One of our most colourful and attractive birds is the beautiful sacred kingfisher, or kotare.

These lovely birds can be seen all over the country, most often on overhead cables or tree branches, but, they are notoriously shy and will fly away as soon as you approach them.

If you want to see them closely, then a pair of binoculars is normally required - but not in Waikanae! During late autumn, winter and early spring there are two or three kingfishers that take up residence at the Waimanu Lagoon area of Waikanae river estuary.

Late afternoon at low tide is the best time to see one or more, the best location being the set of railings around the Waimanu Lagoon outlet pipe. The kingfishers perch on the railings while searching the water race below for small bullies and shrimps - diving down as soon as they see one near the surface, and returning to the railing to eat their hapless prey.

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By keeping low down and approaching quietly, people can get very close to these amazing birds and appreciate their beautiful colours of turquoise, amber and cream. Try not to make sudden movements or noise so that the kingfishers continue to trust human watchers.