Lee Bay Road, Rakiura National Park

One of New Zealand's Great Walks, The Rakiura Track is suitable for anyone with moderate fitness and takes walkers through native forest and across sandy beaches. It is a much more relaxed track than some of the other Great Walks, with fewer people and more basic facilities. Listen to birdsong, stroll along isolated beaches and experience scenery that has barely changed in a thousand years.

Recently created, the track provides an introduction to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park that is shorter and easier alternative to the classic but long and difficult North West Circuit. Although the track is technically 29km long, if walking from Oban along the road to the start of the track and back to Oban from the end of the track it is a total of 36km for the entire circuit. Transport to and from the track can be arranged if you prefer.

One end of the track is at Lee Bay, 5km north of Oban (Stewart Island's only settlement), and the other end is at Fern Gully, 2km west of Oban. It is most often walked anticlockwise, starting at Lee Bay, but can be walked in either direction. It is suitable for tramping all year round and comfortably takes three days to walk, although it can be done in two.

The track itself, most of which is board-walked or gravelled, follows the open coast, delves into native bush, climbs over forested ridges, traverses sheltered coastline, and meanders over sandy beaches. It passes sites of historical interest such as an abandoned 1870s settlement at Port William and fascinating historic artifacts from old logging endeavors - in particular, big steam engines in unlikely places! Parts of the track cross Maori land and access is courtesy of the owners. The main highlight of the track is the chance to see and hear a plethora of native bird species, including Kiwi.

Two huts and three campsites dot the walk; all are managed by the Department of Conservation and must be booked in advance.

Venture Southland
Last modified
Tue 26 May 2020
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