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Stewart Island & Rakiura NP

Stewart Island sunrise

Come to Stewart Island and Rakiura for that rugged, somewhat unsophisticated experience of NZ as it was 30 or 40 years ago.

85% of the island is protected as Rakiura National Park, NZ’s newest, established in 2002. Rakiura NP Visitor Centre is a must-visit in Oban, the island’s only real settlement of around 400 people.

There are marvellous walks, birds galore and a real feeling of getting away from it all on the island. Birds are in abundance as there are no stoats or ferrets here.

Getting here is fun, unless the weather is awful, in which case it can become a barfing, fearful experience on what feels like the high seas. Whether you enjoy a flight any better will also be dependent on the weather.

You’ve got a decent chance of seeing a kiwi if you park yourself and be quiet around Oban’s rugby field at dusk, and for an unforgettable slice of island life, turn up at the pub for Sunday quiz night.

Unless you’re camping, organise accommodation before heading over to the island as there aren’t a lot of options.

Practical Info Practical Info icon

Stewart Island Experience runs the ferry between Bluff (south of Invercargill) & Oban (Stewart Island). Also runs accommodation, rental vehicles and tours.

Stewart Island Flights operates small aircraft between Invercargill Airport and Stewart Island.

Ackers Point Walk

Amble on road & track (8km / 3hrs return)

Port William to Oban Walk

Rakiura NP daywalk (4-5hrs)

South Sea Hotel

Classic Kiwi pub & rooms (b,l,d; $$)

Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara)

Predator-free paradise for birds

Text © Craig McLachlan

Image by bgwashburn