Stewart Island: Ecological Wonderland & New Zealand Jewel

A remarkable hideaway that embraces the serenity of nature but also promises a Southern adventure, Stewart Island is a "must do" when visiting New Zealand.

Beauty cloaks Stewart Island. A 20-minute flight from Invercargill with Stewart Island Flights, or a one-hour ferry from Bluff across Foveaux Strait with Stewart Island Experience, gives way to a unique ecological world. 

Check out some of our top picks for experiencing Stewart Island.

1. Go Hiking, Walking, Tramping

Stewart Island’s setting and wildlife make for a tramper’s utopia. Its 240 kilometres of treks range from 10-minute strolls to 12-day-long adventures in the island’s far-flung reaches. Which one will you do?

Our top picks include the Rakiura Track, Port William ExcursionCoast to Coast and Stewart Island's top short walks. If you would like to hike with a guide there are plenty of options available with Kiwi Wilderness Walks and Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience

2. Birds, Birds, Birds

Nature lovers travel from far and wide to see New Zealand's largest and most diverse bird population. See kaka, albatross, penguins and weka (just to name a few) as Stewart Island is home to numerous species many of which can only be seen on the island.   

We also can't forget the famous Stewart Island Brown Kiwi. The island offers the best chance in New Zealand to see Kiwi in the wild and in their natural habitat - they outnumber humans 20-1. However, as they are a nocturnal bird you will need to stay overnight. For the best chance of seeing them we recommend you take a tour and some great companies include Bravo Adventure Cruises and Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience

3. Escape to the island sanctuary of Ulva Island

Just a short boat ride from Stewart Island is the forest-clad Ulva Island, a pest-free open sanctuary where you can learn and see New Zealand's bird species and flora that couldn’t survive on the mainland. Half or full day trips are easily organised and you can go with or without a specialist guide.

If you're looking for a guided experience on Ulva Island there are loads of options. Some of our top picks include: Ulva's Guided Walks, Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience, Stewart Island Experience Paterson Inlet Cruise, Rakiura Charters and Sails Ashore.

4. Eat, Drink, Laugh, Learn

Stewart Island is world famous for its seafood and there are loads of great places to try it. We would recommend the South Sea Hotel, Church Hill Restaurant & Oyster Bar and the Kai Kart. The Kiwi French Cafe is also great if you would like something sweet.  

Looking for a challenge? We recommend you join the locals for a beer and a feed at the famous Stewart Island Quiz Night. Prince Harry took part in the quiz when he visited in 2015!

You can discover the fascinating history of this southern land at the Rakiura Museum. Gain local knowledge and insight about Stewart Island by taking scenic, guided tours which showcase the unique island stories. These tours depart regulary by bus. Options include the Village and Bays Tour and the Island Culture Scenic Road Tour

Theatre more your thing? Stewart Island has one of those too! A Locals Tail is a special story created by two Stewart Island residents to showcase the areas unique heritage, people and their determination to make this southern land home. 

5. Fish the Foveaux Strait

Fishing for Blue Cod on Foveaux Straight is another popular activity and several charter operators offer either half or full day trips. Don't worry if you don't have gear as this will be supplied for you. The skippers are mainly ex-commercial fisherman so they know where all the best locations are. 

Some of our top picks include LoLoma Charters, Rakiura Charters and Aurora Charters

6. Under the Sea: Dive with a Great White Shark

How about getting eye to eye with a great white shark in the safety of a shark cage? Running from January to June only, this is your chance to get up close and personal with these fascinating creatures of the sea. Are you up for the thrill and excitement? If you are, head to Shark Dive NZ or Shark Experience NZ.

Top accommodation picks:

Bay Motel

Observation Rock Lodge Stewart Island

Kaka Retreat

Stewart Island Lodge 

South Sea Hotel

Top regional websites include:

Southland, New Zealand

Stewart Island

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