People are connected to the geographical features of the place where they live. This is an important part of what is called ‘Sense of Place’ – usually a unique landscape with a network connecting different places that rely on different forms of transport. The individual characteristics of the Kapiti Coast provide quality of life and non-material benefits from ecosystems such as identity, spirituality and aesthetic value, all of which are not easy to measure in financial terms. Check out this link for an interesting abstract on the subject.
So, what is so unique about this geographical landscape? Take yourself back to a geological time that spans about 200 million years, back to the Triassic Period. Radiocarbon (14C) dating has traced 40,000-year-old lignite, peat and wood fragments. The Otiran or Late Glacial Stage dates between 20 and 40 thousand years when climate, vegetation and sea-level were in a state of flux. During the Post-Glacial or Aranuian Stage, warming caused the sea level to rise and flood the Kapiti Strait depression which later became semi-filled by long-shore drift and exposed deposits such as offshore rock formations.
What remains of the offshore mountain range? Kapiti Island is the summit of a submerged mountain range now part of Cook Strait and created by earthquakes over 200 million years ago. The island is about 10 km long and 2 km wide of wind-blasted hillsides to the west and lush temperate rain forests to the sheltered east.
The geology of the coastal areas consists of dynamic, younger stabilised Quaternary dune deposits overlying older Quaternary alluvial, colluvial and marine sediments. The dunes have influenced landform, vegetation types and their distribution, wetlands and peat swampland as well as soils. According to McFadgen (1997), the dune sands are made up of material brought to the coast by rivers and moved along the coast and inland by wind and wave action.
Further inland is Mesozoic greywacke basement (a kind of sandstone together with pieces of rock occurring in a clay mixture) which continues up into the Tararua Ranges.