One of the New Zealand’s less ventured places, Stewart Island is located at the end of South Island, and is often referred to as the country’s third island. With a population of around 400 and 80% of the land being national park, the island is a natural paradise. From exploring its dense forests, wetlands, and beaches to spotting rare wildlife like Kiwi and Blue Penguin, there’s so much to do here.
If visiting New Zealand is in your bucket list, you must include Stewart Island in your itinerary. Here is a list of must do things on this serene island.
Hike the Rakiura Track
Part of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Rakiura Track is a 36 km long adventurous hike through the Rakiura National Park. This 3 day trek is a great way to explore the raw wilderness of the island as your walk the paths meandering through jungles, hills, and beaches. There are several entry points and circuits that you can choose from in order to wander in the national park. Along with the natural wonders of the island, you will get to see ancient ruins.
Birdwatching on Ulva Island
Ulva Island is a small untouched island, just a 5 minute ferry ride from Golden Bay. Thriving with exotic birdlife, the island is pest-free and is well connected with walking trails that will take you through unspoilt forests. When on the island, you will get a chance to see some of the critically endangered bird species. These species include Parakeets, Stewart Island Saddlebacks, Albatross, Steward Island Wekas, Stewart Island Robins, Kiwis, Blue Penguins, and more.
Stargaze and Watch Aurora Australis
In local Maori language, the Stewart Island is known as Rakiura, which translates to “Glowing Skies”. The island is a perfect spot for stargazing with one of the clearest skies in New Zealand. It is also a perfect spot to catch a glimpse of the phenomenal Southern Lights or Aurora Australis as the skies light up with a pinkish and greenish hue. The best time to watch the Southern Lights here is between the months of March and September.
Loosen up on Bathing Beach
Stewart Island is home to some of the most wondrous beaches in the country. One of such beaches where you should head to is the Bathing Beach. It is counted among those dreamy beach destinations with crystal clear waters and golden sands, is surrounded by nature, and remains uncrowded. It is sheltered by natural surroundings making it ideal for a relaxed bath. A 15-minute walk from Oban over the cliffs will lead you to this paradise.
Another exciting thing to do when in Stewart Island is to go diving. You can opt for scuba diving across various spots around the island to explore the diverse marine life. One of the best spots for diving is Paterson Inlet which was declared a marine reserve not too long ago. If you are looking for more adventure, you can go diving along Great White Sharks. From December through June, you can enjoy this breathtaking experience in a completely safe shark cage.