Little River

Image: 90 Seconds | ©

Introduction

Escape on an island adventure - relax and unwind in the peaceful surroundings with the bush, birds and beach at your side.

Highlights


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  • Listen out for the Rakiura tokoeka/kiwi calling or look for its footprints

  • Immerse yourself in history, from early Maori settlement sites to sawmilling relics.

  • Wander through beautiful native forests.

Explore on Google Street ViewWatch videos


2018/2019 bookings

Bookings are open for trips from 1 July 2018 - 30 June 2019. 

Track overview

32 km loop

Dog access

No dogs

About this track

Description

The circuit follows open coastline, crosses forested interior and meanders along the sheltered shores of Paterson Inlet. It passes sites of historical interest and introduces many of the common sea and forest birds of the island. Parts of it cross Maori land and access is courtesy of the owners.

Places to stay

There are two huts (Port Willam and North Arm) and three campsites (Maori Beach, Port William and North Arm) on the Rakiura Track. Note, campsites are not adjacent to the huts. Camping is only permitted at the designated campsites. When camping, you may not use hut facilities, but a cooking shelter, water supply and toilet are provided at each site.

Lee Bay to Port William Hut

Time: 3 - 4 hr
Distance: 8 km

Passing through the chain link sculpture at Lee Bay, the track follows the coast to Little River, which is crossed by a bridge. At low tide it is possible to walk around the beach and pick up the track at the point.

From there the track heads around Peter’s Point and on to Maori Beach. The creek at the southern end of Maori Beach can easily be waded at low tide, however at high tide, continue along the track until you come to a small foot bridge. A track leading to a rusting steam boiler, a relic from the sawmilling days, can be found just few minutes on from the turn-off to this bridge. Maori Beach campsite is situated in a grassy clearing close to the beach.

A larger bridge spans the tidal stream at the northern end of the beach and from here the track climbs a small hill and continues on to the intersection with the track to North Arm. Turn right and you will gradually drop down to the campsite above Magnetic Beach in Port William/Potirepo. Port William Hut is just a few minutes beyond the campsite.

Maori Beach Campsite

Port William Campsite

Port William Hut

Port William Hut to North Arm Hut

Time: 6 hr
Distance: 13 km

This section of track starts on the hill between Maori Beach and Port William. Trampers usually stay the night at Port William Hut and then backtrack the 40 minutes to the turn-off.

The track passes through a variety of vegetation including previously milled and virgin podocarp forest. Remnants of milling activity are seen along the track as it follows old tramlines for the logs being directed to their various destinations.

Log haulers on Google Street View

A campsite, with shelter and toilet, is sited above North Arm Hut. 

North Arm Campsite

North Arm Hut

North Arm Hut to Fern Gully car park

Time: 4 - 4 hr 30 min
Distance: 11 km

This section of track provides trampers access to the shores of Paterson Inlet.

The track sidles around the headland from North Arm to Sawdust Bay.It passes a sawmill site which was operated between 1914 and 1918. The track continues through rimu and kamahi dominated forest emerging at the sheltered bays of Kidney Fern Arm and Kaipipi Bay. At Kaipipi Bay two sawmills employed more than 100 people in the 1860s.

The track between Kaipipi and Halfmoon Bays follows the former Kaipipi Road, in its heyday the most used and best maintained on the island.

From Fern Gully carpark it is another 2 km along the road (turn left into Main Rd) to get back to Oban township.

Fees and bookings

Fees

Fees are charged per person, per night to stay in huts and campsites on the Rakiura Track. There are no fees to complete a day walk on the track or for entry into the Rakiura National Park.

Huts

1 October - 30 April:

  • Adult (18+ years): $24 per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

1 May - 30 September:

  • Adult (18+ years): $22 per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required
Campsites
  • Adult (18+ years): $6 per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required
Discounts

A 10% discount is available to members, staff and instructors of the following organisations, who also hold a valid 12 month Backcountry Hut Pass: NZ Mountain Safety Council; NZ Federated Mountain Clubs; NZ Deer Stalkers Association; NZ Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR); Scouts New Zealand; GirlGuiding NZ.

Discounts are not available online. To receive the discount we need to sight your membership card and Backcountry Hut Pass, so please visit a DOC visitor centre in person. If you get a discount you won't be charged a booking fee.

What to book

Before you start walking the Rakiura Track:

  • You need to book huts and/or campsites on the track
  • You can choose to book a shuttle between Oban and the start/end of the track - otherwise it's a 1 hour walk - or a water taxi to huts/campsites on the track

How to book


2018/2019 bookings

Bookings are open for trips from 1 July 2018 - 30 June 2019. 

