Okarito is approx 1hr 10mins drive south of Hokitika

At Okarito lagoon, on the west coast of the South Island, there's a huge area of shallow open water and tidal flats just waiting to be explored. It's the perfect location for sheltered water kayaking, and there is plenty to see as you paddle along.

The lagoon is surrounded by lush native rainforest, above which rise the towering snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps. The area is an important feeding ground for thousands of wading birds that seem relatively unruffled by the wide-eyed people drifting quietly by in kayaks.

The kotuku (white heron) is very rare here, as New Zealand is at the edge of the bird's climatic and geographic range. Each year adult kotuku come from all over New Zealand to the country's only breeding area on the Waitangiroto River. The Okarito lagoon is their main feeding ground and the permanent home for some of the population.

Okarito - Day Trip From Hokitika

The kotuku is sacred to Maori people. Kotuku feathers were highly prized and used to adorn chiefs in life and death. In Maori oratory, one of the highest compliments that can be made is to liken someone to the kotuku. Maori people believe the kotuku is an inhabitant of the spirit land of Reinga and an old Maori funeral chant ends with these words 'Ko to kotuku to tapui, e Tama - e', which means 'Kotuku is now thy sole companion, oh my son'.

Okarito Kayaks

Kayak tours and freedom kayak rental on Okarito Lagoon, South Westland. Just 20 minutes drive from Franz Josef Glacier, the lagoon is a birdwatcher's paradise. Paddle into the rainforest. Amazing view of the Southern Alps.

Adult$55.00 - $115.00Child$27.50 - $57.50

Okarito - Day Trip From Hokitika

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Explore the stunning waterways of Okarito Lagoon


Kayaking on Okarito Lagoon, New Zealand's largest unmodified wetland and home to large numbers of native and endemic bird species (over 70 species of bird have been recorded here). Kayaks are a great way to explore the lagoon and view the abundant birdlife.

Okarito township is just a 20 minutes drive from Franz Josef Glacier.

We provide guided kayak trips and freedom rental kayaking with a focus on the ecology of the lagoon and the outstanding scenery. After exploring the tidal mudflats of the lagoon, kayakers can paddle deep into the rainforest river channels of the Okarito river delta. Towered over by 400 year old Kahikatea trees, kayakers can then view a large number of forest dwelling birds. A true wilderness experience.

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Get directions

Physical address

Okarito Kayaks, 1 The Strand, Okarito, West Coast, New Zealand.

Opening times

Business hours:8am - 5:30pm Months of operation:All months of the year

Okarito - Day Trip From Hokitika
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