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Stewart Island

Stewart Island

Stewart Island: Our most recommended tours and activities

Stewart Island: Ulva Island Guided Wilderness Walk & Cruise

1. Stewart Island: Ulva Island Guided Wilderness Walk & Cruise

Discover Stewart Island from the water with a cruise into the beautiful Paterson Inlet and  enjoy a guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Admire Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery from hidden coves to unspoilt beaches. Hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement as you pass various landmarks. While on board, keep a lookout for fur seals, penguins and other wildlife, as sightings are common. Paterson Inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island. Disembark here for an approximately 1.5 hour guided walk with our passionate specialist nature guides, providing engaging commentary and are more than happy to answer questions.  The island is home to weka, bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species. Relax for the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to the wharf.

Stewart Island: Wild Kiwi Encounter

2. Stewart Island: Wild Kiwi Encounter

Adventures begin 1.5 hrs before the sun sets when you'll head out on a unique nature cruise at sea. Look out for rare marine life, such as titi, albatross / toroa, penguins (hioho / korora), NZ fur seals (kekeno) and other wildlife from the vessel. Cruise around Stewart Island’s smaller neighbouring islands (weather permitting) under beautiful evening skies with plenty of photo opportunities, before you reach Little Glory Cove as dusk falls, your kiwi spotting location. Enjoy an informative presentation about the Rakiura tokoeka (Southern Brown Kiwi) from our incredible guides, before you disembark into the night under celestial skies. We'll take you across the peninsula and through the coastal forest by torch and starlight before arriving at a secluded sandy beach where elusive tokoeka are sometimes found feeding among the grasses and seaweed. Here, the walk will continue under the stars, searching for wild kiwi.   You have a higher chance of finding kiwis with our expert staff. However, kiwis are wild and unpredictable, and there is no 100% guarantee they will appear. Their rareness and the thrill of searching are what makes the experience special and enjoyable, so we cannot offer refunds if there is no sighting. Instead, $20 per person will be donated to conservation projects at Little Glory Cove, so we can continue to increase the chances of seeing the incredible tokoeka in the wild. 

Stewart Island: Village and Bays Tour

3. Stewart Island: Village and Bays Tour

Are you ready to leave behind the hustle and bustle of city life? Explore New Zealand's Southernmost community from the comfort of a modern mini bus. The local guides are passionate about Stewart Island and enjoy sharing their in-depth knowledge of the history and environment of the region. During the tour, your friendly guides will take you on a journey though Oban township and across numerous picturesque bays and inlets. Unspoiled, incredibly beautiful, and steeped in stories of Maori legend, Stewart Island is well worth this informative introduction. There is plenty of time to get off the bus for photo stops and short walks along the way. Highlights include the Rakiura National Park entrance at Lee Bay, Halfmoon and Horseshoe Bays, and views of Paterson Inlet from Observation Rock.

From Queenstown: Day Trip to Stewart Island by Plane

4. From Queenstown: Day Trip to Stewart Island by Plane

Take a trip by plane from Queenstown to New Zealand's southernmost island, Stewart Island, also known as Rakiura. Explore the island at your own leisure for the day, including its impressive national park, before being flown back to the mainland. Start in Queenstown, where you'll be picked up and taken to your flying location. From the Remarkables, you'll fly south over the Oreti River, before enjoying views over Toetoes Bay on the southern coast. Pass over Dog Island and Ruapuki Island before reaching your destination. Once at Stewart Island, enjoy the flexibility to create your own itinerary for the day. Consider exploring Rakiura National Park, which makes up over 85% of the island and is a paradise for birdwatching and hiking. Look out for the Tokoeka (brown kiwi bird) native to the island. Or choose from walks along the coastline, rainforest hikes, and the option to visit Ulva Island via water taxi. Stop for lunch at Kai Kart, famous for its fish and chips. Other additional options include embarking on a land-based tour with Aurora Cab Company or enjoy a 1.5 hour personal tour of Stewart Island or travelling at your own pace with Stewart Island Electric Bikes and explore the 30km of roads. All additional activities are to be booked directly by the customer and are not included in the package. Any activities should be booked between 10:45am - 3:30pm. At the end of your adventure, you'll be flown back to Queenstown and dropped off at your hotel.

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What people are saying about Stewart Island

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 124 reviews

Perfect tour! Our guides Sarah and Jane were simply amazing, you could tell that they love their work, hence they were extremely passionate about the wildlife on the way (penguins, albatrosses, seals, more birds …) and trying to find Kiwis (we saw 4). Even if we wouldn’t have seen any, the boat trip and walking about in the bushes is so worth it - highly recommend, 10/10!!

Excellent nature walk. Natasha was knowledgeable and very interesting. Ulva Island is incredibly beautiful and we saw a lot of native birds and plants.

We had an all-round perfect tour with very good support, great expertise and many animal sightings. The tour was worth every penny.

Great weather, sunny and cool. There were 5 in our tour group. All were friendly and helpful.

Despite a wet day it was a magical experience with fantastic guides. Thoroughly recommend!