Discover the unique wildlife and coastal geography of Stewart Island between catamaran cruises, scenic walks and island conservancy visits
Relaxation | Wildlife
Dominated by Rakiura National Park, New Zealand’s ‘third island’ has been delightfully preserved. This three-day jaunt will get the best out of its untouched wildernesses, welcoming history and myriad wildlife; it’s among the best places to spot the country’s retiring icon – the kiwi bird.
After arriving via a scenic ferry and shuttle from Queenstown, you’ll stay at the aptly named Stewart Island Lodge for sweeping terrace views onto Halfmoon Bay. Its gardens have even hosted Prince Harry, who visited to appreciate the abundance of native birdlife, including the kaka parrot. You’ll also be just five minutes’ walk from the relaxed welcome of Oban’s village centre.
On day two, you’ll head out to explore on a tour that traces the rich Maori and settler history of what is the island’s only settlement before turning its attention to the island’s picturesque bays. Stopping for informative talks and photo stops, it’s a comprehensive introduction. The next day, you’ll go further in depth with a catamaran cruise that dips in and out of the hidden coves and unspoilt beaches that characterise the island’s spectacular coastline. Along the way, you’ll learn about the island’s importance to indigenous mythology and European whalers alike as you keep an eye out for fur seals and penguins. You’ll then disembark at Ulva Island for a naturist-guided tour. As a renowned wildlife sanctuary, it’s home to an abundance of rare plant and bird life, including inquisitive waka birds and, yes, the famous kiwi. There’s also the option of an evening tour, shedding some light on the kiwi’s nocturnal activities. Your ferry transfer will then bring you back to the mainland.
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