Explore our regions
Okarito & Whataroa
The Ōkārito and Whataroa area is a ‘must-explore’ if you are interested in birds and there is so much more to offer as well. The rugged Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana dominate the landscape inland, with the impressive expanse of the estuarine Ōkārito Lagoon along the coast.
For those who like history, there is former gold town to explore. For walkers there are wetland, coastal or trig station walks close by and challenging tramps up the Whataroa Valley.
To get your fill of birds, spend time on the lagoon or visit the white heron colony in the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve.
The farming community of Whataroa is blessed with expansive views of the mountains, glacial rivers and lakes across farmland fringed with native forest.
Drive 5 kilometres north from Franz Josef village on State Highway 6 to the Ōkārito turnoff signposted on the left. It is another 13 kilometres along a sealed road to Ōkārito.
The tours to the white heron colony go from Whataroa, 20 minutes north of Franz Josef on State Highway 6.