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Okarito Lagoon

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.

Okarito Kayaks New Zealand

Kayaking

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.

If you're interested in kayaking on the Okarito Lagoon, check out the following New Zealand tours

Rimu14 day South Island adventure trip
Tui8 day South Island adventure trip
Kiwi 14 day South Island adventure trip
Winter Rimu
14 day South Island adventure trip

Trip Reviews

  •   4.70 out of 5 (from 266 reviews)

    Review of the Kiwi trip

    I chose to visit NZ with Active Adventures because I wanted to experience the South Island from tip to toe in an active fashion. The trip was exactly what I wanted. I loved hiking and kayaking, enjoyed visiting the towns and was swept away by the scenery. I learned a lot about the country's history, geology and mythology from my two guides. And I had fun.
    Barbara Delaney Review Image
    – Maryland, United States
    Kiwi, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Even better than expected, and I expected a lot

    This was a truly awe inspiring trip---from the mountains to the rain forest to Milford Sound. A friend of mine advised me not to go on this trip. He said if I did, I would never have anything better to look forward to and he may have been right.
    Realizing that an extraordinary amount of work is done by the office and support staff, I still have to say that this trip would not be what it was without the guides, Nick and Tory, going above and beyond what anyone could have expected. They have got to be among the best.
    Thank you to the entire gang at Active Adventures.
    Doug Spitzenberger Review Image
    – South Dakota, United States
    Rimu, March 2017
  •   4.68 out of 5 (from 244 reviews)

    Great trip

    My experience with Active Adventures in NZ was so fun! The guides were really nice and perfect to play games with. Steve was also really nice and funny. I had such a fantastic time and I'm glad I got to go with Active Adventures.
    Marissa Schimpf Review Image
    – California, United States
    Kea, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Best trip I have ever taken

    There are many layers to this trip
    1. The Group - It was really fun being in a group, and our group was really fun! Sometimes I hung out with people in my family, sometimes I hung out with someone else in the group. This variety and freedom was very enjoyable.
    2. The Guides - Koru and Ash were sooo great. Koru is a polished, learned and experienced leader. Ash is a fabulous cook, so much fun, and cared about each of us on the trip.
    3. The Country - Stunning! We covered so much of the South Island that we were able to see many sides of it's weather and terrain. Really great route.
    4. Activities - It was great sharing a physical activity with others, something I know brings people together. Hiking was great. At the end of a long hike was a fabulous surprise, like a glacial lake with ice burgs, or a beautiful high-mountain vista, or a glo-worm tunnel. Biking was super fun, and I wish there had been one more day of it. In hind site I personally would have selected the biking 3day excursion. The kayaking was great. Heavy chop or glassy lakes, we kayaked in it.
    5. Accommodations - These were just great. As nice as it can be being out in the countryside. I loved how we all ate together every meal.
    5. Pace - I thought the trip was very well planned. Just when we needed a break in the beginning from jet lag, and our trip activities, a two day respite was there in Queenstown where we could recharge. I recharged and my family bungy jumped! Also, activities were structured so that the not so keen could bail out at a stopping point.
    Ginny Nayden Review Image
    – Maryland, United States
    Rimu, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Wow! What a trip!

    We had an absolute blast exploring the South Island with two legendary guides, Ken and Elder. Amazing hiking and other activities, great food, and awesome company!
    Jordan Altaras Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Rimu, April 2017

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

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.

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