One thing that New Zealand does have in abundance is fantastic nature tours. No matter which part of the country you visit, there will be unique offerings within easy reach. That is the beauty of New Zealand; it’s a small country which has a lot packed into it! There are none of the big travel distances that characterise other countries with such epic offerings. You can easily make these special excursions into a convenient side-trip. In this post, we are recapping our visit to the white heron sanctuary at the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve – a must-do excursion for nature lovers!
The Majestic West Coast
Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve
The reserve is home to a truly unique tour – a chance to see white herons in their natural breeding colony! White Heron Tours is a family-owned small tour company with direct access to these beautiful winged birds. In fact, you can only get to see the White Herons by taking a guided tour. The Arnold family have worked tirelessly for almost 30 years for the welfare of these birds, living and working right on site. They operate their tours with a special concession from the Department of Conservation (DoC). They closely monitor the area for any adverse impact to the birds. Due to their environmentally responsible operation, White Heron Tours have been granted a 30-year permit. This is a great expression of their hard work and genuine love for wildlife.
The White Herons
The white heron, also known in Maori as the Kotuku, is a very scared bird to New Zealand’s indigenous people. The Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve is home to New Zealand’s only breeding site and the only place where you can see these birds up close. In the 1930s, the colony was almost eradicated due to the popularity of the feathers for ladies hats. After becoming a protected area in 1949, the heron’s population slowly recovered.
White Heron Tours
This is such a good value experience because visitors also get to view the stunning and unusual-looking Spoonbills (yes, their black beaks really are shaped like a spoon!)
The pristine rainforest environment is an amazing way to refresh your spirit. I can pretty much guarantee the memory of this tour will stay with you forever – as it will for me!
White Heron tours operate from March to September each year. Outside of these months, they also offer a rainforest reserve tour. For more unique nature experiences in New Zealand, have a look at our specialist Nature and Lifestyle Itineraries.