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Okarito is a small township located on a sandspit on the West Coast of the South Island, south of Greymouth and just 27 kilometres north of Franz Josef Glacier. Once a booming gold mining area, it is now home to approximately 30 permanent residents
Off the beaten track
Okarito Lagoon remains New Zealand’s largest unmodified natural wetland, home to many species of native birds including the kotuku or great white heron, godwits, and numerous wading birds. In the stunning waterways you can see the reflections of ferns and rainforest in the still waters, which can be explored by boat or kayak. Guided walks offer a unique look into the nature of Okarito.
Short Sightseeing Tours, Early Bird Tours and Nature Tours offer an introduction to the wading birds of the Okarito wetland area, an insight into the geology and nature of the local environment and excellent opportunities for photographers and bird enthusiasts alike. The open-air boat moves slowly giving 360 degree views of the fabulous wildlife and landscapes.
The drive here along the coast passes through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and has even been quoted as being one of the top 10 ten drives in the world. The winding road follows the path of the Okarito River towards Okarito Lagoon and the coast.