Trek Notes - New Zealand

Stewart Island

“Picture yourself in the Southern most Island of New Zealand wandering under a stadium of stars to try your luck at native kiwi spotting”.


Stewart Island offers the best chance most people will ever have to see New Zealand's national bird, the Kiwi, in its natural environment.Rest assured not many New Zealanders can make that claim. Many centuries ago Maori came bycanoe to the island to harvest shellfish and mutton birds, traditions still carried out today. They named the island Rakiura -'Glowing Skies'.  

Starting in Riverton travel by fishing boat or light plane to Mason Bay on the West Coast of Stewart Island. Over the next four days you will walk, water taxi and sea kayak your way across the Island to Halfmoon Bay. Here you have a chance to meet a few of the locals before completing the journey back to Riverton by ferry and shuttle.


DAY 1 
Meet the team at the Riverton Rock and get the chance to meet your guide. Settle in for a meal featuring local fare and discuss the days ahead. Retire to your bed for a good nights sleep.  

From Riverton travel by fishing boat or plane to Mason Bay on the west coast of Stewart Island. Along the way you pass Codfish Island, an important sanctuary for the Kakapo, a large flightless parrot. Landing close to The Gutter, the site of a recent archaeological dig that uncovered parts of an ancient Maori canoe or Waka, we take time out to settle in to Island time. You walk for about three hours (11km) along the beach to the original Mason Bay homestead, home for the night. This evening we will see if we can spot one of the local residents, a Kiwi!

An easy four hour walk (14km) across the Island to Freshwater Landing passing old farm machinery testimony to an era past. Scrub covered sand dunes, head high tussock and manuka house many native birds, including kiwi’s, robins and parakeets. Along the way search for the signs of these local inhabitants. At Freshwater you meet your water taxi for a spectacular ride down Freshwater River and across Patterson Inlet to Halfmoon Bay. Tonight you will stay in a classic Stewart Island “crib”.  

This morning you will sea kayak along the coast of Paterson Inlet. About 4 hours exploring and paddling later we make landfall and join the Rakiura Track. From here it is about 3 hours easy walk back to Halfmoon Bay. Through rimu and kamahi forest to Kaipipi Bay site of two busy sawmills in the 1860’s then joining the old Kaipipi Road.  

Take the morning to explore Halfmoon Bay with a short walk or visit to the gumboot theatre. In the afternoon jump on the ferry to Bluff and the completion of your journey, back to The Riverton Rock for the night. Time to share a few tales with new found friends and relax in the warm glow of your journey.

The Stewart Island tour is a five night / four day adventure, including fishing boat across Foveaux Strait (rough weather alternative is a light plane), water taxi, sea kayak, ferry to Bluff,five nights accommodation, meals, transfers and guiding.

Accommodation is based on share twin with the first and last night at The Riverton Rock Guesthouse. At Mason Bay we stay in the historic Island Hill Homestead. Warm, comfortable, but “back country”. In Halfmoon Bay stay in a “crib” or private holiday home.

From November to April there are regular scheduled departures. Other departures are available on request with a minimum of three people and yes trips do operate during the winter. It is actually a nice time to be on the Island.  

Combined with the best local operators in a carefully designed itinerary you are ensured that you will have an enjoyable and educational journey in the wilderness. Guides are dedicated to your safety and satisfaction.  

All camping, cooking and kayaking equipment and maps are provided. You will need to bring your own sleeping bag, pack, personal and hiking gear. Packs, sleeping bags and wet weather gear are available for hire if required.  

 A reasonable level of fitness is required. The trails are well formed and relatively flat. On average we walk 3 – 4 hours a day or 10 – 14 km. The sea kayaking is in sheltered waters and no previous experience is required.

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