Welcome to Whataroa
Though it looks humdrum, Whataroa is a gateway to rare natural wonders. Strung out along the SH6, 30km north of Franz Josef Glacier, this nondescript town is the departure point for tours of NZ's only nesting site for the kōtuku (white heron). Their wings as delicately pretty as a bridal veil, these rare birds hold a special significance for Māori, who treasure their feathers and use 'kōtuku' as a compliment describing seldom-seen guests. When the birds roost between late September and February, White Heron Sanctuary Tours offers exclusive access to a viewing hide.