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A three-minute guide to Stewart Island New Zealand

Want to go somewhere a little different on your New Zealand journey? Here’s all you need to know about Stewart Island New Zealand.

Scenic view over the ocean from Stewart Island

The wilderness of Stewart Island New Zealand is the last point of civilisation before reaching the vast cold wilderness of Antarctica. Home to an abundance of native wildlife and over 280 kilometres of walking tracks we think it's well worth your time.

What

Stewart Island is a moderately sized atoll just 30 kilometres off the South Island with 85 percent covered by National Park. The island is a haven for brown kiwi and over 20,000 of these birds reside in the overland forests. Populated by only 400 people there is one main settlement — Halfmoon Bay — and a vast network of golden sand beaches, densely forested hills and breathtaking landscapes.

Much of the island is as it was before human habitation, and doing one of the many overland hikes gives a unique insight into New Zealand before civilisation. Other rare native birds can be spotted on the island, due to the lack of predators. You’ll see kakapo, weka, robin and fernbird. You’ll also see fur seals, sea lions and penguins.

Weka sighting at Stewart Island

Where

Exactly 30 kilometres to the south of Bluff, New Zealand’s southernmost town. Surrounded by the wild Tasman Sea and several smaller atolls, Stewart Island is a hidden treasure. Access can be via a 30-minute flight or an hour long boat trip.

When

Stewart Island has a mild but cool climate with little temperature extremes and changeable weather, often bringing four seasons in a day. Temperatures range between 10 degrees Celsius in the winter and between 18 and 24 degrees Celsius in the summer. Any time of the year is a good opportunity to visit this island paradise but our favourite season is spring due to the longer days and the carpet of blooming flowers that cover the island.

Why

The absence of civilisation, careful management of predators and protected conservation status make Stewart Island a rare gem. It is the only place in the world you can see New Zealand's national bird during daylight hours, and the ancient Gondwana forest that covers much of the island is spectacular.  Off-the-beaten-track, wild and remote it offers a glimpse into New Zealand of the past — and that isn't something to be missed.