View of Native Island from Wohlers lookout, Stewart Island. © tsvibrav

Stewart Island Rakiura: a world away

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New Zealand’s third largest island, Stewart Island is a unique, curious place that is well worth a visit.

It could be said that you haven’t really seen all of the country until you’ve crossed the wild and woolly Foveaux Strait and come to Rakiura. ‘The Land of Glowing Skies’. Yep, if the conditions are right you can see the Aurora Australis from here. That alone is worth the trip.

Beautiful sandy beaches, some outstanding hikes, and a chance to see the Stewart Island kiwi or tokoeka in the wild: all only 40km from the mainland.

It is a world away, though, truly unspoilt and so home to more birdlife than you could possibly imagine. Around eighty-five per cent of the island is protected in a national park, so if it’s wildlife, not nightlife that you’re after, you’ve got your spot. Yes, there’s Oban, the friendly town centre, but you’ll be lucky to spot an ATM (tip: it’s in the Four Square), let alone ultra-fast broadband. But you might spot birds of a rare and curious nature – the kiwi even come out in the daytime here – and there are beaches that look like they were last visited by humans 800 years ago. And you’ll be able to grab some of that paua, crayfish and other ocean delights in much abundance.

Rakiura National Park kiwi sign

Look out for kiwi! © Christopher Straessler Creative Commons

If you’re frustrated that in all your trekking about the other two islands you haven’t quite captured that ‘getting right away from it all’ feeling, Stewart Island is the place to you. If you can’t relax and feel far from the madding crowd here, then you’ll need to book a lunar escape. Nothing else for it.

Rakiura National Park chain link

The chainlink sculpture at Lee Bay marks the start of the Rakiura Track.  © DOC Creative Commons



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Where to stay in Stewart Island

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From $175
Bay Motel

Most of the units and the apartment have panoramic ocean views of Halfmoon Bay, while the others have views of bush-clad hills and the township. 10...

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From $60
Jo & Andy's B&B

Cosy, centrally heated, homestay with good music and books and warm personal service. In town yet close to beach and bush. All prices include free ...

From $235
Stewart Island Lodge

Stewart Island Lodge is a peaceful accommodation retreat nestled in native bush just five minutes' walk from Stewart Island's village. This private...