Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island located around thirty kms south of the South Island of New Zealand and being smaller than both the North Island and South Island does not get as much attention from tourists, Stewart Island is also referred to as Rakiura which has significance for local Maori.
Stewart Island covers an area around 1700 square kilometers and has a climate similar to many parts of the coastal South Island but the land is very exposed and open to the ocean driven winds which can lash the environment on Stewart Island.
Just because Stewart Island is small this does not mean there is nothing to see or do on the island in fact the opposite is true there are many activities located around the island to keep visitors busy more so if you are an outdoor or love nature type of person.
The biggest attraction on Stewart Island is likely the fantastic walks available and the most notable is the Rakiura Track listed as one one the Nine Great Walks of New Zealand, the Rakiura Track is around thirty two kms long and follows a diverse environment of coastal track, mudflats, stunning beaches and steep bush covered hills, the walk is multiday with two DOC huts available on the track.
The Rakiura museum is a great attraction to visit while on Stewart Island, the museum is a testament to early life on the island with local Maori exhibits and stories from the early settler days, there is also a large nautical theme with the museum as sailing ships played a large place in the local community and a vital life line to the main island.
Stewart Island is also a fantastic dive location there are many species found around the island that are not usually found this far south of the main island, the warm current from the Great Barrier Reef flows around the island and brings a great diversity of marine life to the islands normally cold climate.
Stewart Island boasts a large marine reserve located at Paterson Inlet the reserve was established in 2004 and covers an area around 1080 hectares, the marine reserve is a great place to dive or snorkel in the warmer summer months with a great diversity of marine life to be found inside the protected inlet.
Other fantastic activities on Stewart Island include island hopping there are several small islands around the main island to explore and a vast expanse of secluded beaches and bays to explore as well, there are several charter boats operating from the island so book in a tour while your there and get out on the water for a memory you will not forget.
There are no shortage of accommodation options on the island with backpackers, beach houses and loges scattered around the island you can always find some where great to relax and take in the fantastic views and experience life on Stewart Island.
There are two options for transport from the mainland to Stewart Island, the first option is by ferry which departs at Bluff at the very bottom of New Zealand's South Island, the second option is to fly in by light plane which departs from Invercargill, by ferry the ride could be rough depending on sea conditions, and by plane you will get a fantastic view of the coast and Stewart Island from the air.