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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 Arnold family invites you to join a tour to visit the White Heron Sanctuary, located near Whataroa in stunning South Westland, New Zealand.

White Heron Sanctuary Tours Ltd, (Established 1987) is a family owned and operated business. It is the original and only company to operate in the remote Waitangiroto Nature Reserve and to visit New Zealand's only Kotuku, White Heron nesting site.

Come along and observe the magestic Kotuku, White Heron in their natural nesting environment. Learn about this rare bird in New Zealand and about its nesting habits. Experience the untouched beauty of the prehistoric Kahikatea rainforest and absorb the natural flora and fauna within this special area. Awesome photo opportunities and spectacular views of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps. Small personalised tours with knowledgeable, friendly, local guides.

Our New Zealand Bird Tours and Nature Tours

Spoonbill Herons Feeding Herons courting

White Heron Sanctuary Tour

Nesting season from September to February.

Whataroa is the departure point for tours to visit NZ's only White Heron, Kotuku nesting site. The White Heron Sanctuary Tour includes an informative minibus ride from Whataroa through lush South Westland farmland into the remote Waitangiroto Nature Reserve. Entry into the Nature Reserve is permitted through the Department of Conservation (DOC) and is only possible on a guided tour.

In the reserve there is a short walk through ancient Kahikatea rainforest to our purpose built viewing hide to observe the magnificent Kotuku, White Heron, in their natural nesting environment. The White Heron use this area for breeding so can be seen in the nature reserve during the spring and summer months, usually mid-September until early March. Over the autumn and winter months they disperse widely throughout New Zealand and are generally seen as a solitary bird.

Kotuku Ngutu Papa, the Royal Spoonbill and Kawapaka, the Little Shag also nest in this special area and all can be seen easily from the hide. The preserved rainforest and its surrounds is also home to a great array of other birdlife including, Tui, Bellbird, Wood Pigeon, Fantail, Tomtit, Silver Eye and Grey Warbler.

For over 30 years the Arnold family have been delighting visitors by sharing this world class attraction with them.

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.

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