The 2018/19 Breeding Season for White Herons Has Begun Everyone loves whitebait, even the birds. The White Heron/Kotuku nesting season has begun, coinciding with the start of the whitebait season. Established in 1987 White Heron Sanctuary Tours is owned and operated by the Arnold family of Whataroa (4th generation locals). There are only about 200 Kotuku birds in New Zealand so they’re incredibly rare. During autumn and winter they disperse widely throughout New Zealand and are generally seen as a single solitary bird and it’s only from mid-September until early March they come home to Whataroa to the same spot every year to nest and raise their young ones. This tour is the only way to see these birds in their breeding ground making it a truly unique experience. The majestic Kotuku is the star of the show but there are an abundance of birds to be viewed on this tour as well as enjoying the remote, prehistoric Kahikatea rainforest walkway and of course the awesome jetboat ride. The tours operate every day regardless of the weather (wet weather gear is provided) and the whole experience takes about 2.5 hours.