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Days: 4.5 days
(Average of 4-5 hrs physical activity per day)
Start/Finish: Start: Victoria Railway Hotel in Invercargill, 6:00pm
Finish: Invercargill Airport, approximately 2:00pm
April 2019: 8, 21
Period 1st Jun 18 - 31st May 19
Children aged 10 - 15 yrs must be accompanied by an adult.
Stay in the historic Victoria Railway Hotel in Invercargill.
Pre-track briefing and evening meal starts at 6:00 pm. Rental cars and any excess luggage can be left at the hotel. Invercargill is 170km from Queenstown and 190km from Te Anau. Shuttles are available from Queenstown and Te Anau.
Departure time changes with the tide (literally !). Fly by light plane from Invercargill airport to Mason Bay passing Codfish Island, an important Kakapo sanctuary.
Landing on Mason Bay beach we take some time to explore this isolated wonderland walking to the Mason Bay Hut, the one night where we "rough it", camping alongside the Mason Bay Hut.
This evening we will see if we can spot one of the local residents, a kiwi. Stewart Island Kiwi, or Tokoeka in Maori, are unique in that they are sometimes seen during the day. It is estimated that about a third of New Zealands Kiwi live on Stewart Island so this is one of the best places to see one in the wild.
An easy (flat) walk across the island to Freshwater. Massive sand dunes, head high tussock and manuka trees house many native birds, including kiwis and robins. At Freshwater Landing meet the water taxi for a half-hour ride down Freshwater River and across Paterson Inlet to Halfmoon Bay. Tonight stay in a classic Southland "crib" or holiday home with power and a shower!
Today we explore Halfmoon Bay by foot and water taxi.
In the morning ( this can alter depending on the weather ) we take a walk to Ackers Point exploring historic buildings on our way to the lighthouse. Then we visit Ulva Island, an open sanctuary playing an important role in the conservation of threatened species. Birds we may see include the weka, kaka, kakariki, kukupa, mohua and tieke. This is our second night in Halfmoon Bay.
Time to explore Halfmoon Bay. Try one of the many short walks, visit a local craft gallery, or just soak up the island ambience. In the afternoon (generally the 1:30pm flight) fly to Invercargill for the completion of your journey. You can choose to stay an extra night or two on Stewart Island or back at Victoria Railway Hotel in Invercargill (own cost).
Average of 4-5 hours physical activity per day.
At times carrying medium sized backpack of 6-10kgs.
Tracks generally in good condition.
Altitude gains of up to 600m on harder days.
No hiking experience necessary.
Reasonable standard of fitness required.
A medium level of fitness is required for Stewart Island. The walking is generally flat. The tracks can be muddy and wet at times.
A good pair of comfortable walking boots or shoes is essential. Some people find walking sticks helpful.
We will provide all camping and cooking equipment, sleeping bags and maps. You provide and carry a pack, personal and hiking equipment. We have packs and wet weather gear available if required but please advise in advance.
Feel free to contact us to help arrange transfers from other locations. Invercargill is 170km from Queenstown, and 190km from Te Anau. Shuttles from Queenstown depart at 7.30am. While on the guided walk, your transport from the South Island to Stewart Island will be by light plane.
All meals are included in the price for this hike including dinner on Day 1.
In Invercargill we stay at the Victoria Railway Hotel. At Mason Bay we stay in a public DOC hut which is comfortable and clean. Toilets are outside and no showers. Sleep in a bunk room or if you prefer spend a night under the stars in a tent ( yes we have air mattresses and warm sleeping bags).
In Halfmoon Bay we normally stay at the Rakiura Lodge. Accommodation is based on double or share twin. Linen is provided. Carry only your own personal items.
There are no additional costs except personal and souvenir items.
Your guides are dedicated to your safety and satisfaction. They each have a special knowledge of Stewart Island and receive additional training on the local flora, fauna and history.
What is included?
All meals, accommodation, transfers, hut and guiding fees, camping and cooking equipment and maps. All linen is provided. Packs and wet weather gear is also available.
What do we need to take?
You will carry your own personal belongings. The rest is provided or carried ahead. Check the "What to Take" information.
What is the weather going to be like?
Stewart Island has over 250 days a year when it rains but it comes and goes pretty quick. Good light wet weather gear is recommended. Be prepared for anything. In summer, daytime temperatures will range from about 10 to 20 degrees Celsius and night time won't get much colder than 5 degrees. Evenings can be a little cooler but all many of the huts and lodges have heating.
Will I be fit enough?
You will enjoy your hike a lot more if you are well prepared. You need to be able to carry a medium sized backpack for 4-8 hours over 10-21km each day. You are encouraged to set your own pace while walking the track, there is no need to keep up with the fastest walkers. The track surfaces vary from beaches, natural tracks, boardwalk, old tramlines and rough terrain broken up by rocks and tree roots. Hiking boots are recommended and will provide firm ankle support on the more challenging tracks. If you are not a regular walker, begin a daily walk regime at east 6-8 weeks before your departure. Some practice carrying a pack and uphill and downhill walking during this time will make you even better prepared for your walk.
I've heard about "sandflies"?
Yes, we do have sandflies in many parts of Fiordland and Stewart Island. In the bush they are not so bad, and in cold or windy weather they are not a problem. However, insect repellent is recommended.
Where can I leave my excess baggage while I'm walking?
Generally you will be able to leave any excess luggage in safe keeping at the beginning of your trip at the hotels/motels where you are staying. If you do not finish where you start luggage forwarding can be arranged.
Is there somewhere secure to leave our vehicle?
Generally the hotels/motels where you are staying will store you vehicle while you are walking if you are staying on your return. Please confirm this with your accommodation. Never leave valuables (passport, cameras, etc.) in your vehicle.
What about our rental car/campervan?
If you would like to return your vehicle a shuttle can be arranged from the nearest depot. Sometimes on long term rental packages it is just as cheap to "hang on" to it and store it at your accommodation.
Can I have a shower on the trail?
In most cases, yes.
Can I wash my clothes?
In some cases. Many of lodges have hand washing facilities with soap powder and drying rooms. Public DoC huts generally have a limited water supply and no separate basins.
I am a dairy intolerant vegan. Is this a problem?
Special dietary requirements are happily catered for. Please do let us know preferences.
Is it OK to travel by myself?
No problem. The groups are small and by the end of the trip you will all be on first name basis.
Are there toilets on the tracks?
Many of the shelters along the tracks have toilets. Most of the lodges have flush toilets.
Is there electricity in the huts?
Guided Walk lodges are run on solar and or generator power. Public DoC huts have no power. You should bring your own small torch or headlamp.
For bookings 4 or more months in advance of the departure a 25% deposit can be paid with the remainder due 65 days prior to your trip. For bookings within 4 months of the departure, full payment is required.
15 days or more before trip departure: 75% refund of trip cost
14 days or less before trip departure: No refund
No refund on any portion can be made after departure of the trip.
The operators reserve the right to alter, amend or cancel any tour, should weather or any other situation demand.
We suggest clients take out a comprehensive travel insurance. World Nomads Travel Insurance provides online quotes.