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.
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!
One of the most popular coastal and native bush walks on Stewart Island. Water taxi to Port William, site of early Maori settlement, before continuing on to beautiful Maori beach. This was also where early Maori settled and later became a saw milling community in the early 1900s. We then make our way to Lee Bay via Little River, a stunning tidal river mouth, overhanging with Rata trees.
Along the coast lookout for a plethora of birdlife, such as, Mutton birds (Sooty Shearwaters), Shags, Buller’s Mollymawks, Cape Pigeons, and little Blue Pengiuns. In the native bush you may see and hear Bellbirds, Tui, Fantails, Parakeets, Shining Cuckoos, Grey Warblers, Kaka and Tomtits and more.
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.
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.
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.