Guided Tours

Mason Bay - Freshwater River Hike with Ruggedy Range™

+64 3 219 1066
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14 Main Road, Oban

The middle section of Stewart Island from the west to east coast comprises: Mason Bay, the Freshwater Flats / Freshwater Valley and Paterson Inlet.

Mason Bay has approximately 14kms (9 miles) of curved beach, one of the most extensive natural sand dune systems in New Zealand with native coastal plants. Coastal forest, tussock, grasses and scrub surround Mason Bay. Further inland, the surrounding northern and southern hills slope down to an extensive wetland area - the Freshwater Flats.  A multitude of creeks that run through the flats feed water into Freshwater River. The river meanders down to its estuary at the start of Paterson Inlet, releasing tannin stained water and silt. The changing habitat, allows a variety of native and endemic birds and plants to exist in the area. There is evidence of kiwi and with luck perhaps a chance daytime sighting.  Kiwi are wild birds and sightings are not guaranteed.

This tour is for clients with limited time, who want to experience this wilderness area.  It offers less time than our overnight hikes. For clients who want more time to discover and explore, we recommend the Kiwi Journey or Kiwi, Dunes & Beach trips.


  • This trip is not available on a daily basis due to daylight hours and tidal considerations, and the time needed to complete the hike.
  • Trips may operate in reverse.
  • Weather is always an important consideration. 

Mason Bay and the Freshwater Valley, Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island.  


Water and long drop toilets are available at Mason Bay Hut and Freshwater Hut, the start and end of your hike.


Day pack, raincoat, warm clothing, warm hat and gloves, water bottle, snack, camera and binoculars. Wear hiking shoes. Hiking poles and gaiters are recommended.
We operate an Outdoor Shop (Gear Hire / Purchases).


Contact us for customised packages to include travel to and from Stewart Island by ferry or plane and accommodation before and / or after your guided walk.


To appreciate the diversity that Stewart Island has to offer, we recommend that you come on the following tour:


Some commonly seen birds include:

Land birds: Stewart Island robin, Stewart Island fern bird, New Zealand pipit, tui, bellbird, South Island tomtit, fantail, grey warbler, red-crowned parakeet, wood pigeon, kingfisher, brown creeper, Australasian harrier, skylark, chaffinch, dunnock.

Sea birds: Little blue penguins.

Shore birds: Black-backed gull, red-billed gull, variable oystercatcher, banded dotterel, Stewart Island shag, pied shag, white-fronted tern, black swan.

Note: Kiwi and Southern New Zealand dotterel are seen on some trips.


The flora is varied and includes podocarps on the slopes of the Freshwater Valley, manuka, wetland plants including mosses and lichen, tussock, scrub, flax, coastal and dune plants and a variety of orchid species.

Ruggedy Range
Last modified
Tue 7 Jul 2020
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