The advantage of using a small tour company like White Heron Tours is that you’ll probably gain closer access to the subject – in this case, the nesting colony of the beautiful White Heron at Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve. This is a 2-3 tour and commences from Whataroa, which is on the way to Franz Josef Glacier. The tour is divided into 3 parts: firstly a short minibus ride to the river to connect with the jet boat…
…and then if you’re really lucky, a majestic White Heron will escort you into the Sanctuary.
The 20 min boat ride takes you to a jetty. From there, it’s a short boardwalk through native bush to the viewing platform. Here you can stay 30-40 mins to view the birds. Dion, our guide, has been doing this tour for years and the protection of the White Herons (Kotuku) and their environment, is his passion. You’ll find youselves falling into a respectful silence as you sit, mesmorised by the angel-like wings of the adult Herons swooping down to their nests.
They fuss about feeding their chicks, oblivious to our presence, although I suspect they’re probably used to visitors by now.
It’s here that you’ll also see the stunning and unusual Spoonbills (yes, their black beaks are really shaped like a spoon). The pristine rainforest environment refreshens the spirit and I can pretty much guarantee the memory of this tour will stay with you forever. It did for me.