Stewart Island is located 30 kilometres (19 miles) off Bluff, New Zealand's southernmost town. Accessed via a 30-minute flight or an hour long boat trip. The island is surrounded by the wild Tasman Sea and several smaller atolls.
Over 85 percent of Stewart Island is covered by National Park, making it a haven for brown kiwi. Over 20,000 of these birds reside in the overland forests – outnumbering the human population of 400. There is one main settlement – Halfmoon Bay – and a vast network of golden sand beaches, densely forest hills and breathtaking landscapes.
The island is mainly as it was before human habitation, and exploring its many walking tracks is one of the best ways to truly appreciate the beauty of the landscape. Visit the bird sanctuary on nearby Ulva Island or take one of the many Kiwi spotting tours available. Choose from hundreds of hikes ranging from 15 minutes to 12 days, all of which can be accessed from Halfmoon Bay.
Spend some time bird watching – where you are likely to see kiwi, kakapo, weka, robin and fernbird, and if you wander down to the coast, you’ll see fur seals, sea lions and penguins. 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 an excellent 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.
The only place in the world you can see New Zealand's national bird during daylight hours – the absence of civilisation, careful management of predators and protected conservation status make Stewart Island a rare gem. 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.
Take a guided Kiwi Spotting Tour for the best chance of seeing New Zealand's native bird.
Visit the bird sanctuary, Ulva Island to see many rare New Zealand birds and ancient Gondwana Forest.
Visit during spring to see a vast, magnificent carpet of flowers covering the island.