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South Westland
New Zealand

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White Heron Sanctuary Tours

White Heron Sanctuary Tours Introduction

Welcome to the truly unique experience of White Heron Sanctuary Tours' New Zealand bird tours and nature tours.

The Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve is a sanctuary to most of the bird life that you will see in the South West Heritage Area on our New Zealand nature tours. The pristine rainforest, predominantly Kahikatea, stands tall, and shows off its untouched beauty.

During the summer months, the majestic Kotuku (White Heron) can be viewed, in all its pluming glory as it nests in the swamp forests on the banks of the Waitangi Roto Stream. The Kotuku Ngutu Papa (Royal Spoonbill) and the Kawapaka (Little Black Shag) also take advantage of this prime spot to rear their young.

During the crystal clear days of the winter months, the rainforest, alive with an array of bird life, is a photographer's paradise as the snow capped peaks of mounts Cook and Tasman can easily be viewed.

In addition to this there are a huge range of other birds to be seen, or heard, on our New Zealand bird tours. Along the way you will also see some of our beautiful and unique New Zealand flora.

Our New Zealand Bird Tours and Nature Tours

Spoonbill Herons Feeding Scenic jetboating

The White Heron Tour – Runs late October to March. View the magnificent Kotuku (White Heron), the Kotuku Ngutu Papa (Royal Spoonbill), the Kawapaka (Little Black Shag) and other Bird life—all in their natural environment.

A unique experience to New Zealand's only Kotuku (White Heron) nesting site, in the Waitangi Roto Nature reserve, the Kotuku Ngutu Papa (Royal Spoonbill) also nests here.

The round trip tour from the Whataroa office, back to the office, takes approximately two and a half to three hours. Our New Zealand nature tour consists of a short minibus ride to the river to connect with the jet boat. The jet boat ride is a gentle 20 minutes each way. From the jetty it is just a short boardwalk (500 metres) through native bush to where you can stay for 30 – 40 minutes to view the birds.

Rainforest Nature Tour and Scenic Jetboating – A scenic Jetboat ride down the Waitangi Taona River, into the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve. View magnificent stands of ancient Kahikatea Forest (800 to 1,000 years old).

A relaxing cruise amongst the primeval giants of our rainforests, gently float through some of the world's most intriguing scenery, learning how we preserve the delicate balances within one of nature's oldest ecosystems. View the beautiful orchids and ferns that adorn the reserve.

This area is home to numerous native bird life including Tui, Bellbird, Wood Pigeon and Fantail. This New Zealand bird tour will also take you to the site where the White Heron (Kotuku) comes to breed in the spring.

Birds Flower Bird Wood Pigeons

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The White Heron

A White Heron

This beautiful bird breeds only in a single secret location in what is one of the most romantic parts of the country. The continued survival of white herons has been one of the major successes of the early stages of wildlife conservation in New Zealand, bearing in mind that had they been an endemic bird they would long have been on the "critically endangered" list.

To the Maori it was "He kotuku rerenga tahi", a kotuku "of a single flight", a kotuku to be seen perhaps once in a lifetime. As a symbol of things both beautiful and rare it occupied an important place in their myth and folklore, and to compare a visitor to a kotuku was a compliment of the highest order. In the more tangible world kotuku plumes were sought and treasured by people of high rank, though the longest and most valuable were tapu and forbidden to be worn by women.

Accommodation in Whataroa at White Heron Sanctuary Tours

Bedroom Kitchen

Whataroa is a small township just north of Franz Josef Glacier, about 32 kilometres, and has a population of around 400. Most amenities are on the State Highway which runs through the town.

Our Whataroa accommodation complex is right in the middle of the township and is an easy stroll to the shops and hotel. There is also a petrol station in Whataroa. Meals are available at the cafe across the road where you can also buy milk, bread, daily papers and all the other essential groceries.

Our Whataroa accommodation units are situated in a very peaceful setting and in the summer you can have your breakfast al fresco while listening to the birds singing.

Base yourselves at our Whataroa accommodation and do all the wonderful walks in the Glacier and Okarito area and remember, a White Heron Sanctuary tour is right at your doorstep.

Come home to peace and tranquility each night at our Whataroa accommodation!

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