Nestled in the stunning region of Westland on New Zealand’s South Island, Whataroa is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by travelers seeking an authentic Kiwi experience. Surrounded by pristine nature, including lush rainforests, rugged mountains, and icy glaciers, Whataroa offers a myriad of outdoor adventures, unique attractions, and culinary delights. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, or a food enthusiast, Whataroa has something to offer for everyone. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top things to see and do, the best restaurants to visit, and accommodation options in Whataroa, ensuring an unforgettable journey in this picturesque corner of New Zealand.

whataroa new zealand
The Whataroa River

Whataroa’s Things to See and Do

White Heron Sanctuary Tours

Start your Whataroa adventure with a visit to the White Heron Sanctuary. Embark on a guided tour along the Waitangiroto River, where you’ll witness the majesty of the Kotuku (White Heron), one of the world’s rarest birds. Marvel at these elegant creatures in their natural habitat amidst lush wetlands and learn about conservation efforts to protect them.

Kotuku (White Heron) Birds

Glacier Country Scenic Flights

Take to the skies for a breathtaking aerial adventure over the Southern Alps and the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. Glacier Country Scenic Flights offer helicopter and plane tours that provide unparalleled views of the dramatic alpine landscape, towering peaks, and icy blue glaciers. Choose from various flight options, including glacier landings for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Okarito Lagoon

Explore the tranquil waters of Okarito Lagoon, the largest unmodified wetland in New Zealand and a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Kayak or take a boat tour through this pristine wilderness, where you’ll encounter a diverse array of birdlife, including the iconic kotuku (White Heron), royal spoonbills, and more. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the spectacular sunset reflecting off the water’s surface, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink.

Okarito Lagoon
Okarito Lagoon

Whataroa Community Centre

Immerse yourself in the local culture and history at the Whataroa Community Centre. Browse through exhibits showcasing the region’s Maori heritage, early European settlers, and natural wonders. Engage with friendly locals who are passionate about sharing their stories and traditions, providing valuable insights into Whataroa’s past and present.

Hiking in Westland Tai Poutini National Park

Lace up your boots and hit the trails in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its diverse ecosystems and stunning landscapes. Choose from a range of hiking options, including short walks to scenic viewpoints, day hikes to hidden waterfalls, or multi-day treks through ancient rainforests and glacier-carved valleys. Highlights include the Copland Track, Alex Knob Track, and Tatare Tunnels Walk.

Westland Tai Poutini National Park
Westland Tai Poutini National Park

Fishing on the Whataroa River

Cast a line and try your luck at fishing on the Whataroa River, known for its abundant populations of brown trout and salmon. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a novice fisherman, the Whataroa River offers excellent opportunities for catching a prized trophy fish amidst breathtaking scenery. Hire a local guide for insider tips and access to prime fishing spots along the riverbanks.

Whataroa Restaurants to Visit

The Last Kitchen

Indulge in delicious Kiwi cuisine with a modern twist at The Last Kitchen, located in the heart of Whataroa. Using locally sourced ingredients and fresh produce, this charming restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring seasonal dishes inspired by the region’s bounty. Whether you’re craving seafood chowder, lamb rack, or vegetarian risotto, The Last Kitchen delivers flavorful meals in a cozy atmosphere.

Whataroa Hotel

Experience traditional Kiwi hospitality and hearty pub fare at the Whataroa Hotel, a beloved local institution since 1926. Situated in a historic building with rustic charm, this family-friendly establishment serves up classic pub grub, including juicy burgers, fish and chips, and savory pies. Wash it down with a cold beer or a glass of New Zealand wine while soaking in the friendly atmosphere and swapping stories with fellow travelers.

Giant Lobster Café

Treat yourself to a seafood feast at the Giant Lobster Café, known for its generous portions and fresh seafood offerings. Feast on succulent crayfish, grilled fish, and seafood platters showcasing the best of New Zealand’s coastal cuisine. With its laid-back vibe and scenic views of the surrounding mountains, this waterfront café is the perfect spot to unwind after a day of adventure.

Okarito Store Café

Enjoy a taste of homemade goodness at the Okarito Store Café, a quaint eatery nestled in the charming seaside village of Okarito. Sample delicious baked goods, gourmet sandwiches, and organic coffee made with beans roasted on-site. Whether you’re stopping by for breakfast, lunch, or afternoon tea, the Okarito Store Café offers a warm welcome and delicious fare that’s sure to satisfy your cravings.

Glacier View Restaurant & Bar

Dine with a view at the Glacier View Restaurant & Bar, located within the Glacier Country Motel. Savor delectable dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients while admiring panoramic views of the Southern Alps and Franz Josef Glacier. From hearty breakfasts to gourmet dinners, this restaurant caters to every palate, with a focus on fresh flavors and innovative cuisine.

Whataroa Accommodation

Glacier Country Motel

Experience comfort and convenience at the Glacier Country Motel, located just a short drive from Whataroa. Choose from a range of self-contained units and studios, equipped with modern amenities and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Unwind in the guest lounge, soak in the outdoor hot tub, or take advantage of complimentary services such as bike rentals and laundry facilities.

Whataroa Motel & Backpackers

Budget-conscious travelers will appreciate the affordable accommodation options at the Whataroa Motel & Backpackers. Whether you’re traveling solo, with family, or in a group, this motel offers a variety of room types to suit every need and budget. Enjoy amenities such as a communal kitchen, BBQ area, and free Wi-Fi, as well as convenient access to local attractions and outdoor activities.

Okarito Beach House

Escape to tranquility at the Okarito Beach House, a cozy retreat nestled amidst native bush and just steps away from the beach. This eco-friendly accommodation features self-contained apartments and cabins, each thoughtfully designed with comfort and sustainability in mind. Relax on your private deck, stroll along the shoreline, or explore the nearby Okarito Lagoon and its abundant birdlife.

Fern Grove Cottages

Immerse yourself in nature at Fern Grove Cottages, a secluded retreat surrounded by lush rainforest and towering trees. These charming cottages offer a peaceful sanctuary for couples, families, and solo travelers seeking a true wilderness experience. Disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life, listen to the sounds of native birdsong, and rejuvenate your spirit in this idyllic setting.

Rainforest Retreat

Treat yourself to luxury accommodation at the Rainforest Retreat, located in the nearby town of Franz Josef. Choose from a range of stylish lodges, treehouses, and eco-suites, each designed to blend seamlessly with the natural environment. Unwind in your private outdoor spa bath, dine at the on-site restaurant and bar, or book a rejuvenating massage at the day spa. With its tranquil atmosphere and first-class amenities, the Rainforest Retreat offers a truly unforgettable stay in Whataroa.

Rainforest Retreat
Rainforest Retreat

Will you visit Whataroa?

Whataroa, New Zealand, is a destination like no other, where stunning natural beauty meets warm hospitality and unforgettable experiences await at every turn. Whether you’re exploring the White Heron Sanctuary, indulging in delicious local cuisine, or unwinding in luxury accommodation surrounded by pristine wilderness, Whataroa promises a journey filled with adventure, relaxation, and lasting memories. So pack your bags, lace up your boots, and get ready to discover the magic of Whataroa, where every moment is a new adventure waiting to be explored.