Nestled at the base of the South Island, Stewart Island is home to approx 400 permanent residents; most living in the seaside settlement of Oban. This strong community take immense pride in their isolated, wildlife paradise.
The pace is very relaxed and stress free and while it's a great place to rest and recharge, there is no shortage of things to do. In addition to the 32 kilometre Rakiura Track, (one of NZ's Great Walks generally taking 3 days), there are plenty of interesting, scenic, short walks to choose from. And with crystal clear water, swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, diving and fishing are all popular activities.
Ulva Island, a scenic reserve since 1922, is a popular destination and one of NZ's few predator free sanctuaries. From Oban, it's a 15-minute walk over the hill to Golden Bay, followed by a short boat trip. A ferry operates at scheduled times supplemented by a water taxi service. The island is a mecca for bird watchers, and walkers with a myriad of well maintained, clearly signposted tracks, which pass through native bush and lush forest to the many beautiful beaches. Take a picnic and take your time to explore.
Rakiura Museum reveals the rich early history of whalers, sealers, ship building, and documents the difficulties and challenges faced by early settler's intent on carving out a life on a small, isolated island with an unpredictable climate and frequent rain.
The guided Wild Kiwi Experience at night is a "must do" excursion. It includes an informative video, boat trip, a guided walk by torchlight through bush and along the beach with a high success rate of encountering our native Kiwi in its natural habitat.
Stewart Island is only a short flight from Invercargill, or a one hour boat trip from Bluff. We took bikes over on the ferry, however I wouldn't recommend unless you are ultra-fit or have an electric bike. Apart from the few streets in the heart of Oban, head off in any direction and you are faced with some wickedly steep hills.
The South Sea Hotel is the hub of the town, a place to meet the locals and enjoy delicious, affordable meals including blue cod and other seafood. Conveniently close to the ferry terminal, they also have rooms available some with terrific views of the harbour. South Sea Hotel
A variety of accommodation options cater for all budgets. We stayed in a cosy little cottage at Butterfield Beach.
For more details visit: www.stewartisland.co.nz