NPSNZ Whataroa Trip 12- 15 November 2015

Leader: Nic Webb
Trip report: Barry Dench

Fourteen of us enjoyed a variety of photo opportunities that South Westland offers especially the chance to visit the White heron nesting site, shots at Arthurs Pass and points in between, good company, laughs, good food, drinks as well as the coasters welcoming nature. Accommodation for the 3 nights was at the Whataroa Motels comprising cabins and a short distance away the converted ex hospital building.

Most of us arrived on Thursday afternoon on a fine day and Friday was also fine for the 1st of our contingent to the White heron nesting site within the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve and in the afternoon we ventured south to Okarito to explore the beach for bird life and shots of the lagoon and on the way back to Whataroa a photo stop at Lake Wahapo. A 2nd visit was made to the nesting site, for some of our group, on Saturday morning in more overcast conditions making for easier photography conditions while some of us went south to Gillespies Beach (remains of gold dredge, windswept beach and miners cemetery), coffee at the Lake Matheson café, fascinating stop at Andris Apse gallery at Franz Joseph and a photo stop at Lake Mapourika.

Light rain set in on Saturday afternoon and continued into Sunday.  It was wetting enough to inhibit photography without getting kitted up for the elements but that’s part and parcel for the Coast. Not a problem in this part of the world, with Plan B – have a relaxing day, cutting in.
The nesting White herons were the focus of our Coast visit and the photo opportunities did not disappoint. The operators hold the concession to conduct visits to NZ’s only White Heron (Kotuku) nesting site.  There is more to this tour than a chance to visit the site, rather the operators provide the road transport to the launching site for the jet boat on the Waitangitaora River and the thrill of boating down this and at a slower pace the Waitangiroto River, provide access to and use of the two storey hide located opposite the nesting site and passing on local knowledge about the bird life and flora.

Royal spoonbills (Kotuku-ngutupapa) and shags share the nesting area although the Spoonbills nests are more spread out including one above the hide,  added interest to the bird watching .

As this was the nesting season for Paradise shelducks, a pair accompanied the boat more or less at our eye level for part of trips on the Waitangitaora.

Friday night’s pot luck dinner and Saturday night at the Whataroa Hotel capped off an extended weekend of photo opportunities, interesting conversation, good food & drinks and relaxation.

For future trips, depending on numbers of course, booking out the whole of the converted ex hospital units may be an option rather than splitting between these units and the cabins up the road.

An enjoyable and successful weekend away. Thanks to Nic for organising and leading the trip.

More images on flickr