shoppers. In the early 21st century, the Kāpiti economy was among the fastest growing in New Zealand. Growth was driven by the manufacturing, building and business services sectors.

The Kāpiti Coast District has developed into several townships and localities – a coastal haven and retreat for visitors and holidaymakers, but also a home for retirees and those seeking a change of lifestyle. It is an expanding and growing part of Greater Wellington, with a group of satellite towns that also interact with the rest of the district. The urban areas comprise a series of small beach and inland settlements which have, over time, expanded and become interlinked, particularly on an east-west road network.

The layout and features of the residential environments vary from those that have retained qualities which are reminiscent of small communities (e.g. older beach areas like Raumati South) to newer developments of a relatively generic and suburban form (e.g. newer parts of Paraparaumu). The population of the Kāpiti District has been growing steadily in the past 30 years. In 1981, the population of the district was just over 26,000 and increased to almost 35,000 a decade later. In 2001, the population of the district was 43,600 and, as of the latest 2013 Census, the population grew even more to 50,700.

Migration patterns

In the post war period and after 1960, economic and population growth in the Kāpiti Coast District were rapid. City commuters travelled daily by bus to Paekākāriki and by train to Wellington. Farms were broken up for housing in Paraparaumu township, Paraparaumu Beach South and Paraparaumu Beach North. Building and related trades flourished with the Te Roto industrial park in Paraparaumu being developed. From 1953 to 1983, 12 schools opened, including two colleges. The 1990s marked a period where the population growth rates here were among the highest in New Zealand. Several retirement villages were built in that time.

The Kāpiti Coast is linked to the Wellington region via the transport system, the urban system, and the labour market and employment system. The district attracts young couples without children looking for a place to purchase a home and start a family as well as attracting young and established families with young children. The Kāpiti Coast District also attracts retired people, and residents aged 65 or older made up 25.3% of the population in 2013 – twice the average of the rest of the Wellington region. By 2043, the proportion of residents aged over 65 years is expected to be 34% of the entire Kāpiti Coast population – that is just over 20,000 people. The northern part of the district has economic, social and historic ties to parts of Horowhenua. Kāpiti Coast District’s rural areas have many commonalities with the Horowhenua rural communities and economy.

In the last few decades, the Kāpiti Coast District has gained new residents from many different places in the region and further away in New Zealand as well as overseas. The Kāpiti Coast District also lost residents to different places in the country. Usually, internal migration (within a local territorial authority (TA), region or country) is strongly influenced by age – that is people moving to and from different places based on their life stage.

In the 2008-2013 period, the Kāpiti Coast District gained 975 residents from Wellington City, with many of them moving here for housing affordability, lifestyle and other similar opportunities. Interestingly, this net gain is a result of large flows to and from Wellington – the Kāpiti Coast gained 2,460 residents from Wellington City but lost 1,485 residents to Wellington City (hence the 975 net gain). These in and out flows will be related to certain age groups; younger people may leave the Kāpiti Coast to move to Wellington for education and employment, while older people and those looking to start a family or buy a new home in a more affordable environment will move to the Kāpiti Coast. The district also gained 513 residents from Porirua City, 453 from Hutt City and 141 residents from Upper Hutt City during the five year period. Regional connectivity between these Wellington Region TAs is evident. Kāpiti Coast also gained 480 persons from overseas in the 2008-2013 period – not all of these people would have come directly to the Kāpiti Coast but, in the five years since they first came to New Zealand, they will have moved to the Kāpiti Coast from another port of arrival, such as Wellington City. A gain of 27 residents from Christchurch is not very significant, but the volume of movement between the Kāpiti Coast and Christchurch is – a gain of 291 residents between 2008 and 2013 and a loss of 264 residents.

The Kāpiti Coast District has lost residents during the 2008-2013 period to the Horowhenua District (-453 residents), Dunedin City (-114 residents) and Palmerston North (-105 residents). A smaller net loss of 81 residents is also recorded to Tauranga City. The net loss to Auckland City is only 57 but like with Christchurch, there is significant volume of migration – 531 from Auckland to Kāpiti Coast and 588 from Kāpiti Coast to Auckland City. These net gains and net losses usually have a dominant age profile where younger people in their late teens and early twenties tend to leave the district for bigger city locations elsewhere, whereas families both young and established look to move to the district in search of affordable housing opportunities from nearby places where these opportunities are not as plentiful.

Almost 46% of all Kāpiti Coast District residents (22,461) did not move between 2008 and 2013 (meaning they remained at the same address). Of the residents who did move between 2008 and 2013 (19,995), 20% moved within the Kāpiti Coast District, 6% moved to the Kāpiti Coast from other parts of New Zealand and 5% moved to the Kāpiti Coast from another country. For more information on migration moves to and from the district, the "Migration by Location" page provides useful information and data (āpiti/migration-by-location).

The abovementioned migration information relates to long term/permanent migration moves. However, on a daily scale (i.e. journey to work), it is visible that the Kāpiti Coast is very connected with neighbouring Wellington City and Porirua City. Of the total number of people who work in the Kāpiti Coast District, 87% are also residents here whereas 13% live outside the city and commute to the Kāpiti Coast District for work (549 from the Horowhenua District, 318 from Porirua City, 282 from Wellington City and 120 from Hutt City). Of the total number of employed Kāpiti Coast residents, 54% work within the Kāpiti Coast District and 36% work outside the district (4,700 commute to Wellington City for work, which equates to 22% of Kāpiti Coast’s workforce). 1,158 residents commute to Porirua City, 807 to Hutt City, 411 to Horowhenua District and 150 to Palmerston North for work with a similar number (140 residents) travelling to Upper Hutt City.