  1. Decide whether you want to walk clockwise or anti-clockwise.
  2. Decide what huts or campsites you want to stay at. Consider:
  3. Decide the date you want to stay at each hut/campsite. Note the maximum stay at each hut/campsite is 2 nights.
  4. Check availability of huts and campsites on the dates you want to stay. If there is no space in one of the huts/campsites you want to stay at, consider:
    • Starting your walk on a different date
    • Changing the direction you walk in
  5. Book huts/campsites online or contact a DOC visitor centre for personal assistance. Note:
    • Bookings are required for children and/or youth even though it's free for them to stay.
    • If you're booking campsites, you'll need to know the number of people in your group as well as the number of tent sites required.
  6. Optional: Book transport services to/from the start/end of the track, or to huts/campsites on the track. This can be done unpon arrival on Stewart Island.

Terms and conditions

Read the booking terms and conditions (scroll to the bottom to find the Terms and Conditions link) for general information, age ranges, prices, discounts, penalty rates and the alterations and cancellations policy. Bookings not meeting the terms and conditions will be treated as invalid and cancelled.

Booking on behalf of others

Guided groups

To operate a commercial activity in an area managed by the Department of Conservation, you will need to apply for a concession (an official permit), in addition to any bookings you would need to make. Read more about concessions 

Booking on behalf of others

To make multiple bookings for facilities/services on behalf of customers, you must obtain permission or an agent agreement from the Department of Conservation. To do this, email: agents@doc.govt.nz 

Getting there

Getting to the start of the Rakiura Track

The Rakiura Track can be walked in either direction, starting from two locations:

  • The official entrance to Rakiura National Park at Lee Bay, 5 km from Oban. If walking from the DOC visitor centre in Oban, turn right and walk down Main Road. Turn left into Elgin Terrace, past the supermarket, and up the hill. Follow this main coastal road over a series of hills to Horseshoe Bay, then on to Lee Bay.
  • The Fern Gully car park, 2 km beyond the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre, which is located on Main Road in Oban.
Shuttles and water taxis

If you prefer not to walk from Oban, shuttles can be used for drop-offs at Lee Bay or water taxis can be used for access to Rakiura Track huts. Get information on the Stewart Island website.

Access to North Arm hut by boat is dependent on tides.

Getting to Stewart Island/Rakiura

To get to Oban, the only township on Stewart Island/Rakiura, you can take a 20-minute flight from Invercargill or a 1-hour ferry trip across Foveaux Strait from the southern port of Bluff. In Oban you’ll find accommodation, supplies, equipment hire and transport to and from the start of the track.

Know before you go

Stewart Island’s weather is very changeable and difficult to predict. Strong winds, hail and heavy rain can occur at any time of the year. You should come equipped for the very worst weather conditions. Remember, exposure and hypothermia can affect anyone and can kill.

What to take

The following gear is essential, no matter how warm it is on the day of departure. Remember to pack everything in your pack inside a plastic pack liner, especially your sleeping bag and clothes.

Clothing
  • At least two complete sets of clothing - one set to walk in and another dry set to change into, if need be, once you reach the hut. (It is not possible to dry clothes at the huts). NB: Cotton clothing such as jeans, T-shirts and sweatshirts are not suitable. Polypropylene, which is quick drying (but can be flammable) is recommended
  • Boots – comfortable and broken in
  • Mittens/gloves – wool or polypropylene
  • Woollen hat/balaclava and sunhat
  • Raincoat and over trousers – waterproof and windproof
  • Extra socks, underwear, shirt or lightweight jersey, depending on length of trip
Personal equipment
  • Food – lightweight and high in energy value. Take all you need for the entire trip - once you leave Halfmoon Bay there is no way of purchasing more
  • Sleeping bag – good quality down or hollofil
  • Portable stove and fuel
  • Cooking, drinking and eating utensils
  • Drink bottle
  • Pot scrub and tea towel
  • Matches/lighter, in waterproof container
  • Candles and torch (include spare batteries & bulb)
  • Toilet gear (include toilet paper)
  • First Aid kit (include insect repellent and sunscreen)
  • Survival kit (include survival blanket, whistle, paper and pencil, spare food)
  • Optional extras – camera, lightweight footwear for around the hut, ear plugs for communal bunkrooms (you will be sharing huts with up to 20 – 24 other trampers)

Safety is your responsibility

Plan properly for your trip and ensure your party has a capable, experienced leader.

Mobile coverage is restricted to the immediate township area, so you may wish to consider carrying a Personal Locator Beacon or Mountain Radio.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Fill in the hut books and include any change of plans.

Keep to the tracks. Off the tracks the valleys are steep-sided and densely bush-clad.

If you become lost find shelter, stay calm and wait for searchers to arrive.

Exposed netting on the track

Be careful where netting is exposed and on wooden steps, these sections maybe slippery.

What to take

Equipment, clothing and food you need to take.
Take the right equipment, clothing and food with you

Huts on the Rakiura Track don't have gas cooking facilities, lighting or toilet paper. Remember to take a portable stove and fuel, candles and toilet paper with you.

