Off the Beaten Track to... Stewart Island/Rakiura
Stewart Island is the southern most island in New Zealand. Stewart Island is known as Rakiura in Māori, meaning the anchor stone of Māori mythology.
Access to Stewart Island is by ferry or flight. Stepping onto Stewart Island is like arriving in another country. It’s a place where you could (literally) lose yourself in a rugged terrain of swamps, rainforest, rivers, peaks, valleys and wild beaches.
With its population of less than 400 people, 20 kilometres of roads and 700 kilometres of coastline, Stewart Island provides a sense of isolation and a safe retreat for many, including birds such as wekas, kakas, albatross, penguins, tokoekas and silvereyes.
Captain Cook first sighted the island in 1770, but not until 1809 was Stewart Island named for William Stewart, first officer on the ship Pegasus which visited on a sealing expedition. The original Māori name, Te Punga o Te Waka a Maui , puts Stewart Island/Raikura at the heart of Māori mythology. Literally the ‘Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe’, the island plays its part in the legend of Maui, who from his canoe the South Island, caught and raised the great fish, the North Island.
Our Pick of Stewart Island's Highlights
- Half Moon Bay Day Walks – from Oban in Half Moon Bay, sling on your walking shoes or boots and choose from a wide range of day walks (minutes to a whole day).
- Ulva Island – Enjoy some of the best bird watching in the world on this predator-free bird sanctuary.
- Rakiura Track – 3-day tramping (hiking) track for anyone with moderate fitness, suitable all year round and providing a good introduction to Stewart Island scenery.
- North West Circuit – 9-11 days, challenging hiking over 125 kilometres. Good fitness required.
- Southern Circuit Track – 4-6 days round trip covering 71.5 kilometres. A remote, challenging hiking track requiring a high level of fitness and good route-finding skills.
- Wilderness Tours – Get out into the back of beyond with locals-led Stewart Island tours.
View more information on Stewart Island day walks and tramping tracks.
Useful Stewart Island Links
To help plan your Stewart Island holiday choose from the main categories below: