10 Things To Do When Escaping To Stewart Island, NZ

things to do in stewart island nz
| 4 min read

New Zealand’s third largest landmass is Stewart Island, but it also has an extremely tiny population of only 381 people that live predominantly in the eastern part of the island, within the Oban settlement. Fishing is the area’s main industry, but tourism is growing in prominence as more people visit the island. The island experiences plenty of rainfall but is also quite warm. Therefore, it’s a very green island with a plethora of flora, fauna, and animals that thrive in this climate. Much of the island is unspoiled due to its small human population. Tourists who enjoy visiting regions that seem untouched by modernity will absolutely love Stewart Island!

1. Immerse yourself in nature at Ulva Island

Ulva Island

Posted by Beaks & Feathers on Sunday, 18 October 2015

Ulva Island is a popular choice for many visitors due to its unspoiled beauty. It’s an incredibly clean and green environment, with plenty of vegetation and bird life. You may even be lucky enough to spot a kiwi! You can choose to hire a guide or explore the area yourself, but give yourself at least two hours to see as much as possible.

Ulva Island

Address: Stewart Island, New Zealand

Website: Ulva Island via Department of Conservation

2. Take a boat trip with the Stewart Island Ferry

This is the catamaran which provides transport from ant to Stewart island. It is so fast and when you are sitting in the front, It is like on a roller-coaster.

Posted by Roman Hodain on Sunday, 14 June 2009

There’s no better way to travel to Stewart Island, the Foveaux Strait, and surrounding islands then with Stewart Island’s catamaran service. The on board staff is friendly and helpful, providing much information about the region’s wildlife and important landmarks. This service also offers passengers complimentary tea and coffee. The catamaran departs from Bluff coast where there’s ample free parking near the terminal. A return trip is around 180 NZD (125 USD) per adult, which is great value for money for such an experience.

Stewart Island Experience

Address: Stewart Island Visitor Terminal, Main Wharf, Stewart Island 9846, New Zealand

Website: Stewart Island Experience

3. Watch a cultural movie at the Bunkhouse Theatre

Poi E: The Story of Our Song is screening tonight at 7.30pm. "...the film is joyful, artistic, and most importantly; distinctly Kiwi." NZ Herald Last NZ Independent Film for the season!

Posted by Stewart Island Bunkhouse Theatre on Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Don’t allow Stewart Island’s lack of a large population convince you that there’s nothing interesting taking place. In fact, this island has its own theatre that features a locally produced film about its inhabitants, history, and local economy. Visit the cozy Bunkhouse Theatre to watch an interesting film that’s narrated by the resident dog!

Bunkhouse Theatre

Address: 10 Main Road, Stewart Island 9846, New Zealand

Facebook: Stewart Island Bunkhouse Theatre

4. Tour the island with Village and Bay Cultural Tours

Oban Stewart Island
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Khalaan used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Stewart Island’s local settlement, Oban, offers visitors plenty of stunning sights, interesting landmarks, and surrounding bays to discover. Take one of the Village and Bay tours on a modern mini-bus that will shuttle you around destinations such as the Rakiura National Park, Lee Bay, and Horseshoe Bay. The entire tour lasts around an hour-and-a-half and costs approximately 60 NZD (42 USD) per adult.

Village and Bay Cultural Tours

Address: Oban Visitor Centre, Elgin Terrace, Stewart Island 9846, New Zealand

Website: Stewart Island Experience

5. Hike on the Rakiura Track

The view at the Port William campsite, one of the many great stops on Stewart Island's Rakiura Track

Posted by Stewart Island Experience on Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Without any doubt, Stewart Island is a lavish landmass with plenty of gorgeous beaches, stunning birdlife, and bountiful bushes. It would be a wasted opportunity to visit without getting close and personal with the island’s rich natural beauty. Experience it all by hiking on the Rakiura Track, which is a 32-kilometer (20 mile) trek through luscious forests and Maori settlements that takes three days to complete.

Rakiura Track

Address: Lee Bay Road, Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island, New Zealand

Website: Rakiura Track via Department of Conservation

6. Watch the island’s birds with Nature and Wildlife Tours

Guided group taking a break on a scenic beach on Ulva Island.

Posted by Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience - Stewart Island on Thursday, 19 November 2015

Do you enjoy bird watching when visiting various destinations? Then, the Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience might just be what you’re looking for! This tour offers visitors walks through Steward and Ulva Islands that focus predominantly on the natural habitat of wildlife and birds. Trips are varied and visitors can expect to travel through wetlands, forests, wild beaches, and dunes. The tour guides are on hand to provide travelers with important information about the areas they visit.

Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience

Address: 14 Main Rd, Oban, Stewart Island 9846, New Zealand

Website: Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience

7. Navigate the waters of the island with a kayak tour

Posted by Rakiura Kayaks on Saturday, 14 May 2011

Rakiura Kayaks is a company that specializes in kayaking in the region. They offer kayak tours around Stewart Island complete with a friendly guide on hand. Therefore, those who don’t have much experience with kayaking are in good hands. There are various tours available at different price points, with a guided half-day tour costing 80 NZD (55 USD) and the full-day tour priced at 115 NZD (80 USD) per person.

Rakiura Kayaks

Address: Liz Cave & Heath Allen, Stewart Island 9846, New Zealand

Website: Rakiura Kayaks

8. Catch fish with fishing charters and tours

Feeding and photographing albatross and giant petrels on a birding trip on a recent crisp autumn morning

Posted by Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi - Stewart Island on Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi service offers a comprehensive range of normal and fishing tours. A typical guided tour to Ulva Island costs 320 NZD (222 USD) per adult and 180 NZD (125 USD) per child, while a fishing tour costs 135 NZD (94 USD) per adult and 95 NZD (66 USD) per child. The fishing tours are great as visitors are provided with a rod and reel and they may be lucky enough to catch the region’s Blue Cod!

Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi

Address: 10 Main Rd., Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island 9846, New Zealand

Website: Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi

9. Get ecological with Stewart Island Water Taxi & Eco Guiding

Posted by Stewart Island Water Taxi & Eco Guiding on Thursday, 21 July 2016

Eco-tourists and treasure hunters are in for a treat! The Stewart Island Water Taxi & Eco Guiding offers travelers a vast range of touring services that are aimed at the environmentally conscious. They offer coast-to-coast packages, visits to the Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary, and trips to the Rakiura National Park. There’s plenty of opportunities for visitors to learn about natural hot spots and take photographs.

Stewart Island Water Taxi & Eco Guiding

Address: 44 Elgin Terrace, Oban 9818, New Zealand

Website: Stewart Island Water Taxi & Eco Guiding

10. Take a guided tour of Ulva’s Bird Sanctuary

Lovely photo of a Morepork taken by Dot, one of the summer volunteers on Ulva Island.

Posted by Ulva's Guided Walks on Saturday, 1 April 2017

Ulva’s Guided Walks is one of the original bird watching services on the island. Their walking tours are diverse, which include guided tours of Ulva Island, Ulva’s Bird Sanctuary, Port William, and bird and kiwi watching. They have extensive knowledge of the birdlife in the region and will help visitors spot rare birds.

Ulva’s Guided Walks

Address: Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary, Oban, Stewart Island, New Zealand

Website: Ulva’s Guided Walks

Stewart Island is a sanctuary for nature lovers

It’s not often that one comes across a destination that’s unspoiled and rich in natural diversity like Stewart Island. The island may be small, but that’s part of its charm and make it easy to get from one point to another. Furthermore, many of the tours offer good value for money that should satisfy even budget conscious travelers.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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