3 Days 32 KMS

Highlights

  • Beautiful wilderness beaches
  • Birdsong and Brown Kiwis
  • Fascinating Maori history

Proximity

GRADE: INTERMEDIATE

On the Rakiura Track you'll discover peace, birdsong and scenery that has barely changed in thousands of years.

Find out how to plan your Rakiura Track trek and walk the paths of one of New Zealand's Great Walks. 

1. Overview of the Rakiura Track

Stewart Island / Rakiura 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 and at night you’ll be lulled to sleep by the "morepork" call of owls and the occasional screech of a kiwi bird. Stewart Island / Rakiura 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; Māori Beach was once the site of a Māori village and a sawmill. 

The Rakiura Track needs to come with a warning about the amount of mud on the track. It's not for the faint hearted but with a little bit of caution the many muddy crossings and walking in heavy, mud soaked boots all adds to the charm and challenge that the Rakiura Track is famous for. 

2. Walking the Rakiura Track

The fitter you are the more you will enjoy yourself, so a good level of fitness and strength is necessary. 

Find out more about the walk and what is involved; 

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 Māori 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(opens in new window) 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 Māori Beach and Port William.

Hikers generally stay the night at Port William Hut(opens in new window) 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(opens in new window) 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 which years ago was the most used and best maintained on the island.

Further along you'll come across Fern Gully Carpark. It's another 2 kilometres along the road to Oban township from here. 

3. Accommodation on Rakiura Track

Two huts and three campsites are spread out along the walk, they are all managed by the Department of Conservation.

Huts are supplied with mattresses, a wood stove for heating, running water and toilets.

Bookings for both the huts and campsites are essential especially during the Great Walks season (late October to late April)

Book your huts online(opens in new window) or purchase from the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre in Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island / Rakiura.

 

Book Rakiura Track huts

4. Towns near the Rakiura Track

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. 

5. Getting to the Rakiura Track trail head

The Rakiura Track can be walked in either direction, starting from two locations:

  • The official entrance to Rakiura National Park at Lee Bay, 5 km from Oban. If walking from the DOC visitor centre in Oban, turn right and walk down Main Road. Turn left into Elgin Terrace, past the supermarket, and up the hill. Follow this main coastal road over a series of hills to Horseshoe Bay, then on to Lee Bay.
  • The Fern Gully car park, 2 km beyond the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre, which is located on Main Road in Oban.

If you prefer not to walk from Oban, shuttles can be used for drop-offs at Lee Bay or water taxis can be used for access to Rakiura Track huts. 

Access to North Arm Hut by boat is dependent on tides.

Getting to Stewart Island/Rakiura

To get to Oban, the only township on Stewart Island/Rakiura, you can take a 20-minute flight from Invercargill or a 1-hour ferry trip across Foveaux Strait from the southern port of Bluff. In Oban you’ll find accommodation, supplies, equipment hire and transport to and from the start of the track.

6. Book a guided tour of the Rakiura Track

Booking a walk with a tour provider

A specialist tour operator can aid in bringing your walking experience to life. Ruggedy Range offers quality guided walks.

Booking a walk independently

If you want to do a Great Walk independently, you will need to book the DOC accommodation on the trails. The fee for this varies between each Great Walk. It is recommended that you book in advance for this popular walk.

7. How to prepare for the Great Walks of New Zealand

Five simple rules, also known as The Land Safety Code, to help you stay safe when trekking or tramping in the outdoors of New Zealand. 

1. Choose the right trip for you

Make sure the chosen trip is suitable for your fitness level.

2. Understand the weather

New Zealand's weather changes quickly, always check the forecast. If the weather is bad, wait until it clears or turn around. 

3. Pack warm clothes and extra food

Prepare for bad weather and an unexpected night out.

4. Share your plans and ways to get help

Tell a trusted person your trip details and take a personal locator beacon with you - these can be purchased or hired from local gear shops.

5. Take care of yourself and others 

Eat, drink and rest. Stay with your group and always make decisions together. 

The Land Safety Code

What to pack for Great Walks of New Zealand

Having the right gear is essential when tramping in the outdoors. 

Watch this video(opens in new window) to find out what to pack and events to prepare for. 

Find out all you need to know about walking in New Zealand at Adventure Smart(opens in new window).

Find out what to pack

View the Rakiura Track on a map

Department of Conservation

Click the link below for more information and detailed maps about this trail.

Rakiura Track(opens in new window)

Book your Rakiura Track adventure

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