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“Brilliant experience”

White Heron Sanctuary Tours
Reviewed 17 October 2016

The sole colony of white herons in New Zealand is reached by jetboat up the river, which is a great experience in itself. The herons, and some royal spoonbills, nest on a small strip of river bank, like little white clouds among the trees. We visited at the start of breeding season, and pairs were nesting everywhere, swooping down past the hides to collect twigs for the nest. If hoping to photograph properly, a long lens is a necessity, 300mm or longer, although some birds did briefly perch closer to the hides and show off their feathers. A fabulous experience to see these beautiful creatures in the wild, and another fun jetboat ride back to the jetty afterwards! Even if you're not particularly into birds, this is still a brilliant experience.

Thank Margaret R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"nesting area"
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"the river"
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"unique experience"
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"short walk"
in 11 reviews
"new zealand"
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"nature reserve"
in 3 reviews
"great trip"
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"wet weather gear"
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"nesting season"
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"guide dion"
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"great viewing"
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"worth the trip"
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Reviewed 16 October 2016

I had no idea that these birds only nesting place in New Zealand is just a 300 metres strip of a bank in that river. Dion was a great guide, explained everything and left no question unanswered. Due to the cancellation of the other booked parties we had a special tour for the two of us. With all their gear it did not matter that it was raining nearly the whole tour. Can only recommend this.

Thank reinhard0753
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 October 2016

I've visited the White Heron Colony thanks to the crew at White Heron Sanctuary Tours many times and I never get sick of it. The friendly crew at WHST, Dion and Adele always make for a great trip. This time I organised a couple of trips with some photography friends to go to the sanctuary when the adults have just arrived and are in their best breeding plumage. A plus this trip was seeing a family of Welcome Swallows and a Paradise Duck chasing the tour boat. We had some people in their late 70s in my group and they coped well with the walk in.

Thank Murry_Cave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 October 2016 via mobile

My husband stumbled across the White Heron Sanctuary tour on the web when we were planning our NZ South Island holiday. He said it looked great but I was ambivalent as neither of us are avid bird fanciers. I am so pleased we did this tour as it's a "must do" if you want something that's off the beaten path and very special. With only about 200 birds in NZ the White Heron, or Kotuku in Maori, is endangered in NZ. We went by mini bus for about 15 minutes to the river and then a 20 minute fantastic (but not rough and jerky) jet boat ride to the breeding ground in the Okarita Reserve. This is the only breeding place in NZ where the birds return each year between September and February. We saw about 40 birds from the hide. It was very special. Most people in NZ never see a White Heron and they have a saying "as rare as a Kotuku". We did the 9am tour on 3 October which returned to the motel just before 12noon. This is a small group tour no more than 10 and there were only 4 of us on our tour. Deon was a very knowledgeable tour guide, bus and boat driver who was very caring and attentive.

We also stayed at the White Heron Sanctuary motel which is operated by the same people. Whataroa is a very small rural town of around 300 people so there are not many options. From the outside the motel looks circa 1960s but don't be put off as it was very comfortable and one of the cleanest places I've ever stayed at. The queen bed was very comfortable with quality linen. The powerful heater warmed the place up well, the lounge was comfortable and the kitchen well equipped with full stove/oven and microwave. You can see the snow capped mountain from the kitchen window. The owner Adele was lovely and made us feel very welcome. I even got to help bottle feed her pet lambs which was an unexpected joy.

There are limited options for dinner in Whataroa. We had nice fish and chips at the pub across the road. The store also does some hot food and breakfast. We took our own breakfast provisions.

I highly recommend the White Heron Sanctuary Motel and Tour. Whataroa is an easy drive from Greymouth when you get off the Tranz Alpine train as we did andca good stop over point.

Thank JennyC0309
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 24 July 2016

We contacted Dion on a wet day in Franz Josef and although short notice he easily arranged a time to take just the 3 of us by Jet Boat up to the Heron Sanctuary. The ride up was brilliant weaving through the farm land and although quite a miserable day no need to avoid going. Spend an hour at the sanctuary which was surprisingly informative, the Herons only nesting in this small 50 metre stretch and nowhere else. Highly recommended.

Thank Colin H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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