On Friday I was lucky enough to visit the White Heron Sanctuary in nearby Whataroa. White heron are critically endangered in New Zealand and this special place is the only breeding ground in New Zealand for these birds. Access to the site is by tour only.
The tour begins with a short bus ride and a commentary about the area, local flora and fauna and the herons themselves. We then transferred to a jet boat for a ride through bush and farmland to the Sanctuary itself.
A short walk through mature forest on a well maintained path took us to the well located viewing hide. Binoculars and a telescope were available for detailed viewing - but it isn't hard to see the birds, the herons only nest in an area of about 500 meters along the river frontage and their white plumage is easily visible in the bush. Photographic opportunities are endless and telephoto lenses are recommended! The heron share their nesting site with a variety of other birds, notably the Royal Spoonbill and Small Black Shag or Cormorant. I could have watched the birds fish and feed their young for hours but all to soon it was time to stroll back to the boat.
The herons nest between November and March each year and this is the only time you will get to see the birds with their lace like breeding plumage. The sanctuary is a very special place and a visit is highly recommended - for information on the tours please visit the White Heron Sanctuary website, or call Ken and Shirley on 0800 523456 (within NZ only).
Thanks to Ken and Dion for hosting me!
In early 2012 Penny & Nairn moved from central Wellington to South Westland. Welcome to the record of their adventures.