If there was ever a place that captured my coronary heart so totally, it might be Stewart Island.
Tucked just off the top of New Zealand’s South Island 30 kilometers throughout the Foveaux Strait from Bluff, this tiny paradise represents the last piece of recent civilization before you hit Antarctica. New Zealand’s third island is remote and untamed, typically missed by visitors right here AND IT SHOULDN’T BE.
Rakiura, the island’s Māori identify, means “glowing skies” which is a reference to the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) which may typically be seen from the island. You will need to go to Stewart Island.
Flanked by wild waves and even wilder climate, Stewart Island is wild, lovely and presents a rare glimpse of a really untouched NZ. With its rugged peaks, dense bush, huge beaches and interesting historical past, you’ll depart here together with your eyes vast open and your heart full.
It’s taken me up until now to mirror back on this trip with happiness, as a result of a go to Stewart Island is the place the place I discovered 150 beaching pilot whales, a traumatic expertise I’m still reckoning with. However aside from that I spent a week there at the end of final yr and it was incredibly special and I’m so eager to return repeatedly.
Rakiura stole my heart.
Oh and did I point out all of the birds? Clearly I also love to visit Stewart Island because it’s where one of the very last populations of kākāpō have been discovered, and if I have my approach, they’ll ultimately come again here too at some point.
Actually, there are more (rare) birds than individuals (true story) right here. And, it’s fairly close to the one place within the nation you have a real shot at seeing an actual, stay, kiwi in the wild. And no, not just on the local pub at 5pm. I’m talking concerning the feathered selection.
Oops. I digress. Let’s transfer on, in any other case this publish will grow to be all concerning the birds and rugged kiwi males (hit. me. up.)
So if you’re on the lookout for a distinctive kiwi experience off the grid with beautiful nature and wildlife, listed here are eight reasons why you should make Stewart Island a priority on your subsequent trip over. You’re welcome.
- 1 1. It’s a probability to experience the real New Zealand
- 2 2. You’ll be able to spot a Kiwi within the wild
- 3 three. The history is fascinating and wild
- 4 4. Take a look at Ulva Island (because birds)
- 5 5. Say hello to the locals!
- 6 6. The tramping (or climbing as the remainder of the world calls it) is outstanding
- 7 7. The accommodation is subsequent degree
- 8 8. The seashores are superb. And you’ll more than possible have them to your self!
1. It’s a probability to experience the real New Zealand
Every thing about Stewart Island is dialed back, and you only need to spend a jiffy there to really really feel like you’ve stepped again in time. With only 400 individuals completely dwelling there on an island that is 1,746 sq. kilometers in measurement, over eighty % of the island is protected national park and uninhabited.
The wilderness is EPIC. It’s true once they say that Stewart Island provides you a glimpse of what all of NZ would have appeared like before individuals came.
From the moment you board the ferry over from Bluff to the moment you depart the island, you’ll get a sense of wilderness in contrast to anyplace else. And in basic kiwi trend, how boring wouldn’t it be if the ferry experience was flat a mean!
Typically calm, however principally wild, the Foveaux Strait is short and shallow, and takes solely an hour to cross, but be certain to not eat beforehand and nab a seat by the window. Or if you’re me and you’re fortunate you’ll be subsequent to a faculty group the day after a large storm (massive rolling seas) and listening to a bunch of youths spewing their brains out – *instantly refills my birth control*
2. You’ll be able to spot a Kiwi within the wild
Um. Might this place get any better?
As I’ve already talked about, a visit Stewart Island is literal heaven for a chook nerd comparable to me. However what makes it even more special, is the opportunity to see a actual, reside kiwi chook within the wild.
These birds are the nationwide emblem of New Zealand and are extremely uncommon. A big quantity of work by DOC has been put in during the last decade, to make sure the survival of these lovely flightless creatures, and whereas Stewart Island still has a large drawback with feral cats going after their native birds, there are not any stoats right here which have partly allowed kiwi to thrive once more.
I’ve managed to see several in the wild and I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting them. Being nocturnal, they’re typically lively here at nightfall or proper earlier than sunrise and you can hear their excessive pitched calls and if you’re very quiet you can hear them stomping around within the bush. They are pretty noisy.
As kiwis are nocturnal, the most effective probability you have of spotting them is at night time, on a dedicated Kiwi encounter tour.
Real Journeys run a two hour guided stroll, limited to solely 16 individuals per night time, in order to not disturb the birds (a critical thumbs up from me). You’ll start at nightfall, and by way of torchlight head out via native forest to Ocean Seashore, a well-liked feeding ground for the Southern Brown Kiwi. NOT to be missed individuals!
It additionally books out super far prematurely too, heads up. And if you can’t take part, simply spend a while out on the tracks as the Stewart Island kiwi are often seen in the course of the day too, and if you look rigorously you can typically see their footprints within the mud or sand, formed like an arrow.
three. The history is fascinating and wild
Despite its remote location and apparent wilderness, Stewart Island truly has a long and fascinating historical past.
Māori have been visiting and dwelling round Rakiura for tons of of years harvesting tītī (muttonbirds) and fish.
While tourism and fishing stay the primary financial industries, the late 1860’s noticed a lot of the native Rimu forest felled for timber, while 1890’s introduced a brief lived tin mining growth, as well as being hub for each sealing and whaling. Shivers.
Stays of both the logging and tin mining operations might be visited, in addition to an previous tramway at Port Pegasus. You can too go to a Norwegian Whaling station at Paterson Inlet, and Ackers Cottage, considered the oldest building in New Zealand. And you can typically find previous whale bones out on the beaches too.
4. Take a look at Ulva Island (because birds)
A tiny forested island just inside the Paterson Inlet, Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara) is a picturesque, predator-free fowl sanctuary – a few of my favourite words! Undoubtedly make time for a go to out right here.
