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Franz Josef Tours – Return of the White Heron

Franz Josef Tours – Return of the White Heron

by | Sep 26, 2019

Spring has arrived here out on the West Coast along with the return of the White Heron. Lake Mapourika is one of a very few locations throughout New Zealand to view these beautiful and rare birds.       The Lake provides a perfect feeding ground for returning White Herons. They are specially adapted for wading in shallow waters in search for small fish, frogs and aquatic insects. White Herons, also known as Kotuku, are honoured by the Maori for the beauty and rarity. However, only Chiefs and important men were allowed to wear the herons feathers in their hair or cloaks.       The Waitangiroto White Heron Colony is located just beyond the northern end of Okarito Lagoon. This is the only place in New Zealand that White Herons can be found nesting from October through to April. They nest high up in in Kahikatea trees some 50 meters above the ground and lay 3-5 eggs.


For instance, in 1941 only 4 nest were found. Their demise was mainly due to predation of chicks by Stoats. High demand for their prized feathers also meant that vandals would take birds for their feathers.   Therefore this lead to the Department of Conservation establishing a reserve to protect their breeding grounds. Successful protection has allowed the population to grow to around 120 birds, producing 25-50 chicks per season.  There are now around 50 nest each year.   It is thought to be very good luck to see a wild Kotuku in Maori Culture. With more and more sightings as the weeks go by we’re sure feeling like luck is on our side! BOOK NOW to come and check out these majestic birds for yourself!