Learn about the cultural and natural history of Stewart Island/Rakiura before walking the Rakiura Track.

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

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