Stewart Island is a small island and haven for native bird life. Stewart Island is the only place in New Zealand where you can readily see kiwi in their natural habitat.
Insulated from the world by its remoteness, Stewart Island is a haven for people looking for tranquillity and adventure.
The island is about 75 kilometres long and up to 45 kilometres wide. About 85% of the island is a national park and it has only one town—Halfmoon Bay, also known as Oban. Many residents are direct descendants of the whalers and early Rakiura Maori, with family histories reaching back almost 200 years.
Most of Stewart Island is protected by the boundaries of Rakiura National Park, New Zealand's newest national park.
Rakiura is the Maori name for Stewart Island. It translates as 'the Land of Glowing Skies', probably referring to the night-time displays of Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights.
The western coast of Stewart Island is characterised by sea-pounded cliffs and sandy beaches. On the eastern side of the island there are three sheltered inlets—Paterson Inlet, with a 160 kilometre shoreline, is the largest. Vegetation ranges from podocarp and hardwood forest in the north to low forest and coastal vegetation in the south.
The approximate population of Stewart Island is 450 people.
Stewart Island is a paradise for hikers. It has about 245 kilometres of walking tracks, all of which can be accessed from Halfmoon Bay.
The walking tracks on Stewart Island range from short walks around the township area, to epic journeys that require fitness, stamina and a large degree of self-reliance.
Bird watchers are drawn to Stewart Island because in one day—with a pelagic cruise, a visit to Ulva Island bird sanctuary and a kiwi spotting trip—it's possible to see more than 30 species. Bonus sightings on these trips include bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, sea lions and the occasional sea elephant.
Five penguin species are found on Stewart Island—yellow-eyed, southern blue, rockhopper, Fiordland crested and Snares crested.
To help plan your Stewart Island holiday choose from the main categories below:
Key information and facts about the Stewart Island region.
Major activities and attractions in the Stewart Island region.