Rakiura Stewart Island is the southernmost and smallest island of the three main islands of New Zealand. Just 30km from the South Island, it is a perfect retreat for those seeking peace, quiet, and adventure.
Stewart Island is a unique environment; despite being Subantarctic, its clear turquoise sea and white sand beaches make Rakiura look more like a tropical paradise. The Aurora Australis Southern Lights can be regularly sighted from the island, making it a spectacular location for astrotourism and leading to the name Rakiura, “The Land of Glowing Skies”.
Roughly 85% of the island forms the wild and enchanting Rakiura National Park. One of the best ways to experience the park is by tramping the Rakiura Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, which explores the island’s range of unmodified ecosystems - from rainforests and wetlands to vast sand dunes. The island is home to over 280km of walking tracks making it a great destination for trampers and hikers alike. Other activities include birding, fishing, sea kayaking, diving and hunting.
An absolute must-do, Ulva Island Te Wharawhara is a predator-free sanctuary in Stewart Island’s Paterson Inlet. The Island, especially Ulva Island, is a haven for birdlife, such as friendly Kākā and Weka, colourful Kākāriki, South Island Saddlebacks, little Blue Penguins, rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins Hoiho, and dozens of other native species. It is the only place in New Zealand where you can readily see Brown Kiwi in their natural habitat.
Access to the island is by a 20-minute flight from Invercargill or a one-hour ferry ride from Bluff.