Best things to see and where to go
Glorious white heron plumage displays among the timeless swamp Kahikatea and White Pine rainforest is natural magic. Visitors have a unique opportunity from September to February (breeding season) to join a guided tour to the bird’s nesting sites. Other times of the year enjoy a rainforest experience in the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve. The tours are exclusively managed by White Heron Sanctuary Tours – Home. Whataroa is also home to the Petr Hlavacek Gallery where haunting landscapes invite you to take time and absorb the imagery before you.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- Outstanding guided tour of white heron nesting sites within Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, one of those bucket list moments where the only regret is leaving.
- Petr Hlavacek Gallery is a treat with its secluded rural aspect and purpose built gallery. For photographers and lovers of landscape art this is a must go destination.
- Hunting, fishing and tramping the backcountry of the West Coast, Whataroa is an ideal base.
- Whataroa River Helicopter rafting adventure exploring seldom rafted rivers is not just adrenaline, although that is a given, it is breathtaking scenery. And most of all fun.
The Whataroa River is a premier white water rafting river with deep glacial tinted waters, several spectacular gorges, with canyons set amongst amazing river scenery.
Whataroa has an interesting 9 hole golf course in the township as well as motels, backpackers, a hotel, a school and two churches.
Experienced trampers and hunters will relish the outdoors opportunities. Check Department of Conservation online resource for more information, Whataroa area: Places to go on the West Coast
- The Waitangitaona Wetland Walk is a short walk opposite the White Heron Sanctuary Tours jetty. Within 15 minutes you have entered a kahikatea forest on a raised boardwalk to the viewing platform overlooking a large pakihi swamp (rushes, ferns, moss, and manuka) with sweeping views of the Alps.
WHAT TO DO NEARBY
Lake Wahapo is surrounded by dense kahikatea forest edged with flax that surrounds the lake. Such forests were once common on the West Coast however land clearances have destroyed most of the original forests. The lake with its wetlands and silted rivers is a deep ink colour creating a mirror for the forest and Mt Adams (part of the Southern Alps) to reflect themselves.
- Gateway to the World Heritage National Park and Glacier Country
- less than 300
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE PLACE?
Whataroa, (the Long Storehouse), with its two lakes and two major river systems was a rich source of birdlife and fresh-water fish for summer food-gathering expeditions by the South Westland Maori. Fishing camps existed on both sides of the river mouths and fast-moving trading parties from the east coast may have used the Sealy Pass to cross the Main Divide.
WHAT KEEPS THE PLACE TICKING?
- Dairy industry and tourism
- Bucket list destination for birders and lovers of natural places
Distance between Whataroa & Okarito
30 km from Franz Josef township