Right here, native bush covers a lot of the land, offering shelter for weka, tui, bellbirds, kaka, the uncommon saddleback and kiwi. Many different birds thrive here, in addition to a number of of New Zealand’s distinctive plant species.
Ulva Island is relatively iconic in New Zealand as certainly one of the few pest-free open sanctuaries in New Zealand – no nasty mammals like cats, rats and possums to eat the native birds and bush. Here in this unspoiled rainforest you have the prospect to spot uncommon birds up shut and private in a protected surroundings principally unchanged by humans. I. LOVE. IT.
A hoiho – an endangered yellow-eyed penguin
I took the Real Journeys Ulva Island explorer tour which showcased this unspoiled isle to its fullest extent. I was notably impressed with the information of the guides, who regaled us with tales of the native Māori and early European settlers in addition to spotting sea lions, albatross and penguins on our method there and again by boat.
A warm and cloudless day, it was fairly special strolling the little trails across the island and hearing the robust birdsong within the forest.
I beloved having a little robin comply with me the whole path.
A curious male sea lion
5. Say hello to the locals!
The locals listed here are considered one of a sort (or 400 of a sort, if you need to get technical about it). They’re welcoming, pleasant, filled with fascinating tales, even I disagree with lots of them about pest management there – but that’s a battle for an additional day.
Even if hundreds of us descend on their slice of paradise weekly, they remain completely satisfied, useful and all the time prepared to lend a hand. It’s small city New Zealand at their best.
I recommend heading to the pub for a chat and a meal of recent oysters, salmon or blue cod (almost certainly caught simply a few hours before), however in summer time typically it’s so busy you’ve acquired to guide in your meals prematurely or prepare dinner for yourself.
6. The tramping (or climbing as the remainder of the world calls it) is outstanding
With almost 300 kilometers of walking tracks on Stewart Island it’s straightforward to get misplaced – deliberately in fact – but in addition not – plan accordingly!
A lot of the tracks take you on a lovely journey via native rainforest and along huge golden beaches. Many are serviced by primary DOC (Division of Conservation) huts however you can deliver your personal tent if you wish too. Certainly one of New Zealand’s Great Walks is here – the Rakiura Monitor, a 3 day 32 kilometer loop monitor.
Be warned though – a lot of the in a single day hikes right here, while significantly spectacular, are grueling. Not because of massive mountains or climbs, however slightly as a result of the bush right here is dense and intense as I wish to say, and when it rains it turns into a veritable lavatory. I’m talking mud as much as your waist. It’s demanding but rewarding, but to not be taken frivolously and most of the tracks need to be timed in line with low tides.
When the path turns into a pond
Although the tracks are straightforward to comply with and are nicely signposted, the days are lengthy and the distances between huts are great. Due to the remoteness and potential for wild climate (as with all hike) It will be significant you are prepared. See right here for assist with safety and what to pack.
But to not fear if you’re just not that eager on a long slog there are plenty of fairly day walks that depart you feeling just as unplugged as a five-day adventure. Additionally, day walks imply wine at sunset back within the consolation of the place you’re staying. Bonus!
The two-hour Fern Gully monitor or the 4 hour horseshoe Level walk are good for mountaineering learners, and feature unimaginable surroundings alongside the best way. For the extra seasoned trampers, the North Western Circuit or the Southern Circuit gained’t disappoint.
Our normal meals of freeze-dry Again Nation Cuisine
7. The accommodation is subsequent degree
Assume a mixture of cute one-of-a-kind baches combined with cosy lodges with five-star views. I’m a little biased on this one because I stayed at the Stewart Island Lodge, and guys, you should in all probability (undoubtedly) keep here, if you can nab a booking. It fills up quick!
With panoramic vistas of Halfmoon Bay (the primary settlement space) out in the direction of the Foveaux Strait, a vast wrap-around veranda and a peaceable grounds full of native birds, this lodge is pure bliss.
Even just the view is to die for.
I principally just needed to take a seat in a simple chair with a ebook my whole keep, which I shamelessly did for hours. Watching the waves and the wild climate roll in (with a glass of wine in hand) is my sort of therapy.
Within the garden you can typically hear and see tui calling, chubby fat kereru waddling round and be sung to by bellbirds. It’s just divine.
I might like to spend a week here!
A kereru – native New Zealand wood pigeon
8. The seashores are superb. And you’ll more than possible have them to your self!
With over 700 kilometres of coast, Stewart Island is literally surrounded by lovely beaches all over the place you look. Extensive, wild and virtually all the time deserted, the one thing lacking is a piña colada and deck chair. Combined with crystal clear blue water, it virtually appears tropical, that is till you bounce in. Brisk as!
Head to the aptly named ‘Bathing Beach,’ inside strolling distance of the primary township Oban, for a fast swim, or enterprise further afield to Little Hellfire, Māori Seashore or Mason Bay for spectacular golden sand dunes.
Mason Bay is one among my favourite places on the earth, even if that’s where I discovered the beaching whales. A shocking 14 kilometer large seashore, it’s wild and remote and doubtless probably the most uncovered seashore in New Zealand.
Stewart Island is not to be missed on your New Zealand Bucket listing. Escape the trappings of recent life, and see NZ the best way it was meant to be. You gained’t remorse it!
While it doesn’t have the mighty mountains of the Southern Alps or the beautiful blue lakes, Stewart Island has a magic all on its own, that can attraction to many. Relaxed and delightful, I virtually might see myself dwelling there, alone in a bach by the ocean. Sigh. Time to plan my return I reckon!
Have you been to Stewart Island? Is Rakiura in your bucket record? Spill!