White Heron Sanctuary Tours Whataroa

White Heron Sanctuary Tours Whataroa

White Heron Sanctuary Tours Whataroa
5
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
Join us for a truly unique nature experience! Observe the majestic Kōtuku, White Heron at their only New Zealand breeding ground within the enchanting, flora and fauna abundant, Waitangiroto Nature Reserve. Learn about the stunning Kōtuku, a rare and special bird in New Zealand and about its nesting habits. Be delighted and captivated by the beauty and interactions of the White Heron colony in their natural nesting environment. View nesting Royal Spoonbill and Little Shag too. Explore the Kahikatea Rainforest with trees over 1000 years old, lush native ferns, orchids, flowers, fungi and numerous other birdlife. See our predator control and bird monitoring work. White Heron Sanctuary Tours (Est 1987) is the original and only tour to operate within the Department of Conservation protected Waitangiroto Nature Reserve and has been guiding visitors here for 37 years. Small group tours with friendly experienced guides. AWESOME photography opportunities! Daily tour times 9am, 12noon and 3pm.
Whataroa, New Zealand
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(23 reviews)

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

5.0
5.0 of 5 bubbles168 reviews
Excellent
145
Very good
15
Average
5
Poor
2
Terrible
1

Ruth D
Hoi An, Vietnam71 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021 • Couples
What an extraordinary and wonderful experience. My husband and I went on this tour today and are very glad we did. We weren't sure if we would feel that we had "value for money" but after 2 and a half hours on a fascinating tour, we would highly recommend it. Seeing white herons nesting with very young chicks was the first treat. Seeing a few pairs demonstrating a courting ritual was the second highlight. Witnessing the extraordinary sight of little shags/ cormorants and spoonbills all nesting in the same site from a very close hide was the best part for me. Dion's great knowledge and his family's deep commitment to preserving this extraordinary treasure made this one of the best trips we have done in New Zealand.
Written November 20, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

John B
Wanaka, New Zealand63 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021 • Couples
We’d tried to go on this tour last season, but just missed the season by a few weeks, so we’d been waiting patiently for the opportunity to do so ever since We needn’t have worried and so, on a cool, blustery, wet and windy November day, we arrived at Whataroa with good friends from Fox Glacier and met up with Dion at White Heron Sanctuary tours base.

Immediately, Dion comes across as someone who knows all there is to know about the Kōtuku, he is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and full of excitement as we head off on the 30 or so minute drive to the sanctuary

During the drive to the sanctuary, we listen intently to a CD with all sorts of information about the history of the area and of course the Kōtuku. It’s a novel way to deliver this information and holds our attention as we make our along the valley floor and eventually park up and head off on foot to the hide.

The 15 or so minute walk on a flat, well maintained track and boardwalk, is a tour in itself and with Dion by our side, he pretty much knows every species of tree, plant and flower. His knowledge is amazing and soon we arrive at the hide, a stones throw across the river and directly opposite the Kōtuku sanctuary You can see the birds with the naked eye, but don’t worry if you can’t quite do so, or forgot your binoculars, as Dion and his team have provided them for you in the hide

Seeing the Kōtuku for the first time literally took my breath away. Despite the rain, we watched for well over an hour as Kōtuku shielded their chicks, occasionally standing up proud, and watched as shags flew in and out and literally nested alongside the Kōtuku and as Spoonbills watched on from branches high above.

It was a brilliant experience and totally exceeded our already high expectations. I can thoroughly recommend this tour.
Written November 21, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

John Miller
Christchurch, New Zealand78 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2021
Another gem. Did this tour last Friday and oh what a privilege it was. We started with a tour through farmland with a very informative commentary filled by a chat from our guide. Then it was a 15 minute walk through native rain forest to the bird hide.
To see these birds in their breeding plumage was just magical. Being as this is the only nesting site in New Zealand it makes this more special. I think the fee of $150.00 was well worth it and as such I will happily be returning for a repeat visit
Written October 26, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ed C
Auckland Central, New Zealand39 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2021 • Family
Our family visited the white heron sanactuary last week. The bird viewing lived up to the billing.... small group, great viewing spot, plenty of opportunity to take photos and hear about this unusually rare nesting spot in NZ.

