5 Reasons you need to visit Stewart Island

5 Reasons you need to visit Stewart Island
Jason Nockels

Written by Jason Nockels

New Zealand’s third largest island doesn’t make it onto everyone’s itinerary and it’s such a shame. It’s a place of raw, natural beauty, home to an incredible array of wildlife and there is a huge range of walking trails to keep you busy. You could have the night of your life in New Zealand’s southernmost pub, spot a Kiwi in the wild or even see seals in town – we’re not kidding! Stewart Island is full of surprises and in case you need more convincing, here are 5 reasons you should visit Rakiura, ‘the land of glowing skies’.

1. Crossing the Foveaux Strait

The journey to Stewart Island is an experience in itself. Only foot passengers can make the journey, so you’ll have to park up the campervan in Bluff for a few days before you begin your crossing. Notorious for bad weather, the crossing could have anything in store for you. The Stewart Island Experience ferries run six crossings a day and the staff are brilliant. It’s a crossing to remember, with Albatross swooping through the air and spectacular views of Stewart Island and the smaller surrounding islands.

2. Ulva Island

No trip to Stewart Island would be complete without visiting Ulva Island, a short twenty-minute ride by water taxi. Ulva Island is a renowned nature sanctuary and home to a huge collection of native plants and birds. It’s a wonderful experience walking the trails under the huge forest canopy listening to the birdcalls as you go. Keep an eye out for the inquisitive Weka and Stewart Island Robin who will come over to say hello. You might even get lucky and spot a Kiwi!

3. Kiwi Spotting

On Stewart Island you have one of the best chance of anywhere on the planet of spotting a Kiwi in the wild. The Stewart Island Kiwi is a little bigger and has a longer beak than it’s northern friends and they are more active in daylight, improving your chances of seeing one. Keep an eye out around sunrise and sunset when they are most likely to be out and about.

4. Walking

Crisscrossed with walking trails, Stewart Island has walks for everyone. With walks lasting from less than an hour up to two weeks, there are plenty of choices. The island is even home to one of New Zealand’s Nine Great Walks, the Rakiura Track, a 39km, three-day loop. If you are looking for something more, you can tackle the North West Circuit taking you through 125km of rugged coastline, secluded beaches and remote bush. Whatever you choose, Stewart Islands trails won’t disappoint.

5. Oban Township

Oban is the only major settlement in Stewart Island. It’s where the Stewart Island Experience ferry drops you off, and where you are likely to set up camp for your trip. It’s home to New Zealand’s most southerly pub and is full of surprises. A seal ventured up into town one morning while we were having coffee, chased people up the streets, teeth bared before venturing back into the water – now that’s something you don’t see everyday!


These are just five of the awesome things to do in Stewart Island! There are so many more fun things to do on Stewart Island, so pick up a camper with Mighway from Christchurch, or anywhere in New Zealand and make a start on your next adventure!