White Heron Sanctuary Tours Whataroa

white heron display at Okarito Lagoon breeding ground

Nestled deep in the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve near the village of Whataroa is a bird watcher’s paradise and home of a breeding White Heron colony.

white herons nesting

Whataroa is a small rural town in South Westland and the start point for the White Heron Sanctuary Tours.  The Waitangiroto Nature Reserve  is the only nesting site of White Herons in NZ and Stephen recently had the opportunity to head down for a photography shoot.

Boat trip White Heron Sanctuary tour

You can only access the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve by boat, and with the reserve being administered by the Department of Conservation to protect the birds, entry is by permit only.  Most people go into the Reserve with the White Heron Sanctuary Tours based out of Whataroa.

Boardwalk White Heron Sanctuary Tour

The trip starts with a 14km drive to reach the river and during this drive there is an audio playing giving you all the information you need regarding the day ahead. After a short quick jet-boat trip up the river into the reserve there is then a 500 metre long boardwalk through dense Kahikatea rainforest to reach the purpose-built hides for viewing the Herons in their natural environment.

family of white herons nesting

There are also often Royal spoonbills and Shags nesting  but for this trip they had already moved on and it was all about the White Herons (Kotuku in Maori).

white heron family at Okarito lagoon

Once at the hide your guide will answer any questions you may still have but it is more about just watching and enjoying the bird show.

white heron posing on tree branch

white heron ready for take off

white heron taking off from tree branch

and what a show they put on.

white heron nesting whataroa

This is a fantastic experience – a photographer’s dream.  It is wonderful watching these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.  Highly recommend to anyone coming to the West Coast to check out the White Heron Sanctuary Tours.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the many wonders that make up the Coast – West Coast of the Southern Alps.


About coastingnz

Jan and Stephen live on the Punakaiki coastline, north of Greymouth on the West Coast, NZ and run Breakers Boutique Accommodation. They both enjoy the outdoors and are passionate about things to see and do on the West Coast and would like to share their experiences with you.
This entry was posted in Nature, NZ flora and fauna, outdoors, photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to White Heron Sanctuary Tours Whataroa

  1. joshi daniel says:

    i loved that shot where it is about to take off 🙂 it is perfect 🙂

  2. Jane says:

    It is a photographer’s dream, as you say. What elegant, graceful looking birds. Beautiful captures here. I would have loved to have done this tour.

  3. bulldog says:

    Now I’m green with jealously… tell Stephen to stop taking bird photos, he is too good a photographer, gonna make me look bad… only joking, these are the most brilliant photos…
    If I lived there I’d be thinking two or three books, too much material for just one…

  4. Michael Nees says:

    The White Heron trip is well worth doing! The site is amazing, the ride into the reserve is fun and the birds are so beautiful!

  5. Beautiful shots,especially the capture of the white heron about to take off and moving into flight. Great job, Stephen. –Curt

  6. I must say I’m a little bit jealous. What a fantastic photo experience of such gorgeous birds. I’m going to have to keep that reserve in mind WHEN I finally get to New Zealand.

    • coastingnz says:

      Stephen has lived here all his life and first time he has done the trip. Sometimes we just need a little push in the right direction. He loved it and I can’t wait to get an opportunity to go myself once our busy season has finished here. Definitely one for you to add to your “must do” list when you finally make it to NZ 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s