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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

  •   4.68 out of 5 (from 244 reviews)

    Loved NZ Kea Adventure

    New Zealand is a beautiful country, but the experience would not have been half as memorable if it were not for our AA guides. They were professional, could answer any question about NZ, incredibly competent in all ways and so much fun! But it would be unfair not to mention the preliminary support team leading up to the trip. All requests and needs were handled quickly and efficiently. And last, but not least, the itinerary was so well thought out. I enjoyed every minute of the trip and was sorry to see it end.
    Lori Schimpf Review Image
    – California, United States
    Kea, January 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Amazing Honeymoon Experience

    We decided to travel around NZ with Active Adventures for our honeymoon. What an incredible decision! All the logistics were taken care of for us, so we didn't have to worry about any of it while we were focusing on planning the wedding. The staff were terrific....excellent tour guides and went above and beyond for us. New Zealand itself is such a gorgeous place and was a great place to kick off married life. Active Adventures really does it right and the group sizes (max 14) are perfect. We had an amazing experience and plan to travel with Active Adventures again on our next adventure!
    Crista Cohen Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Tui, January 2017
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    An Outstanding Time!

    The north island deserves more notice than it gets in the press. A different world than the south island, well worth any time you can give it.
    Lissa Jackson Review Image
    – Tennessee, United States
    Kauri, April 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Tui

    We had a truly great time. Our guides, Koru and Liana were the best. They made the trip so much fun, especially in the light of the unpredictable New Zealand weather! And Lynette was always right there to help us along every step of the way. I brought home memories of a lifetime, and discovered that Kiwis are absolutely the friendliest people on earth. The Tui Trip was a great introductory tour, but now I want to come back again and spend more time hiking and exploring the South Island.

    Many thanks to the whole Active Adventures team. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    - Mick
    Mick Owens Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    Tui, December 2016
  •   4.64 out of 5 (from 565 reviews)

    I wasn't ready for the trip to end!

    I don't even know where to begin...so let's start at the beginning. I spent the last year dreaming about going to New Zealand, trying to talk just one friend into going with me, and finally, with some encouragement from family, booking this trip as a first time solo traveler. And let me be clear- that was the best decision I could have made! I enjoyed every single minute of my trip and wouldn't change the experience of traveling solo for anything. From the moment I met Gary and Mel, I knew that I had made the right decision. They were welcoming, to all, from the moment they met us. Right away I knew I had nothing to worry about, and worry I did prior to the start of the trip. I could not have asked for a better group of travel mates; it was as if you had hand-picked who should be on the trip together. They were amazing! The experiences on the trip would not have been nearly as amazing if it wasn't for these awesome people with whom I had the good fortune to travel.
    Gary and Mel were kind, patient, and so easy to be around. They answered every question a novice like myself asked, without ever making me feel like an idiot. Gary was witty, kept us going, and a super safe driver! ( I am not a big fan of mountain roads with cliffs on the edge that lead to instant death and not once did I fear for my life.) Mel's cooking...holy smokes was it good; so much so that the pounds I was so sure I would lose on the trip didn't happen. She has even inspired me to try to cook a couple of her dishes this winter. She made it look so easy, even with the varied diets of the group. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had chatting with both Gary and Mel wherever we were: on the bus, hiking, eating or playing cards. They brought us all together.
    Now, for the adventures! Every day was different from the day prior. I saw and experienced so many new things that I can't stop talking about it. I loved the really challenging hikes (Sealy Tarns and Alex Knob) and the slower paced treks through the rain forest and valleys. The night sky at Mt. Aspiring Hut is indescribable! While we were unable to go on the second overnight hike due to weather, Gary and Mel didn't miss a beat. We were so busy and had so much fun, even in the rain, that you would never have known that we were doing almost 3 days of alternate activities. Major kudos to them for this! I could keep going on how much I enjoyed every aspect of my trip. This was the first vacation I have been on where I didn't want it to end and it truly was the trip of a lifetime. I can't wait to book my next trip with Active Adventures!
    Melissa Munno Review Image
    – California, United States
    Winter Rimu, August 2016

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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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