Historical migration flows, Kāpiti Coast District, 2008-2013

Note: The migration flows depicted above are historical and do not represent future or forecast migration flows or subsequent council boundary changes. The arrows represent migration flows to the area as a whole and do not indicate an origin or destination for any specific localities within the area. Overseas flow shows overseas arrivals based on answers to the census question "where did the person usually live 5-years ago" and .id estimates of international out-migration.

Housing role and function

Over time, different parts of the Kāpiti Coast District have established different housing roles and functions. As a whole, the Kāpiti Coast District contains several housing markets, each with distinct roles and functions.

The district will continue to lose young adults aged 18-24 years who leave the district in search of education and employment opportunities elsewhere regionally (e.g. Wellington City) or further away. A narrow economic base within the district that limits local career opportunities contributes to these migration phenomena and is common for other similar places around New Zealand – especially those close to large cities. The district will also continue to gain couples without children and young families, moving here for relative regional housing affordability. There is also an increasing gain of families and mature adult residents in the future, both as a result of dwelling growth and subsequent housing opportunity but also due to the relative affordability of the Kāpiti Coast District for those who continue to commute to Wellington City for work, especially with the establishment of the new Kāpiti Expressway to Wellington City. There is also a gain in the older age segment – early retirees and retirees aged 55-74 years who move here for a lifestyle change or a downsize in housing, where they may sell up a property in a more expensive housing market and purchase Kāpiti Coast property for less. There is also already an established retiree community which is anticipated to continue growing as the area carries on being a desirable destination for people in those age groups. Due to the availability of many aged care facilities and anticipation of more in the future, there is also an increase of 80-90 year olds, more so in the short term due to the opening of the Charles Fleming Retirement Village (198 beds in 2014/2015). Adults over the age of 90 years tend to be less mobile so their net migration results in slight losses, although there will be more 90 year olds living here by 2043 (see age structure).

Within the district, there are some variations in terms of housing roles and functions. Areas such as Ōtaki experience a gain of families with parents aged 30-39 years who have children aged 0-9 years. Ōtaki also gains mature adults, empty nesters aged 50-64 years, and retirees aged 65-74 years. There is a loss of young adults aged 18-24 years here who leave the Ōtaki area in search of education and employment opportunities elsewhere. Other areas such as Paraparaumu East gain young couples and families with parents aged 25-29 years who have children aged 0-9 years, and established families with parents aged 30-39 years. There is a slight loss of adults with children aged 10-16 years, a slight gain of retirees aged 60-74 years, a slight gain of frail elderly adults aged 80-89 years, and the common loss of 18-24 year olds that is evident in many areas. Waikanae-Reikorangi is an area which will experience growth during the forecast period due to high levels of residential development that will occur primarily in the areas of Waikanae Park and Waikanae North. A gain of young and established families with children is expected in Waikanae as is a gain of early retirees and retirees aged 55-69 years. A slight gain of older adults aged 80-89 years is also expected, alongside the common loss of 18-24 year olds.

Housing supply

The Kāpiti Coast District has experienced several periods of high growth since World War II. From the 1950s, the residential development boom attracted Wellington residents and commuters. Similar patterns in different parts of the district continued. In recent years, some parts of the district have experienced increases in housing supply growth, while other parts have experienced declines. In the 2001-2006 period, several areas of Paraparaumu and Waikanae Beach – Peka Peka were growing at relatively high rates. In the 2006-2013 period, peripheral areas such as Ōtaki Forks-Kaitawa-Te Horo also increased in terms of growth (though it should be noted this was a seven year Census period).

At the start of the forecast period, development of the Charles Fleming Retirement Village private units in Waikanae-Reikorangi contributed to over 160 dwellings. During this time, there were also some residual developments in parts of Paraparaumu which began pre-2013. The development in Hudson Place from 2015 to the early 2020s contributes almost 90 dwellings to the TA. As the forecast moves to the mid-term in the 2020s, the Waikanae North Estate increases in terms of development rates and future stages of the Waikanae North Precinct contribute to the district’s housing supply from 2022/2023. Further on in the forecast, as the Ngarara Zone Residential Development commences, it becomes one of the main drivers of future housing supply. It is expected that almost 820 dwellings will be constructed here from 2025 with more remaining for development post 2043. An element of medium density housing has been identified in strategy documents and this type of development is anticipated to occur in Central Paraparaumu, Paraparaumu North, Paraparaumu East and Raumati South.

The Kāpiti Expressway is an under-construction four-lane grade separated expressway through the Kāpiti Coast. The construction of the Expressway has already resulted in a loss of over 50 dwellings by demolition and required changes to the initially planned extent and dwelling capacity of the Ngarara Zone Residential Development area – these changes have been reflected in the forecasts. The expressway will separate local and highway traffic and result in safer and shorter trips to and through the Kāpiti Coast, with local and national benefits. It is anticipated that the shorter travel times to the Wellington City employment hub will attract more people to migrate to the Kāpiti District, where they can commute to work in shorter periods of time while living in more affordable areas outside of the capital.

DISCLAIMER: While all due care has been taken to ensure that the content of this website is accurate and current, there may be errors or omissions in it and no legal responsibility is accepted for the information and opinions in this website.

Please view our Privacy Policy, Terms of use and Legal notices.

ABS Data and the copyright in the ABS Data remains the property of the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The copyright in the way .id has modified, transformed or reconfigured the ABS Data as published on this website remains the property of .id. ABS Data can be accessed from the Australian Bureau of Statistics at ABS data can be used under license - terms published on ABS website. if you have any queries or wish to distribute any ABS data.