On the way to Franz Joseph Glacier I took a short side trip to Okarito Lagoon – a small village on the western coast of the South Island 10 miles off main Highway 6 and about 25 minutes from Franz Josef. Okarito Lagoon is a nature reserve and a popular kayaking spot. Its heyday was during the gold mining days in the 1860s.
There are no shops or banks but there is a coffee house with excellent espresso. The lagoon is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand and the rare and endangered Rowi Kiwi. There are only about 140 Rowi Kiwis alive today.
Would like to return to Okarito and spend a day kayaking on the peaceful lagoon.