Evening light on Stewart Island
PHOTO: Vincent Zintzen © 

Introduction

To the south of New Zealand's South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura is a one-hour ferry ride from Bluff or 20 minutes by plane from Invercargill.

Highlights

Stewart Island is New Zealand’s third largest island and home to Rakiura National Park.

The island’s only settlement, in Halfmoon Bay, has a general store, postal agency, DOC Visitor Centre and a range of accommodation options. There one ATM on the island, which is only accessible during shop hours and does not accept foreign credit cards. Most operators accept Eftpos, Visa and Mastercard.

Place overview

Activities

  • Camping
  • Hunting
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Walking and tramping

In this section

Find things to do Stewart Island/Rakiura

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About track difficulties

Bird and wildlife watching

To minimise disturbance to kiwi:

  • keep at least 5 metres away from kiwi and do not follow them
  • do not handle kiwi – this will distress them and can spread disease
  • when using a torch, screen the light with your hand or use a red light – kiwi can only tolerate low light levels
  • be as quiet as possible and keep to the track
  • do not use flash photography
  • report insensitive behavior to DOC.

Kayaking

Ulva Island

You can land at any of Ulva Island’s bays and enjoy the plant and birdlife. Ulva Island is special because it's predator-free – be aware of stowaways.

There is a day shelter at the eastern beach on Sydney Cove, with information on the marine reserve and the mātaitai reserve.

Camping in not permitted at any time.

Glory Cove

You're welcome to visit the Glory Cove Scenic Reserve and Ocean Beach during the day, however access between 6 pm and 6 am is restricted to permit holders only.

Norwegian whalers base

Visit the historic Norwegian whalers’ base in Prices Inlet. On-site interpretation of the whaling era is provided.

Camping is not permitted – this area is privately owned.

River safety / VHF marine radio

Follow river safety rules and the regulations.

Water taxis run once a day on the high tide up the river – be aware of them and keep to the sides of the river where possible. They will radio entrance and exit times to the radio operator on Marine radio channel 65 – if you have a radio you are advised to do the same.

It is strongly recommended that you take a Marine VHF radio with you – mobile phone coverage is limited to the main village area. Channels used are:

65 – Stewart Island Maritime Radio
Operator: Maureen Jones
Phone: +64 3 219 1242 or +64 27 219 059 061

Bluff Maritime Radio
Operator: Meri Leask
Phone: +64 3 212 7281

Weather forecasts

Weather forecasts are broadcast daily:

  • Channel 65: 9.25 am and 5.25 pm
  • Channel 71: 7.25 am, 10.30 am, 1.30 pm and 5.30 pm (also on channels 68 and 69)

Boating safey code

Get familiar with New Zealand’s Boating Safety Code

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    About this place

    Know before you go

    Drinking water

    While there have been no reports of giardia on Stewart Island, we recommend treating all water collected from streams, or filling your water containers before leaving huts.

    Help keep our water free from diseases and our land unspoilt by always using toilets where provided. If there is no toilet, find a secluded place well away from water and walking tracks, dig a hole and bury all human waste.

    Fish and shellfish

    Read Te Whaka a Te Wera Mātaitai Reserve bylaws and fisheries regulations (collect from the DOC Stewart Island Visitor Centre), and the Ulva Island – Te Wharawhara Marine Reserve brochure (PDF, 2,004K). Ensure you fish in areas permitted. Take only the amount of seafood you need for the day.

    Weather

    Be prepared for everything – wind, rain, sun and sleet.

    Stewart Island weather is unpredictable and strong winds can develop at short notice. Be prepared to change your plans and seek shelter. Average temperatures are 15˚C in summer and 9˚C in winter. Average annual rainfall is 1,600 mm.

    Seek up to date weather advice from DOC or see the Foveaux coastal forecast or Southland rural forecast on the Metservice website.

    Deer hunters

    Be aware of deer hunters, who are active all year-round on Stewart Island.

    A permit is needed to hunt on Stewart Island – you can obtain one from the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre or online. See Stewart Island hunting

    Contacts

    Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 3 219 0009
    Address:   15 Main Road
    Stewart Island
    Email:   stewartisland@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
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