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“Fantastic viewing, knowledgable and brilliant guide, quality tour”

White Heron Sanctuary Tours
Reviewed 25 October 2016

Unbelivable viewing opportunity of the heron's, spoonbills and shags. So close but subtle and harmless was the viewing hide. Clean, comfortable and informative shuttle from the office to the river side, then a scenic and enthrawling jet boat ride to the well maintained short walkway to the hide. All questions answered, suitable for all weather conditions and unique in New Zealand. Well worthwhile experience , unmissable! Thanks Dion :)

Date of experience: October 2016
Thank 01donala
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"nesting area"
in 9 reviews
"jet boat"
in 37 reviews
"beautiful birds"
in 7 reviews
"the river"
in 25 reviews
"short walk"
in 11 reviews
"new zealand"
in 20 reviews
"wet weather gear"
in 6 reviews
"franz josef"
in 7 reviews
"great trip"
in 6 reviews
"nature reserve"
in 3 reviews
in 4 reviews
"professional operation"
in 2 reviews
"nesting season"
in 5 reviews
"bucket list"
in 4 reviews
"guide dion"
in 4 reviews
"great viewing"
in 2 reviews
"bird watching"
in 2 reviews

29 - 33 of 105 reviews

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.

Date of experience: October 2016
Thank 768margaretr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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.

Date of experience: October 2016
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.

Date of experience: October 2016
Thank Murry_Cave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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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.

Date of experience: October 2016
Thank JennyC0309
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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