It’s the perfect excuse to get to know the Land of the Glowing Skies.
New Zealand’s southern-most trail run, the Rakiura Challenge, is the ultimate weekend getaway anchored around the hugely rewarding experience of conquering one of New Zealand’s famous Great Walks in a single day.
That leaves the rest of the weekend for Kiwi-spotting, sampling the best blue cod this side of the southern ocean, maybe a sunset kayak, and of course exploring the pristine native bush and sandy beaches. You may feel like you’re the only person left on earth, give or take the odd lounging sea-lion or seal.
From the moment you step off the ferry or hop off your flight you’ll feel the island’s special sense of community, a welcome that is as genuine as it is warm.
It’s a community event for people of all ages, shapes and sizes who want to challenge themselves in the best possible way.
It’s effort rewarded with riches — stunning views of Te-Ara-a-Kiwa/Foveaux Strait — and that oh-so-deserved glass of wine at the end of the day.
Cheered on your way by a good number of the island’s 400 residents, you snake your way round the coastal road to Lee Bay — past the magnificent anchor sculpture commemorating the opening of Rakiura National Park. Then it’s onwards and inland as you are sustained by beautiful regenerating podocarp forest and lush, dense virgin forest.
Along the way you’ll spot hulking log haulers dating back to the late 1800s, when giants of the forest were dragged to coastal sawmills. Descending to North Arm, you’ll follow in the footsteps of early Maori, who as far back as the 13th century embraced the island’s mahinga kai (food gathering sites).
Now you’re heading for the eastern coast, undulating through myriad hidden bays, crossing tidal mudflats and passing historic milling sites. Then inland for the final stretch through regenerating bush, and that last climb where your mind begins to mull your post-challenge options – maybe you will have that second piece of blue cod. You deserve it, after all.
Because the end of the challenge is just the beginning on this island of exquisite contrasts.
Explore the towering, ancient rainforests of pest-free Ulva Island sanctuary – teeming with birdlife, just over the hill from your home base in Oban. Seek out an audience with a Stewart Island Brown Kiwi, often seen out and about during daytime.
Rakiura’s verdant rainforest grows right down to sea-level – it’s a primeval place that will leave you spellbound.
As the sun sets, look to the stars for some of the purest dark skies you’ll find — you may even be rewarded with a lush display of colour from the resident Aurora Australis.
The Land of the Glowing Skies is waiting for you — what are you waiting for?