Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand is a craggy peninsula located a half hour from the city of Napier in New Zealand, at the very southern-most tip of Hawkes Bay. It is named after an incident in 1769 when Maori traders kidnapped Captain Cook’s Tahitian cabin boy because they thought he was being held against his will. While Cook’s men were firing on the Maori canoe, the cabin boy escaped and returned to the ship.
Awe-inspiring Cape Kidnappers is the largest mainland colony of gannets on earth. These large seabirds find their home on the craggy rocks and sheer cliffs close to the sea. There are approximately 20,000 gannets that live at the Cape, with distinctive black eye and pale gold crown markings.
Visiting this majestic beach gives you a chance to get close to these impressive birds in their natural habitat, as well as witness how nature has shaped the towering cliffs of the coastline.
There are tours that will take you to this colony, but if you want to get there on your own steam it is possible to rent a bike in Napier and cycle the Hawkes Bay Bike Trails to Cape Kidnappers and the wineries. When I did it, the journey to Cape Kidnappers was just as wonderful as the destination itself. Here are some tips to keep in mind while planning your trip.
When to Go to Cape Kidnappers
The best time to visit is between September and early May. After this, the birds will leave New Zealand and migrate to Australia. The chicks will usually be hatching in December and January.
Napier and the Hawke’s Bay region has over 180km of cycle trails and the region is mostly flat. There are many options for getting there, but the best might be the Landscapes Ride. It is a 43 km trail that takes you through the pretty coastal towns of Te Awanga, Clifton and Haumoana. The ride is flat and is safe all year round, suitable to most cycling skill levels. It will treat you to amazing ocean views, world class wineries and lovely countryside.
To get the Cape Kidnappers you can check the tides and extend the Landscapes Ride along the beach to get to Cape Kidnappers. Or, you can lock up your bikes when the beach begins and walk the rest of the way down.
Beware of the Tides at Cape Kidnappers!
When you are biking and walking around Cape Kidnappers, it is important to know when the tide will come in, or you could find yourself stranded very quickly! There will be a safe “tide dependent return time” that will be posted by the DOC ranger every day. Check with the Napier information centre before you leave so that you can plan your trip.