Look Closer and Discover Real Stewart Island

Date: 23 December 2022

Get closer to Stewart Island through its people, places and experiences.

Stewart island beach under the night sky

Explore Rakiura Stewart Island's hidden stories

Catch the ferry across to Rakiura Stewart Island, and you’re heading to one of the southernmost points in New Zealand.

A destination untouched by the fast-paced lifestyle of the rest of the world, Rakiura is a place to recentre, refresh and replenish your battery amongst the jungle and beach settings.

A local guide and guest look up to the trees on a Stewart Island tour

Photo: Krista May

Find joy every step of the way

Stewart Island is home to some of the most passionate and caring people in New Zealand. As no exception, local guide Nicola cares for her island, the native wildlife, and her work.

She takes us on our expedition to Ulva Island off the coast of the mainland of Stewart Island. A sanctuary for birdlife, it is one of the best places to listen to their song, spot rare native birdlife, and wander peacefully through the jungle. We tread carefully along the path – not because it’s treacherous, but because we’re ensuring we don’t miss a thing. Nicola is just as attentive as us to the surroundings – if anything, it’s shocking that this might be one of the hundreds of tours she’s led. Her enthusiasm makes it feel like it could be her first.

It feels special, and a real secret when she reveals the habitual spot of a local morepork (ruru). After a few minutes of our eyes staring at walls of green and brown, we decipher the owl in the side of a tree trunk.

Nicola shares in the joy of the group, and each individual, when they discover the morepork. It's raw empathy and clear that finding happiness in others is a joy.

The Weka

Get caught up birdwatching

Off the coast of Rakiura Stewart Island is a small but mighty Ulva Island, a sanctuary to countless bird species. To best understand its inhabitants, walk slowly along the island's trails, soak up the smells and the sights in the bush, and, most importantly, listen carefully.

Either at dusk or in the early evening, you might hear a repetitive, loud ''coo-et'', belonging to the resident weka. These large flightless birds are charismatic as much as curious and often attracted to human activity, making an encounter with one an experience to remember.

Warning: spotting birdlife can become addictive, and the rarer the bird spotted, the greater the feeling.

Stewart island beach under the night sky

Search for kiwi by starlight

Finding a wild kiwi is New Zealand's Holy Grail. It's what many aspire to find when travelling to secluded hot spots of the national bird in Rakiura.

We're keen believers in the journey being just as important as the destination, and the search for this rare species is no different.

Heading out on a Wild Kiwi Encounter, you're out at dusk, following starlight, and taking in all the sounds, sights and smells of raw Rakiura. It's what makes the experience memorable. Having the chance to catch a glimpse of our feathered friend at the end is just the cherry on top.

Want to discover one of the few places you can spot a wild kiwi? Look closer here for more information.