Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island, approximately 75 kms long and 45 kms wide and separated from the South Island by the Foveaux Strait. The Island is relatively low lying and undulating with the highest point, Mt Anglem/Hananui just 981 metres high. The island is largely uninhabited and unmodified which led to 85% of the island being declared a national park in 2002, named Rakiura National Park.
The name "Rakiura" is the Maori name for the island which means "Glowing Sky", apt as Stewart Island enjoys spectacular sunrises, sunsets and aurora. The island is mainly covered in native bush, with wetlands, sand dunes and a varied coastline from sandy beaches to sheer cliffs. The coastline is fringed with vegetation and bordered by crystal clear waters hosting an abundance of marine life, fantastic for fishing and wildlife watching.
Stewart Island is New Zealand's southernmost populated area, but has less than 400 residents who mostly live around Halfmoon Bay. With just 28km of roads and 280km of walking tracks, the island is all about appreciating the natural wilderness. Nearby Ulva Island is an idyllic, predator-free bird sanctuary for rare and endangered bird and plant species, a paradise for birds and bird lovers. The highlight for any visit to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park is the isolation and the untouched, unspoilt wildlife and native bush.
A leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a guided walk in the renowned bird sanctuary of Ulva Island. The cruise showcases some stunning scenery including the hidden coves and unspoilt beaches of Paterson Inlet. The local guides are passionate about this area and provide informative commentary during the scenic cruise. While on board look out for fur seals and penguins – there are a lot of them around. At Ulva Island there’s a 45 minute, easy guided walk. The island is a renowned wildlife sanctuary where many rare and endangered native species of birdlife and plants flourish in a predator free environment. Home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads among other species. The tracks are well-formed and suitable for most ages and fitness levels and small group sizes make it highly personalised.
Includes Picnic Lunch.
This is your chance to view the iconic Kiwi in its natural habitat. These rare birds are a symbol of New Zealand and Stewart Island is the best place to view them in the wild. Depart Oban on the Foveaux Express from Halfmoon Bay at dusk and cruise across Paterson Inlet to Little Glory Cove. Cruise past historic settlement sites on The Neck and learn about Stewart Island’s rich history and nature along the way.
Once there, take a short guided bush walk by torchlight through spectacular coastal forest to a secluded sandy beach where Kiwi are often found searching for food after nightfall. Here, in the darkness, you’ll get up close to the Southern Brown Kiwi in its unspoilt natural habitat. The native name for these amazing creatures is Rakiura Tokoeka (pronounced Rucky-oo-ruh Taw-kaw-eck-uh). They are the Stewart Island variety of Brown Kiwi and are found nowhere else. After searching for kiwi, the group will return to the vessel along forest track and cruise back to Oban Main Wharf.
Stewart Island is perfect for a day excursion or an extended stay. Experience Foveaux Strait in comfort and style on board The Stewart island Experience express catamarans. During the one-hour crossing between Bluff and Stewart Island keep a look out for wildlife, including seals, dolphins and sea birds. Ferry schedules allow for almost a full day to explore Stewart Islands wonderful scenery and nature.
The Village and Bays tour is a must for any visitor to Stewart Island. An informative insight into island life, culture and history, the 1 1/2 hour tour takes in Lee Bay, Horseshoe Bay and Observation Rock amongst others. With photo opportunities and some great tales along the way, the tour is not to be missed.
Once you’re comfortable with the easy foot-operated steering and paddling strokes you’re off along the coastline taking in the natural beauty all around you. Rimu and Rata trees feature in the native bush reaching right to the high-tide zone – a precious insight into how much of the New Zealand coastline used to be. You’ll drop into bays and paddle around islands, all the time taking in the sights and sounds of the bountiful, unspoiled marine ecosystem. Fancy a hot drink, baking and a stroll along a remote beach? Done!
A perfect way to spend a day. Firstly relax on the scenic flight from Invercargill to Stewart Island. Then enjoy the 15-minute walk to Golden Bay Wharf to catch your water taxi to Ulva Island bird sanctuary. Spend an hour or two on Ulva Island strolling along the excellent walking tracks amongst podocarp forest, home to many endangered species. Return to Golden Bay and walk over to Oban township, where you may purchase lunch at one of the cafes. In the afternoon, learn more about Ulva on your 1.5-hour Island Explorer bus tour; discover landmarks and the history of the island, before finally meeting your return flight to Invercargill.
An evening kayaking on Paterson Inlet is unforgettable! Be some of the only people on the water and with the sea surface so calm the reflections and colours are heightened from the sun setting right across the Inlet. There’s time to explore the wide array of intertidal sealife like urchins, shellfish, starfish and sea cucumbers as you typically make your way to Ringaringa Passage. There might even be time for a quick foray to kelp-surrounded rocks off the beach before paddling up the Inlet with (hopefully!) the sun setting right in front of you.
Discover your one-of-a-kind fishing experience on the fishing vessel Tequila, while taking in the spectacular surroundings of Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island. Using traditional hand lines, you will be able to fish for your own Blue Cod to take home. Observe the workings of a local commercial fishing operation with a demonstration on how to prepare, set & retrieve cod pots and process the catch once landed. Keep your eye out for a great variety of sea and wildlife living in and around the waters of Stewart Island.
A popular style of touring is to take a preplanned self drive road trip. After a thorough consultation with you we expertly plan and create your self drive tour around New Zealand. These tours allow you the freedom to explore at leisure with the comfort and security of pre-booked activities and accommodations. Route suggestions, APP guidance plus local support mean your New Zealand vacation is in safe hands. See self drive ideas here
If you prefer to let someone else do the work then an escorted small group tour might be for you. Our sister company at New Zealanbd Coach has a range of hand picked small group itineraries are ideal if you prefer to travel in the company of like minded people. Tours are limited to a certain number of participants which means different accommodation options, exclusive activities and of course a knowledgeable guide ensures you get to see the best of New Zealand. See small group tours here.
A private guided tour offers true flexibility and the security of a knowledgeable local guiding you all the way. Well planned itineraries ensure you see exactly what you want to see but with your own driver-guide you can adapt to suit the day or your preference. 100% tailor-made to suit you a private tour is a great option when travelling as a small group. All our self drive itineraries can be replanned and priced using a private driver and guide, so if it is what you fancy just contact us to discuss.
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