Stewart Island (officially Rakiura) is located approx 30 mk (19 ml) south of the New Zealand (South Island).
- The island has a total area of 1746 km2 (674 ml2), highest elevation point (Mount Anglem) 979 m (3212 ft) and population around 400. Most of the isle's permanent residents (approx 80%) live in Oban - the only settlement located on the eastern coast.
- The town of Oban is on Halfmoon Bay and has flight connections with Invercargill (NZ's westernmost city) and a ferry connection to Bluff.
- The town was named after Oban (Scotland), which name means The Little Bay). After the opening in 2002 of the Rakiura National Park (covering approx 85% of the island's area), Oban enjoys a steady increase in commerce and tourism, plus some government funding.
- Stewart Island was discovered in 1770 by Captain James Cook (1728-1779). He named it South Cape as he thought it was part of South Island. Subsequently, the island was named in honor of William W. Stewart (first officer on the Pegasus ship) who in 1809 charted and determined the isle's northern points proving that it was an island. In 1841, the isle was named New Leinster. For most of the 20th century it was known as "Stewart Island".
- Port Pegasus is at Stewart Island's southern tip. The settlement was inhabited between 1890s-1950s by a small fishing community. Port Pegasus is currently uninhabited, but frequently visited by tourists and divers, as well as by hunters and fishermen. Port Pegasus is accessible only by boat (ship) or by foot via a hiking trail from Oban.
- Stewart Island has many bird species which are able to survive and even thrive due to the relative absence of introduced predator animals (feral cats. rats, ferrets, stoats, weasels). The birds that can be seen on the isle are albatrosses, wekas, kakas, flightless kiwis, silvereyes, fantails, kererus. The island is also famous for its colony of the endangered yellow-eyed penguins. Offshore Muttonbird Islands there are large colonies of sooty shearwaters. Codfish Island has a small number of kakapos (flightless parrots) which are very close to extinction.
There are 3 large sized and many small isles around the coast:
- Ruapuke Island is located approx 32 km (20 ml) northeast of Oban
- Codfish Island is close to the northwest coast
- Big South Cape Island is located off the Stewart's southwestern tip.
- Muttonbird Islands is a small group located between Stewart and Ruapuke and around Big South Cape. Three other small but popular islands are named Bench, Native, Ulva, Pearl, Anchorage, and Noble. Further offshore (to the southwest) are located Snares islands and some smaller islets.
Rakiura is the NZ's 14th (and newest) national park, opened in March 2002. The protected area is 1570 km2 (610 ml2) or about 85% of the island. The reserve area do not include Oban, some of the roads and privately owned or Maori (indigenous Polynesian people) owned lands. Rajura includes former nature and scenic reserves, plus the State Forest.
The circular Rakiura Track (tramping track / walking trail) follows the coastline for a large part of its length (32 km / 20 ml) and is within the park. The track passes inlets, bays and mudflats, and in its mid section crosses steep hills covered in dense forest. Large sections of the track are well-maintained and gravelled. Walking is of medium difficulty and offers the unique opportunity for viewing kiwi birds (southern brown kiwis) in the wild. Some of the Rakiura's coasts are breeding areas for yellow-eyed penguins.
Rakiura Track has two huts - at Port William and North Arm - both used by hikers to sleep overnight. The track also has camping sites - at Maori Beach, North Arm and Port William. The huts and camping sites are with toilets and have water supply. There are no no toilet paper and cooking facilities. Camping supplies can be purchased in Oban. The huts are equipped with bunks and mattresses, and supplied with firewood (cutting firewood is forbidden). Huts and camping sites must be pre-booked in Oban.
Stewart Island cruise terminal
Cruise ships to Stewart Island NZ dock (anchor) at Oban - port town on the eastern coast.
Stewart Island tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
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- Rakiura Track
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