Okarito: Long Weekend off the Beaten Track

Okarito Trig Walkway
The view from the top of the Trig walkway (45-min walk)

A major change that I’ve seen in the last few years has been the increase in holiday homes available for rent on one of the many websites such as holidayhouses.co.nz, book-a-bach and Airbnb. This provides a great opportunity to stay in bach’s off the beaten track that you wouldn’t probably normally get to experience. One of those places is Okarito.

Okarito

For the Easter long weekend, we found one such bach in Okarito, a small coastal village around 27kms from Franz Josef that consists of around 30 permanent residents.

The village is located right next to a lagoon which is the largest unmodified wetland in New Zealand.

Okarito Lagoon View from Trig Walkway
View of the 3-mile lagoon from Trig walkway

The 12 square km lagoon feels as though it’s the heart and soul of the village and provides fishing and kayaking opportunities, in addition to a few beautiful Department of Conservation walks you can do in the area. The two images below are from the top of the Trig walk, where you can see the village and the lagoon.

Kayak hire and coffee

There’s a local company that rents out kayaks for $50 per person for 2 hours or $60 for 4 hours. This will give you an opportunity to explore the lagoon, and you can also head up the little rivers and streams that feed into the lagoon. 

Okarito Airstrip
Okarito even has it’s own airstrip!

It’s a good idea to hire the kayak when for an incoming tide (which will make for an easier paddle). You can then spend a few hours exploring and come back when the tide is slack or outgoing.

Ask in the shop and they’ll let you know the best options. They also make coffees here and are the only shop in Okarito. You would expect that the coffee would be expensive as they’re the only option but no, standard pricing that you would expect in any town!

I would recommend taking a bicycle along if you can. It gives you options for getting around. For example, just a 15 minute bike ride out of town, the Pakihi walk is nice and takes around 30 minutes. Watch out for wildlife!

Fishing at Okarito
Fishing at Okarito

Fishing at Okarito

You’ll also want to take your fishing rod. You can catch Trout, Salmon, Rig and Kahawai in the lagoon or at the river mouth.

There’s another cheaper option to stay in Okarito, and that’s the community campground. This costs $12.50 per adult per night, and children camp for free. The camp also has a bunch of facilities such as a shower, BBQ and laundry facilities.

If you’re staying here in a tent, remember that it can rain a lot on the West Coast. Be prepared!

Okarito community campground

I didn’t know about Okarito prior to Easter. It was fantastic to be able to discover a small town like this! The locals are all very friendly and there’s a bunch of outdoor activities to do.

If you are looking for an adventure off the beaten track, then Okarito should definitely be on your ‘to-do’ list.

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