Experience the tremendous diversity of one of the West Coast’s South Westland World Heritage areas with Okarito Boat Tours, which will transport you from the historic Okarito Wharf to the lagoon and beyond into the rainforest waterways on one of New Zealand’s most extensive unmodified wetlands.
View the birds and plants that make this area so magical, including Great White Herons, Royal Spoonbills, a lagoon and spectacular rainforest.
Swade will take you on a total sensory experience on his custom-built open-air boat, which offers 360° views of the nesting birds. He will help to identify the wading birds, forest birds and the plants of the rainforest, including the graceful Kotuku – Great White Heron, Royal Spoonbill, leggy Pied Stilt, Intrepid Godwit and many, many more and backed by the towering Mount Cook, Mount Tasman and the Franz Josef Glacier. You couldn’t wish for a more spectacular environment.
As you move slowly into the shallow environs of the lagoon and the rainforest, you will have lots of photo opportunities of both the wildlife and the stunning landscape that surrounds you.
Catering to small groups prior booking is essential to avoid disappointment
Price: Adult $115 per person – Child $55 pp
Tour departs: 9:00 am & 11:30 am
Duration: 2 Hours approx.
The ‘two Hour Ecotour’ is the most interpretive tour and encompasses all that is special to this area.
You will be viewing many native and migratory wading birds in the lagoon, followed by a meander into the rainforest waterways of the Okarito River, where you can listen for the melodic calls of the Bellbirds, Tuis and New Zealand Pigeons.
Enjoy the scents and colours of the flora, the wild, red splashes of the Southern Rata, the smell of native Jasmine and the seasonal flax, which are full of nectar for the birds.
With a maximum of 12 Passengers, you can sit back and relax, take in the serenity of your environment and the Southern Alps or join in with the commentary on the geology, history, flora and fauna of the region.
Price: 1 to 5 pax $485 and 6 to12 pax $750
Tour departs: 7:30 am
Duration: Two Hours approx.
Early morning charters on the Okarito lagoon and forest waterways – what a way to start your day – quiet, calm waters, birds feeding, mountains soaring…capture that special photograph or just take in the peaceful, untouched atmosphere of this unique and inspiring landscape.
In the spring and early summer, the sun will be up but generally the calmest time of day. Mid-late summer you have sunrise and possibly mist in the river waterways – a beautiful time for photography.
With its beautiful light and calm waters, this is our favourite time of day, showcasing a lot of bird activity as they feed on the lagoon, and on clear, quiet mornings, there are fabulous views of the Southern Alps.
Price: Adult $230 per person – Child $100 pp
Tour departs: 9:00 am
Duration: 6 Hours approx.
From the historic Okarito Wharf, your two-hour EcoTour aboard the Explorer Douglas begins with Paula & Swade of Okarito Boat Tours.
You’ll learn about the incredible variety of bird life on this unique waterway system, from the legendary kotuku – great white herons to the migratory godwits and much more.
In the rainforest waterways, you may see seasonal perching orchids, rata flowering, clematis and forest birds – and sometimes kotuku feeding along the channels.
Back at the Wharf, your guide with Glacier Valley EcoTours will meet you with a packed lunch and show you our restoration area. Over the years, we have slowly and steadily removed invasive weeds and replanted them with the eco-sourced native trees from our Community Plants Nursery we manage together.
We then experience the enchantment of the Okarito rainforest to see the plants- from the tiny carnivorous sundews to the towering kahikatea and the birds.