Personal equipment

  • Backpack (40–60 litre size for multi-day hiking)
  • Waterproof/plastic pack liner
  • Sleeping bag (3–4 season)
  • First aid kit (including insect repellent, sunscreen, blisterkit, personal medication e.g. antihistamine for allergy towasp stings)
  • Survival kit (survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, highenergy snack food)
  • Safety equipment relevant to the track and time of year (e.g. map, compass)
  • Drink bottle (1-2 litre capacity)
  • Eating and cooking utensils (knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup,pot/pan/billy, cleaning kit, tea towel)
  • Matches or lighter in waterproof container
  • Toiletries
  • Torch/flashlight and spare batteries
  • Rubbish bag
  • Tickets and ID
  • Portable stove and fuel
  • Candles
  • Toilet paper
  • Visit the Kiwi way – never miss an opportunity to use a loo and be prepared with a back-up toilet option 
If you're camping...
  • Tent
  • Sleeping mat

Optional

  • Camera
  • Ear plugs for communual bunkrooms

Clothing

  • For multi-day walking you'll need at least one set of clothes to walk in and another dry set to change into at night. Walking boots or firm footwear (should be comfortable and well broken in)
  • Socks (wool or polypropylene)
  • Shorts (quick dry material)
  • Shirt (wool or polypropylene)
  • Under layers, top and bottom (wool or polypropylene)
  • Mid-layers (wool or polar fleece)
  • Raincoat (waterproof, windproof with hood)
  • Overtrousers (wind and water proof)
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Sunhat and sunglasses
  • Extra socks, underwear, shirt/lightweight jersey
Optional
  • Gaiters
  • Lightweight shoes for inside the huts

Food

You can't buy food on the track.

Bring food that is lightweight, fast cooking and high in energy value. For example:

  • Breakfast: cereal/porridge/oats, firm bread, honeyor other spreads
  • Lunch: cracker biscuits, cheese, salami, jam/jelly, fruit
  • Dinner: instant soup, pasta or rice, dried vegetables or fruit, cheese or dehydrated (freeze-dried) meals.

You'll also need water, snacks, biscuits, muesli bars, tea or coffee, powdered fruit drinks and emergency food in case of any delays on the track.

Download a checklist 

Nature and history

Kaka.
Kaka - our wonderful, boisterous bush parrot

Diverse native birdsong, lush forest, relics of bygone days, beaches and rugged coastlines are all features of this year-round Great Walk.

Port William

Under the blue gums, Port William.
Under the blue gums, all that remains of the Shetland Islanders' settlement at Port William

Maori established hunting camps or kaika at many coastal sites, including Port William/Potirepo, reached by outrigger canoe. Port William/Potirepo was the site of the early Maori settlement of Pa Whakataka.

During the 1800s its sheltered harbour was used by sealers and later as a whaling base. Gold prospecting was unsuccessful but the discovery of an oyster bed proved more lucrative. A government subsidised settlement by Shetland Islanders lasted only a short time, the bay’s gum trees the only remains of their presence.

Maori Beach 

Whaling Station, Price's Inlet, Paterson Inlet.
Whaling Station at Price's Inlet,
Paterson Inlet/Whaka a te Wera

In the early 1900s, timber milling developed at Maori Beach which, by 1920, had two sawmills and a school. From the track, you’ll be able to see remains of the sawmilling enterprise which lasted here until 1931.

Paterson Inlet

The sheltered waters of Paterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera were used early in the 19th century by whaling boats. However, the first large scale industry here was in timber, beginning in 1861 with the opening of sawmills at Kaipipi.

In the 1920s and 1930s the Norwegian Whaling Company ran a repair base in Prices Inlet where chaser boats were serviced in preparation for the Antarctic summer.

The “link track”

First established in the 1980s, the walking track linking Port William with Paterson Inlet has been improved and upgraded to take walkers past relics of the timber milling days.

Southern New Zealand dotterel.
Southern New Zealand dotterel

Diverse forest

The Rakiura Track takes walkers through mainly rimu and kamahi forest with a rich diversity of tree ferns, ground ferns and perching orchids. Rata is more common at higher altitudes.

A wonderland for bird watching

Along the coast, keen bird watchers should look out for mutton birds/tïtï (sooty shearwaters), shags/kawau, Buller’s mollymawks/toroa, cape pigeons/titore and little blue penguins/korora.

In the forest, walkers may see and hear bellbirds/korimako, tui, fantails/pïwakawaka, parakeets/kakariki, shining cuckoos/pipiwharauroa and wood pigeons/keruru, grey warblers/riroriro, kaka and tomtits/miromiro.

The tidal flats of Paterson Inlet host a variety of wading birds including the New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu, oyster catchers/torea, herons/matuku moana and godwits/kuaka.

Paterson Inlet.
Paterson Inlet


Aligning the Rakiura Track to pass long hidden historic relics, has brought a new dimension to Stewart Island's Great Walk - Conservation blog post 25 June 2013

Contacts

Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 219 0009
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   stewartisland@doc.govt.nz
Address:   15 Main Road
Oban
Postal Address:   PO Box 3
Rakiura/Stewart Island 9846
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