Holidays to Stewart Island, New Zealand

Stewart Island is a pretty special place. Enjoying a remote location at the bottom of the South Island, 30 kilometres across the Foveaux Strait, the island is home to only 400 people and just 28 kilometres of road. 85% of the island is National Park; meaning that it is a perfect habitat for kiwis, which outnumber humans!

Kiwis are the star here, with the highest concentration in New Zealand, but by no means the beginning and end of your bird watching experience. Stewart Island is a haven for Pelagic birds, including Albatross, Prion, Skua, Penguin, and Cormorant. You can also see spectacular land birds and wading birds, including the rare wading Dotterel with only 200 in existence worldwide. Kakapo also live on the island but in a completely protected reserve, away from people.

The best place to go birding is Ulva Island and we highly recommend you take a guided walk here. Walk through leafy primeval forest and keep your ears pricked for the melodic birdsong of the native Kaka parrot. If you’re lucky, you may spot a Kiwi tiptoeing through the undergrowth. You’ll also see beautiful beaches and picturesque coves. Alternatively, take to the water on a sea kayak, and circumnavigate the island’s coast.

For an in depth and more challenging adventure, you may wish to tackle the three day, 32 kilometre Rakiura Track Circuit. The Maori name for Stewart Island, Rakiura will take you through Maori land, native forest, varied coastal sections and historically significant sites. You can stay overnight in huts operated by the Department of Conservation, and you’ll see many of the island’s native birds and even some fur seals.

If you want to learn more about Stewart Island’s history, make your way to Millars Beach, a former Norwegian whaling community which was left abandoned. You can still see the Othello shipwreck, an old slipway and the ammunition store at this protected archaeological site.

At night, turn your eyes to the sky and enjoy a once in a lifetime chance to see the green and pink light displays of the Aurora Australis. Stewart Island has nearly no light pollution, and is after all, the Land of Glowing Skies.

Highlights

  • Visit Ulva Island, a protected sanctuary for rare birds

  • Go Kiwi spotting

  • Take a cruise to Paterson Inlet where you can see penguins

  • Search the skies for the Aurora Australis

Caroline
Senior New Zealand Travel Designer
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After a flying visit out to see friends many years ago, New Zealand has well and truly captured my heart and will forever be my spiritual home. I have since spent over a year living and working in various locations across the country, including the incredible and remote Stewart Island. The adventurous and charming locals, unbelievable vistas, world class wine and unique and fascinating wildlife keep me making the journey back out year after year. You really do have to see it for yourself!

Stewart Island trip ideas

Here are some trip ideas that include Stewart Island. All of our trip ideas shown below are examples, and we’ll amend, adapt or start from scratch, until we’ve created the perfect trip for you. See one you like, or have a trip in mind? Call us now to book: 020 3510 5777

Stewart Island