Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island, situated 30 kilometres south of the South Island, across the Foveaux Straight. In the Maori language, it’s known as Rakiura which means ‘the land of glowing skies’. You’ll get an inkling why when you see the aurora australis which often appears in these southern skies.
Over 85% of the island is National Park, and most people come here for the hiking. Walk the three-day Rakiura Track and you will get the full experience of Stewart Island’s wild beauty. Offshore on Ulva Island, you’ll find a predator free bird sanctuary with rare native birds. It's the only place in New Zealand where you can readily see a kiwi in its natural habitat.
The 400 or so Stewart Islanders are a proud and very independent bunch. For them, New Zealanders are people who live on the other side of Fouveaux Strait. But they’re friendly. There’s only one settlement of any size on the island – Halfmoon Bay, sometimes called Oban. It offers a variety of accommodation and if you’re walking the tracks, the Department of Conservation provides huts for overnight hikes.
- Stewart Island can be reached by ferry from Bluff, and Ulva Island is accessible by water taxi.