Little Gem of the Month
Stewart Island is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of New Zealand's South Island. It has a permanent population of 381 people who are a proud and independent, but friendly too.
Over 85% of the island is National Park, and the majority of people come here for the hiking and birdwatching. The island has just 28km of road, but 280km of walking tracks suited to short waks, day walks and multi-day hikes. If you decide to walk the three-day Rakiura Track and use the two accommodation huts and three campsites on the track you will get the full experience of Stewart Island’s wild beauty. For something shorter, choose from a multitude of day hiking tracks that leave Halfmoon Bay, for example the 2-hour Fern Gully track or the 4-hour Horseshoe Point Track.
Stewart Island is largely untouched by humans which makes a perfect sanctuary for birds and wildlife. It is an absolute haven for brown kiwi or Tokoeka, which tend to be active day and night and numbers estimated around the 20,000 mark. You will also see the blue penguins and the rare yellow-eyed penguins waddle around amongst the rocks. Offshore on Ulva Island is a predator free bird sanctuary with dozens of native species, an absolute must do for native bird enthusiasts, as here you will find birds such as the tui, kaka,rifleman and fantail, you may also get to see the endangered saddleback.
In the Southern Sanctuary of the island you will find a particularly unique kiwi-spotting experience, and will find birds practically on your doorstep. The residents share their gardens with the native birds and in the summer their evenings resound with the melody of kākā and cheeky weka who strut around Oban township.