White Heron Sanctuary Tours is the original and only tour to visit New Zealand’s only White Heron nesting site. For over 28 years the Arnold family have been delighting visitors by sharing this world class attraction with them.

Whataroa is the departure point for NZ’s only White Heron Sanctuary Tour.

The tour consists of a short minibus ride to connect with the jet-boat for a gentle 20 minute scenic cruise into the Waitangi-roto Nature Reserve (the only access to this area is by boat). In the reserve guests disembark from the boat for a short walk through ancient Kahikatea rainforest to the purpose built viewing hide to observe the magnificent White Heron (Kotuku) in their natural nesting environment. The Royal Spoonbill (Kotuku Ngutu Papa) and the Little Shag (Kawapaka) also share this special area and all can easily be seen from the hide. The White Heron only use this area for breeding so can be seen in the reserve over 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 single solitary bird. The population of White Heron in New Zealand is approximately 200. To see one of these splendid birds is a rare and special sight and to visit their only breeding ground is a truly unique experience!

White Heron Sanctuary Tours is the original and only tour to visit New Zealand’s only White Heron nesting site. For over 28 years the Arnold family have been delighting visitors by sharing this world class attraction with them. Tours operate with a Department of Conservation concession and entry is with a guide and by permit only.

Please note: There is no access to the White Heron nesting site from Okarito. Kayaks are not permitted into the Waitangi-roto Nature Reserve.

Tours operate wet or fine (wet weather gear is provided).

Duration:  Approx 2.5 hours return trip from Whataroa.

Cost including DOC entry permit:  $150 per adult, $75 per child (12yrs and under).

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Address: 7856 State Highway 6, Whataroa, Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand Get Directions