Located in the West Coast region
Be sure to visit Donovan’s Store and the Ōkārito wharf to learn more about this town that almost reverted into the wilderness – take the time to explore and imagine what it was like in days gone by.
Visit Donovan’s Store - built in the gold rush of the 1860s, it's one of the oldest buildings on the West Coast.
Drive 15 km north from Franz Josef Township on State Highway 6 to an Ōkārito Forks turnoff signposted on the left. Drive 13 km along a sealed road to Ōkārito.
If you'd like to visit Donovan’s Store, it is on ‘The Strand’, the main street in Ōkārito, approximately 130km south of Hokitika.
Many lives have been lost to quick sand and swift flowing water along west coast beaches. It is extremely dangerous to attempt to cross river mouths or lagoons running out to sea.
As well as comfortable footwear you are advised to carry wet weather gear on all West Coast walks. You will need insect repellent for the ever-present sandflies in this area.
There are no shops or service stations at Ōkārito so make sure you have enough food and fuel for your visit. Coffee is available at one of the local businesses.
Stunning and diverse scenery dominates the small coastal settlement of Ōkārito - windswept coastline, tidal estuary, lagoon, sea cliffs, lush rainforest and unsurpassed views of the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.
Thousands of native birds (more than 76 different species) visit the Ōkārito Lagoon and many make their home in the vicinity, including the famous kōtuku/white heron and royal spoonbills.
The kōtuku is sacred to Māori and its only New Zealand breeding colony is north of the Ōkārito lagoon on the bank of the Waitangiroto River.
The breeding site is a nature reserve, open from late October to the end of February and requires an entry permit. White Heron Sanctuary Tours, based at Whataroa, operate trips into the colony.
A small population of the rare rowi kiwi exists in a 98 square km area where DOC is involved in a kiwi recovery programme.
The white heron has always been rare in New Zealand and it has gained almost mythical status.
By visiting DOC-managed gold mining history sites you can learn about New Zealand's gold mining history that began with the Coromandel rush of 1852.
Golden treasures await in the forests and wetlands and along the windswept beaches surrounding Ōkārito.