Stewart Island and the Rakiura Great Walk

Stewart Island – Oban as we flew in
Flying into Stewart Island

Recently we headed to Stewart Island to get another dose of nature and we certainly achieved that!

We flew in from Invercargill with beautiful weather and scenery along the way.

First thing you notice when you arrive is the large amount of native bush that the island holds. Oban, is the only small settlement there, with a few shops and about 400 permanent residents dotted around the place.

The large amount of trees, plants and shrubs means it’s home to a huge amount of birdlife. The birds act differently here to the mainland. They fly in groups/flocks. So when we opened our door to the deck where we were staying we didn’t just see one or two Kereru (as you might see in the North island if you’re lucky) we saw groups of over a dozen flying overhead or countless ones moving from tree to tree. Tui’s were a given, but then there were also Kaka – large beautiful parrots that would move around in pairs.

Kereru – I named Humpty and Dumpty – just chilling

Walk to Ackers Point

On our first day after visiting the friendly DOC shop (filled with maps and lots of walks etc.) we decided to head out to Ackers Point along the coast to the headland.

The scenery was beautiful and two Kaka birds decided to come down and see what we were up to. One sat on a road post directly in front of us and the other in a tree nearby, we were lucky that they hung around long enough for us to get our cameras out. They seemed just as interested in us as we were of them!

Walk from Oban out to Ackers Point
Kaka on a roadpost directly in front of us
Kaka trying to sit on a branch – amazing colours

On the way out to Ackers Point there was an old house still standing from Lewis Acker from about 1831-1850, that is sitting looking out at Harolds Bay – I can understand why he settled here, looking at that view!

Lewis Ackers house
Harolds Bay – view from Lewis Ackers house

Golden Bay and Observation Rock

Another beautiful walk was out to Wohlers Monument and back via Golden Bay. One of the best views of Golden Bay is from Observation Rock with a view out to Ulva Island too!

Golden Bay

Rakiura Great Walk

This was a 3 day, 2 night great walk and our fourth Great Walk in two years (I know I’m behind in blog posts). This time around we camped because there was potential for bedbugs in the huts which we wanted to avoid. Camping proved to be a great choice, despite the extra weight my partner had to carry.

Note: Photos are from my iPhone (wasn’t going to carry an SLR!) and kilometres are from my Garmin Venu 2s watch.

Lee Bay – starting point for the Great Walk
Quote on the ground to represent the incredible place Stewart Island is
Anchor chain – other end is at Bluff on the mainland

Day one Rakiura 8.6km

We got a taxi to the start, which we were pleased with rather than walking the road to Lee Bay from Oban, it wasn’t a scenic walk and was unnecessary.

Start of Rakiura Great Walk
Beaches on day 1
Beaches on day 1

Lee Bay to Maori Beach was very scenic and coastal, we had yummy fresh wraps for lunch on the beach. We’ve learnt this time around to make wraps with fresh vegetables for our lunches so we enjoy them more and get more energy. I’ve also learnt to take my shoes and potentially socks off during breaks to help keep my feet in a good condition for the rest of the day.

Walking to Maori Beach – Day 1
Old sawmilling at Maori Beach
Lunch spot – Maori Beach
Heading inland from Maori Beach

Maori Beach to Port William

This was a mix of costal and inland walking with some hills, but we were spoilt when we arrived at our campsite on Magnetic Beach in Port William. It was incredible and we had the afternoon to ourselves (I had a quick dip in the water) before one other couple arrived to camp. Very quiet and serene.

Inland forest Day 1 towards Port William
Port William campsite – Magnetic Beach
View of our campsite – Magnetic Beach
Magnetic Beach – over to Port William Hut
Magnetic Beach walks
Farewell to the beautiful Magnetic Beach, morning of Day 2

Day two Rakiura 13.24km

This was a bit of a harder day, walking up and down through mud, but because we were in a dry spell on Stewart Island the mud wasn’t actually too bad!

Path on day 2
Rivers on Day 2
Rivers – Day 2
Bit of mud on Day 2

We ended up at North Arm campsite with only one other camping couple again. That night around 11:30pm we heard incredible screaming outside our tent from a female kiwi. I’ve never heard that noise before, it was very unique and unforgettable!

The next morning we also spotted a doe in the bush near the campsite munching away. Birds were a given throughout our walks and a few rivers.

Campsite – North Arm (Kiwi spot)
The Doc campsites are well catered, with shelters and plenty of water + a drop toilet

Day three Rakiura 13.22km

This was the day out. Few minor hills and mud, but not bad. It was a mix of costal and inland. We saw a group of Kakariki birds just before lunch flying around an inlet area which was our first sighting of a big group of them.

Beaches Day 3

Lunch was a little grass patch on the water at Kaipipi Bay. Very quiet and beautiful, we’d made our veggie wraps that morning with cheese which were pretty darn tasty as our last hiking meal.

Onwards we headed out down the tree lined path, and finished by walking the road back to Oban.

Track on Day 3 heading out

Stopping in at the 4 Square (mini supermarket) we had the shock again of what it was like to be back around people and out of nature (even though Oban is basically as close to nature as a town gets).

Over the next few days we did a few more walks around the island and even saw a Kiwi in the bush at night! It was just down a path that came off the football field in Oban. We learnt that our previous attempts in various places were far too early at night, this was at about 11pm.

To finish off our trip we visited Ulva Island, which deserves a blog post of its own it was so magical – so stay tuned!

If you’re interest in the Rakiura track, check out DOC’s website