When it comes to experiences in Southland and Stewart Island, those with a passion for the serene side of nature are in luck. From twitching your binoculars in the hope of spotting a rare flightless Kiwi, to casting your line out to catch a brown trout, this is the ideal spot for the sedate hobbyist seeking a peaceful, contemplative experience.
The Best Things to Do in Southland and Stewart Island
If you’re after an urban getaway, head to Invercargill. A bustling little city, known for excellent eateries, warm hospitality and a particularly great museum. But beware you’ll be missing out if you stay cocooned in the city, as Stewart Island provides the best wildlife experiences in the whole of New Zealand.
Ecotourism is the watchword on Stewart Island (Rakiura), a truly rural New Zealand destination. With only 400 inhabitants across the whole island (which is the smallest of the three) people are sparse while wildlife and wide, open, stunning space are the stars.
Although, speaking of stars, if astronomy is your thing there is plenty to reward you on a trip to Rakiura. Also known as the land of glowing skies, the island is an excellent viewing spot for the ‘Aurora Australis’ (the southern lights) a spectacular light show. Equally as incredible as the more famous Northern Lights, seeing a star-studded sky flood with colours should sit at the top of everyone’s bucket list.
When it’s the sun that is sitting fat in the sky, there are plenty of options for guided walks and exploring the island on foot, and they all take in the islands vast array of native birds and the obligatory New Zealand spectacular scenery.
Start with the Rakiura Track, a relatively easy 3 day hike that winds its way from Halfmoon Bay on the east, past sea views and sandy beaches, across swing bridges and through imposing woodland. This island is known for its rugged, enrapturing scenery, but this hike mainly follows well maintained boardwalks, making each day a gentle 12km, that won’t prove challenging to anyone comfortable with the distance.
Take a True Kiwi Tour
If you’re looking to take tours on Stewart Island, we heartily recommend the Kiwi Journey. Named not for the people of the island, but for the small, sweet, flightless bird, this 2-day trail takes you around the forests, rivers and sand dunes they frequent. These nocturnal birds aren’t always around in the day, but by night you can listen to their carefree calls, and the odds are in your favour on this walk, planned specifically to maximise your chances.
And if the adorable kiwi isn’t enough birdlife for you, continue with a trip to Ulva Island. Lead by experienced guide, Furhana, this easy tour will wind you through rainforests with a warm, interesting commentary on the island’s history. Furhana is also renowned for her incredible ability to identify bird calls, and she’ll signpost you towards a whole flock of feathered natives including parrots, bellbirds, tui’s saddlebacks and parakeets.
Ready to Experience the Wonders of Southland and Stewart Island?
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