Stewart Island is a world where nature is very much in charge. On the Rakiura Track you'll discover peace, birdsong and scenery that has barely changed in thousands of years.
Stewart Island is the place to find peace and solitude, surrounded by a habitat that has changed little for thousands of years. During the day, your feet will find the rhythm of the trail; at night you’ll be lulled to sleep by the "morepork" call of owls and the occasional screech of a kiwi bird. Stewart Island has a huge bird population. While people number less than 400, the island’s rich, pure podocarp forest is a sanctuary for native birds. The track itself follows the open coast, climbs over forested ridges and traverses sheltered coastline. Most of the track is board-walked. Beautiful wilderness beaches are a special feature; Maori Beach was once the site of a Maori village and a sawmill.
Day 1, Lee Bay > Port William Hut, 8km
Today you'll hike through stunning beaches and past fascinating relics of days gone by. The track begins at Lee Bay, where you'll follow the coast to little river which you'll cross on a footbridge. From here, the track leads on to Maori Beach, where you'll cross a creek on another bridge. A track leading to a rusting steam boiler, a relic from the sawmilling days, is just a few minutes on from the turn-off to this bridge. Port William Hut can be found along the beach, over the hill and above Magnetic Beach, the next one along the coast.
Day 2, Port William Hut > North Arm Hut, 13km
Today's section of track begins on the hill between Maori Beach and Port William. Hikers generally stay the night at Port William Hut before backtracking 40 minutes to the turn-off. The track then passes through podocarp forest and previously milled vegetation. Historical milling activity can be seen along the track; it follows old tramlines that were used for transporting the milled trees. North Arm Hut is shortly after the forested area.
Day 3, North Arm Hut > Fern Gully Carpark, 11km
Sidling around the headland from North Arm Hut to Sawdust Bay, you'll come across another old sawmill site before heading through lush native forest and emerging at Kaipipi Bay. From here, you'll follow the former Kaipipi Road; years ago the most used and best maintained on the island. Further along you'll come across Fern Gully Carpark; it's another 2km along the road to Oban township from here.
During the walk
Two huts and three campsites dot the walk; all are managed by the Department of Conservation. Huts are supplied with matresses, a wood stove for heating, running water and toilets. Bookings for both the huts and campsites are essential - these can be completed online or purchased from the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre in Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island.
Before and after
Stewart Island's largest town, Oban, is home to a range of accommodation - make sure to stay a few days before or after your walk to explore more of the island. Bluff, where the ferry leaves from, offers very limited places to stay. If you're catching a flight to Stewart Island, Invercargill offers a large range of accommodation to choose from.
A specialist tour operator can aid in bringing your walking experience to life. Ruggedy Range offers quality guided walks.
Walking the Rakiura Track independently is straightforward and easy to plan. The track itself is free to walk, but you'll need to book your hut or campsite before you begin.