The view from Okarito Lagoon cannot be surpassed by any other landscape on the globe" so wrote Julius von Haast in 1869, an early explorer. The lagoon remains today in its natural state. It is surrounded by magnificent rimu and kahikatea rain forest and on a clear day provides awe-inspiring views of the Southern Alps. It is New Zealand's largest unmodified wetland covering 3240 hectares of shallow open water and tidal flats.
The Lagoon is a bird-watchers paradise. Every year the White Herons or Kotuku return to Okarito to breed at their only nesting site at Waitangi-roto River. The breeding season - October to February - coincides with the migration of the "whitebait" a small fish renowned as a delicacy on the West Coast. The birds take turns to collect fish on Okarito Lagoon and return to their nests to satisfy the voracious appetite of their chick.
As well as the Kotuku more than 76 other bird species have been recorded. They include migratory waders, shags, gulls and terns on the estuarine mud flats and black swans, ducks, scaup, and crested grebes, in the upper freshwater. In the surrounding wetland vegetation are tui, bellbird, pigeon, kingfishers, fern birds, bitterns and crakes.
Kayaking is by far the best way to enjoy the wildlife and grandeur of the lagoon. This is one of New Zealand's premiere eco-experiences for wildlife and natural wetlands where you can enjoy nature on your own terms. We have kayaks and canoes to suit the special conditions on Okarito Lagoon. Previous kayaking experience is not necessary.
Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.
We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.
As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.
Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.
With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.
It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.