Choose from three walks of varying lengths, from the short, easy access Ōkārito Wetland Walk, to the longer Three Mile Pack Track.
Ōkārito Wetland Walk
Time: 20 min return
Distance: 1 km
From the car park by the Ōkārito School House, the track winds though bush before crossing the estuary on a curving boardwalk.
The track then climbs gently to a viewpoint overlooking the estuary.
Ōkārito Trig Walk
Time: 1 hr 30 min return
Distance: 4.2 km
The Ōkārito Trig walk initially follows the Ōkārito Wetland Walk and Three Mile Track before branching off to the left after around ten to fifteen minutes walking. The walk winds gently uphill on a well-graded track, before reaching the Ōkārito Trig viewpoint.
On a clear day, the view is unbeatable overlooking Westland Tai PoutiniNational Park from the snow-capped Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moanaacross extensive native forest to the lagoons and beaches of the coast.
Three Mile Pack Track - Ōkārito Coastal Walk
Time: 3 hr 30 min return
Distance: 9.8 km
Note: Walking along the beach to or from the Three Mile Lagoon is only recommended within one hour each side of low tide. However the actual times can be affected by natural influences such as tide heights and storm surges. Allow 1 hour 20 minutes to walk along the beach between the Three Mile Lagoon and Okarito township. Check the tide times at the car park.
Follow the Ōkārito Wetland Walk before continuing through coastal forest to climb over the Kohuamarua Bluff. The track meanders through wind-shorn rimu, rata and silver pine forest before dropping down to Three Mile Lagoon - a sheltered estuary fringed with rimu forest.
A bridge crosses the lagoon but there is no track beyond this point. You can return to Ōkārito via the pack track or, if the tide allows, follow the coastline back along the beach.
Drive 15 km north from Franz Josef Township on State Highway 6 to the Ōkārito turnoff signposted on the left. Drive 13 km along a sealed road to Ōkārito. The walks begin at the car park next to the Ōkārito School House on The Strand in Ōkārito.
Nature and conservation
The lagoon is home to more than 76 species of native birds including the kōtuku/white heron and royal spoonbills.