Paraparaumu, on a reliable river, perfectly sheltered from the stormy west by a geological event that created Kapiti Island, and resting against the mountain range, has always been an attractive place.
For a long time it was swamp and sand dunes and small Maori communities clustered along the beaches. Then the whalers arrived, and commercial trading began, and stagecoaches from Wellington and Foxton used the beaches as roads.
When the Wellington-Manawatu railway was completed with the driving of the last spike at Otaihanga on November 6, 1886 (where Southward s Car Museum is now located) urbanisation spread inland.
Until 1974 Paraparaumu was part of the Kapiti Riding, administered by the Hutt County Council. It then had Borough status until 1989 when the Kapiti local government district was formed.
About that time urban development began to take off. Until then, Paraparaumu had been a seaside resort and a place for wealthy Wellingtonians to have their holiday homes.
It suddenly became the fastest growing town in the Wellington Region, and the second fastest growing urban area in New Zealand. Paraparaumu has become a significant dormitory town for commuters working to the south (about 32% of the working population). Local employment is also increasing.
Kapiti's population in 1981 was 26,300; it is estimated this will increase to 51,100 by 2021.
Paraparaumu is famous for its fabulous natural beach promenade, some great cafes, a small-plane airport located smack in the middle of the town, some of NZ's top retirement village complexes, an internationally known golf course, superb lawn bowling, Kapiti Cheeses and Icecream, Coastlands Shoppingtown, Southward's Car Museum, Nikau Gardens Butterfly House, and the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes with its illuminated halo.