However the the tour is not good value now as the owner recently replaced the formerly exciting jetboat ride to the sanctuary with a boring 25 minute minivan ride each way. Consequently I would no longer recommemd unless priced at under $100 per person

DOC should seriously look at why one family with thd 'concession! should be allowed to charge so much and exploit other New Zealanders
Written January 13, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

celesteandrick
San Antonio, TX53 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2019
Don't miss this tour if you are in the region. Dion is a fantastic guide and boat driver. He was so professional, and yet the jet boat ride was also quite exciting! The herons themselves were magical - seeing the chicks in the nest was delightful. They provide binoculars at the site, and everything was just right. Be sure to have sunscreen, appropriate weather gear, and a telephoto lens if you have one!
Written January 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jan P
Dunedin, New Zealand14 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020 • Couples
Visiting the Kotuku (White Heron Sanctuary) near Whataroa in Westland has long been on my list of “must” things to do!
Today, in spite of the rainy weather, we finally got there. What an amazing tour/ do go if you ever get the chance.
Dion, our tour guide and whose family have run the business for more than thirty years met us at Whataroa. We were offered waterproof clothing should we need it and then driven in a comfy minibus to the sanctuary. Dion gave an informative introduction to the trip and then further recorded information was played on the minibus journey.
On leaving the minibus we had a ten minute walk through amazingly lush kahikitea forest- so beautiful and untouched. A trip to the forest alone would have been a treat. Along the way we saw nesting Royal spoonbills in a tree above the path. Once we reached the hide we were not disappointed. More than thirty Kotuku were at various stages of nesting coming and going and displaying their breeding feathers. Dion was very knowledgeable and answered all our questions. He also told us about predator control in the Reserve. Great excitement when we noticed two nests had this year’s first hatchings and had tiny white fluffy chicks in the nests. We had a good length of time in the hide to observe the birds before the walk back through the forest and the minibus back to Whataroa.
Thank you Dion for a wonderfully informative afternoon trip and the opportunity to walk in the untouched forest reserve as well as realise my wish to visit the unique Kotuku Sanctuary.
Written October 25, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

omalleycat_9
Canterbury, New Zealand38 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2021
We did this tour in early December and very much enjoyed it. As a traveller with mobility issues, sometimes I get a bit worried by the description of a tour involving an "easy 15 minute walk" on the website. This is due to a prior stressful experience with another tour whose easy walk involved undulating rocky terrain and a threat that the main part of the tour would commence without people who were too slow. This was not the case here. Our heron tour group contained several larger or older ladies and it was definitely inclusive for all. Dion provided a step stool for entering and exiting the van, the forest walk was in fact easy and enjoyable, and everyone was encouraged to walk at their own pace and enjoy the surroundings. We had a very good amount of time at the viewing hide and Dion was available to answer all questions. The van ride through the farmland was interesting in itself. There is a nice gift shop at the tour base and a cafe across the road for after your tour.
Written January 9, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

cruizee
46 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Couples
Seeing the herons in their remote and only nesting site in the whole of NZ was a privilege and magical experience. This tour suits starts in Whataroa and suits all ages, there is an informative half hour transfer with Dion your guide who knows the area inside out and has been looking after the sanctuary for many years. A beautiful fifteen minute easy walk through virgin rainforest from a secret spot takes you to the comfortable hide adjacent to the river and nestled in the trees where the full glory of these bird and their home unfolds. There were approximately 50 herons to be seen on our visit and although it was mid-summer, there were still chicks in their nest. Dion ensured we could all see with binoculars and a telescope also set up for us, but they are very easy to watch and photograph without this added bonus. We were given plenty of time and had a beautiful walk back through the rainforest before returning to our shuttle van for the scenic ride through the wetlands back to Whataroa. For anyone who loves nature and wants to get up close to see the White Heron, this tour should be on your bucket list. If you need to stay in Whataroa for the first tour of the day (9am) as we did, contact Dion or Adele direct as they have motel units adjacent and are very comfortable and well priced. Don't hesitate to do this tour, you wont be disappointed.
Written January 6, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Patrick O'Neil
8 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
Dion is a second-generation guide in this unique Family Tour business that has been running for over 30 years to visit the only nesting site in New Zealand of the rare and special Kotuku (white Heron). He provided an informative commentary on every stage of the trip - van, jet boat, bush walk and finally the hide to view these beautiful birds which are considred sacred by the Maori and much prized for their feathers.
In all a wonderful experience that takes you into the heart of South Westland and its natural history. highly recommended.
Written January 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Melanie E
Auckland Central, New Zealand142 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2021 • Couples
Overpriced for what it was. You are driven to the forest and then it's a short walk to the bird viewing area. The bird viewing is very good - but $150pp is too expensive. The binoculars provided are good. For the money I was expecting more e.g. a talk about the forest as well. However, they're very knowledgeable about the birds and answered all our questions.
Written January 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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