Okarito Lagoon - bird watching on the West Coast

The bird life on Okarito is varied and this tells you a little about what you may expect to see on the Okarito Lagoon...and the best times to go looking.

Okarito Boat Tours is a small owner operated company that takes you out to see and experience the bird life of the lagoon and rainforest in the pristine environment of New Zealand's largest unmodified wetland area.

What makes this trip really special, is the environment in which to view these birds.  Okarito is off the beaten track - home to just 30 some residents, passionate about nature and living alongside it.  It is a delight for photographers, ranging from mysterious misty mornings with mountain peaks appearing above the rainforest and lagoon, to brilliant blue skies, the reflections of ferns rippling in the water as the white heron stalks its prey in shallow waters.

The 2 hour Nature Tours depart in the morning - the first at 9 AM and next at 11:30.  We recommend the 9 AM trip for the majority of departures as the best time to view birdlife. 

And speaking of which...what should you expect to see?  Over 70 species of birds of been recorded at Okarito - a broad variety indeed.  Many of these are sporadic visitors or rare visitors, but you can expect to see about 18-25 different species on most 2 hour tours. 

The tidal flats of the lagoon feature wading birds feeding, particularly at mid-tides, and in the mornings.  The birds you might see include eastern bar-tailed godwits, the magnificent white heron, the comical Royal Spoonbills, delicate pied stilts, banded dotterels, white-faced herons and if you are lucky the elusive bittern.  South Island pied oyster catchers usually abound as do various shags and cormorants. 

The 2 Hour Tour also takes you into the peaceful rainforest channel waterways where you may see NZ pigeon, tui's, bellbirds, the secretive fernbird, kingfishers and the smaller birds such as tomtits and fantails.

We do our best to take you out to see as much as possible - even if you have just a fleeting interest in birds, you will likely come away with an appreciation of them seeing and learning about them in this incredible environment.

Hope to see you soon....off the beaten track on one of our informative, peaceful boat tour into the magic of the Okarito Lagoon.