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Situated 90 minutes or 140 kilometres south of Hokitika and 30 kilometres to the North of Franz Josef, Ōkārito is situated on the coastline and beside the Ōkārito River Mouth Lagoon which is the largest unmodified wetland on the West Coast and home to a large array of birdlife.
There have been over 70 different species recorded which include the kotuku or white heron which nests and breeds on the Waitangiroto River and feed on the fish that inhabit the lagoon.
The normal resident population is around 30 but holiday home owners and visitors see over 30,000 people staying annually in the motels, backpackers, campground, home stays or houses which are rented out.
The lagoon is ideal for kayaking and there are two companies in the town providing kayaks for hire as well as guided tours to allow people to view the birdlife and beautiful scenery on offer where the native bush grows right down to the waters edge. Ōkārito is also home to over 200 brown kiwi and tours are available at night so that visitors can view this amazing bird in its natural habitat.
The coastal walkway is very popular as well as the various bushwalks located close to the village and the fishing, whether saltwater or fresh, is usually productive and exciting.