Jun 30th, 2020

Rakiura National Park


Rakiura National Park 

Beautiful, remote and untouched, Rakiura National Park on Stewart Island encompasses diverse, spectacular and unmodified habitats, with dense coastal rainforest, freshwater wetlands, rugged mountain peaks, pristine beaches and breathtaking sunsets on the western horizon. The island is a haven for wildlife; seals and sea lions sprawl on the rocky shore, and whales and dolphins often call by. Penguins, Weka, Tui, Kiwi and many other native bird species can often be seen, while a chorus of nocturnal birdlife provides a fitting end to the day.


Interesting facts

  • Rakiura translates to ‘the land of the glowing skies”; this refers to the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights) and to the outstanding sunsets, both often visible from the island.
  • The land area of Stewart Island is around 1700 sq km; 85% of this is included within the national park boundaries.
  • Stewart Island has less than 28km of road, yet over 280km of walking tracks and 700km of coastline.
  • The island is scarcely populated; with a population of around 400 and only one town (Oban), humans are far outnumbered by kiwi.
  • Surrounded on three sides by the immense Southern Ocean the park has no other land mass separating it from the icy waters of Antarctica.
  • There are only approximately 380 permanent residents on Stewart Island.


Hiking opportunities 

With over 280km of walking tracks, there are plenty of opportunities and choices for exploring this pristine island, with a number of short walks from Oban to longer, multi-day hikes.

  • Rakiura Track – one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, this 36km circuit typically takes 3 days to hike and is the perfect opportunity to experience the scenery and history of the island. It is suitable to hike all year round. The track passes through beautiful native forests, past remnants of early Maori settlement and European sawmilling relics.
  • From Oban, a number of walks (30 min to 4 hrs return) offer panoramic views, beaches with sheltered swimming areas and native forest, perfect for families to explore the park. For fantastic views, the 15-min walk (each way) to Observation Rock is recommended.
  • Ulva Island – the predator-free Ulva Island bird sanctuary, accessed by a short water taxi ride, is a great place to see some of New Zealand’s iconic bird species, such as the Rifleman, Mohua, Stewart Island Robin and South Island Saddleback. A network of short walks (20 min to 2 hrs) on well-formed tracks takes you to impressive lookouts and beaches. The tracks are suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.


Rakiura track, Stewart Island 

Hassle-free hiking 

Enquire with us about a trip of a lifetime to Stewart Island. As a remote Island, it is not always easy planning the logistics yourself. Let us do the admin for you so you can spend more time getting excited about your trip.


Stewart Island Track

Enjoy 4 days of solitude on Stewart Island as you hike across the Island from Mason Bay to Halfmoon Bay. Stewart Island is the best location to spot New Zealand's national bird, the Kiwi, in it's natural environment. Transport to and from the island is by flight from Invercargill, we take care of the transport and logistics for you so you can spend more time enjoying this remote Island.


Fiordland, Hollyford and Stewart Island

Experience the magnificence of these iconic locations. You have the opportunity to hike along two of New Zealand Great Walks and take a scenic flight over the breathtaking Milford Sounds. Arriving on Stewart Island you start off the day with a hike along the Rakiura Track, prominent birdlife and stunning coastal views follow you along the way. A free day on the Island allows you plenty of time to explore the variety of surrounding trails, sea kayaking around Pattersons Inlet or taking a unique visit to Ulva Island. This is an eventful 7 day trip covering some of the most outstanding scenery in the South.


Hot tips

  • With annual rainfall of over 1600mm, it is wise to pack a raincoat.
  • If you are prone to seasickness, a flight to the island would be recommended rather than taking the ferry. Foveaux Strait, which separates Stewart Island from the South Island, is renowned for being quite rough at times.
  • At night, if conditions are in your favour, keep an eye out for the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights). The best time to see them is during the late spring - winter months (March to September).
  • The South Sea Hotel is a popular dining spot, just a few hundred metres from the ferry terminal.
  • There are some lovely accommodation options on the island; it’s probably best to book ahead if you are intending to stay overnight.
  • Roads on the island are limited to Oban and the bays surrounding it. Mountain bikes, motor scooters and cars are available to hire. Otherwise, there are shuttle and water taxi services available.


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