Great Walks Of New Zealand, Rakiura track, Stewart Island


The Great Walks of New Zealand are pure magic. They are indescribably beautiful, overwhelming to the human eye. The Stewart Island, Rakiura Great Walk is the last of the 9 Great Walks of New Zealand, a must see if you want to spot a kiwi & see the third island of New Zealand.

Many people think of New Zealand as two islands, when it is actually three. Subantarctic Stewart Island, which lies 30 kilometres south of the South Island, has a land area of nearly 2000 square kilometres & 85% of it is included within the boundaries of Rakiura National Park where Rakiura Great Walk is located.

The most recent addition to New Zealand’s national park portfolio, Rakiura National Park is an enchanted world of unmodified ecosystems & habitats. From dense coastal rainforests & freshwater wetlands to vast sand dunes & granite mountain ranges, the park provides an exceptional opportunity to see native wildlife & primeval landscapes.

The Great Walks Rakiura trekking track is 36km long & is located on Stewart Island/Rakiura, New Zealand, & is the 9th of the Great Walks in New Zealand.

The Rakiura Great Walk lies within the Rakiura National Park & can be walked over a one- to three-day period. It generally follows the coastline for a large parts of its length, passing small inlets, large bays & mudflats, before crossing steep hills covered in bush (dense forest) during its middle section. There are two Department of Conservation huts on the track, at Port William & the North Arm of Paterson Inlet, & many people overnight at each. There are also camping sites available at Maori Beach, Port William & Sawdust Bay.

Large sections of the Rakiura Great Walk trekking track have wooden boardwalks covered with wiremesh to protect the track from deterioration. Without these, the track often degrades into mud, as Stewart Island receives large amounts of rain during the year which is fantastic for the native environment.

Stewart Island & the Rakiura Great Walk trekking track is well-maintained, & of easy to medium difficulty.

You can expect to see a lot of bird life on the Great Walks Rakiura trekking track!

Stewart Island has a tiny human population & a huge bird population. While people number less than 400, the island’s rich, pure podocarp forest is a sanctuary for native birds. There are more than 100 bird species living on the island, including very rare native birds such as kokako, saddlebacks, robins & yellowheads.

The Stewart Island brown kiwi, also known as the southern tokoeka, is one of six identified species of kiwi. Kiwi are flightless & largely nocturnal. However, tokoeka are active during the day as well as the night. It is estimated there are 20,000 kiwi on Stewart Island. You can’t count on seeing a kiwi, because they avoid human company, however local operators run tours to Ocean Beach, where the birds like to eat sandhoppers.

In the seabird department, Stewart Island is richly blessed. Albatrosses, mollymawks, prions, petrels, shags, gulls, skuas, terns, gannets & blue penguins are common sights. Sooty shearwaters are resident in large numbers during their breeding season. You could also see some of the larger penguins – rockhopper, Fiordland


Department of Conservation

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