Whataroa - Home of the White Heron/Kotuku

White heron, Whataroa, West Coast, New Zealand
White Heron, Whataroa
West Coast, New Zealand

Whataroa and Okarito are small settlements located on the wild West Coast, New Zealand. Both towns are just a short drive from beautiful Franz Josef Glacier.


Whataroa rests on the western banks of the Whataroa River, on State Highway 6. Whataroa lies opposite the village of Te Taho, on the river's eastern banks.

Waitangiroto Nature Reserve

The Waitangiroto Nature Reserve near Whataroa, provides a sanctuary and feeding grounds for New Zealand's only white heron breeding colony.

The white heron (also known as Kotuku) breeds between the months of September and January. Breeding pairs stay in the colony and raise their chicks on precarious nesting platforms.

While they breed, the white heron feed in the large coastal lagoons surrounding the reserve, especially Okarito Lagoon. After breeding, the birds disperse widely and may be seen at coastal freshwater wetlands or estuaries throughout New Zealand.

Visitors can go on an excursion into the nesting area accompanied by a permitted guide. Guided jet boat tours take visitors to view the birds from an observation hideout point.


Near to Whataroa, coastal Okarito has the largest unmodified tidal inlet in New Zealand. The town rests on the northern borders of the South Westland World Heritage Area.

Okarito is a major feeding area for birds, with more than 70 species being recorded.

» West Coast Regional Information

» Okarito and Whataroa Travel Directory

» West Coast Travel Directory


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