Okarito Wetland Walk

Okarito Wetland Walk

Okarito Wetland Walk


1 Rankers Review

1 Face-to-Face

8 Okarito

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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1 km return | 20 minutes return

An elegant boardwalk curves through the wetland before a short climb to a bench overlooking the wetlands.


The start of the track is signposted from the carpark at the southern end of Okarito township.


An elegant boardwalk curves through the wetland before a short climb to a bench overlooking the wetlands.


Bogs such as this form in poorly drained hollows. They act as giant sponges, holding water in times of flood, dissipating flood waters’ energy, then releasing it slowly in times of drought. European pioneers in their wisdom saw bogs, marshes and swamps as stinking holes, the stuff of Hell and completely unsuitable for establishing productive economically viable land. One of their first actions was to set about draining as many wetland areas as possible. It is fortunate some such as this remain.

The sun orchid Thelymitra verosa, with its deep blue petals which only open when sunny, is an attractive plant, and grows on beds of sphagnum moss. Red sundews such as Drosera arcturi, D. spathulata and D. binata also add splashes of colour. These small red plants look harmless, and are, unless you happen to be a small insect that is attracted by the sweet scent and spray of red sepals, cunningly coated in a sticky gelatinous adhesive. The poor insects become trapped, and are slowly ingested by these carnivorous beauties. Other notable cushion plants include the comb sedge (Oreobolus pectinatus) and the moss-like (Centrolepis ciliate). Over 200 plants species are recorded in these bogs and provide habitat for birds, fish and invertebrates.

Wiwi is the main sedge alongside the boardwalk.

European History

In March 1866 Okarito had a population of 1250 and became a thriving supply centre for diggers. The Okarito Times kept the merchants in gossip and news, while plans were even mooted for a ‘colonial university’.

In 1867 the West Coast accounted for 12 percent of population (around 25,000 inhabitants) but around 25% of the males aged 21-40. 80% were born in the British Isles. Fights between Orangemen and Irishmen were common and opponents were not shy of using weaponry such as knives, sluicing forks and stones.

Tempers often flared, fueled by hard liquor, difficult physical conditions plus the (often unrequited) promise of golden riches. Irish women such as the legendary Fenian Jenny, who could dance the waltz balancing a mug of water on her head, served in bars or in menial domestic situations. One journalist wrote “Everybody who does not dig sells grog...and everybody who digs drinks copiously.” 33 stores, 3 theatres and 25 hotels lined Okarito’s muddy main street.

Flax and kahikatea milling were sundry industries which contributed to the local economies as subsets of the gold.


Feature Value Info


DOC West Coast

Central government organisation


South IslandWest CoastOkarito


  • Walking
  • Free

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner