With its unspoilt beauty and clear water Stewart Island is a nature lover's paradise and the best place in New Zealand to spot a brown kiwi in the wild.

New Zealand's third largest island is located across the Foveaux Strait, 30 kilometres south of the South Island. Known as Rakiura to Maori meaning 'the land of glowing skies’, possibly for the stunning sunrises and sunsets or for the appearance of aurora australis that light up the Southern night sky. Kiwis outnumber humans on Stewart Island with an estimated 20,000 flourishing on the island. Ulva Island is a predator free sanctuary home to a plethora of native New Zealand birds including the South Island saddleback, mohua, rifleman and Stewart Island Robin. Stewart Island is 85% national park and the island attracts many walkers and hikers with its impressive inland and coastal tracks, it is also home to one of New Zealand’s great walks.

Stewart Island - Rakiura
Natural scenery, Stewart Island - Rakiura

Popular onshore activities in Stewart Island

  • Enjoy a hike on one of Stewart Island's many walking and hiking tracks such as the Golden Bay - Deep Bay - Peterson's Hill track.
  • View Stewart Island from above with a scenic helicopter ride.
  • Take a trip to spot the Brown Kiwi and other endangered birds on predator-free Ulva Island.
  • Enjoy Southern hospitality and tuck into Stewart Island salmon, blue cod and Bluff oysters.
  • Explore beautiful inlets and secluded bays with a boat cruise.
  • Learn about Stewart Island's history at Rakiura Museum(opens in new window).

Getting around

Cruise ships anchor at Paterson Inlet. Golden Bay is a 15 minute walk from the township of Oban in Halfmoon Bay. 

The township of Oban is compact, making walking easy. To explore the other parts of the island it is necessary to join a bus tour or hire a vehicle. 

Maps and activity suggestions are available from staff on the wharf, or visit one of the information centres in Oban Township. 

Car rental

There are limited rentals on the island and bookings are essential, particularly in summer (December to February).

Water transport

A ferry operates across the Foveaux Strait from Stewart Island to Bluff return; the journey takes approximately one hour. 

Water taxis are also available on Stewart Island.


Bluff is a 12-minute helicopter ride from Stewart Island. Fixed-winged aircraft operate from Stewart Island to Invercargill; this flight takes 20 minutes. 

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