Stewart Island SizeThe Stewart Island Size
Tracking kiwis in the rugged southern part of New Zealand | Travel
There are no regular regulations on Stewart Island. "It was supposed to be a buoyancy aid under your seat" - a traveler got panicky when he couldn't find any. The island from the sky is nothing more than gilded coves and an evergreen wood - and the views from the bottom are not much different. In the past there were dispersed villages around Stewart Island, but today only Oban is preserved in Halfmoon Bay.
It' s amazing that the urbane lifestyle of an island almost as big as Tenerife runs out on a few roads with a general shop and a tap. It is also a bar and inn (+63 3 219 1059, stewart-island.co. nz, double room from 43) and is the island's socio-center.
The majority of the island's inhabitants - all 400 - are living in and around Oban, the remainder of the island (85%) is classified as a protected area. Housekeeper Wendy Hallett, the proprietor of a beautiful B&B with a view of the ocean (+64 3 219 1357, double room from 195), introduces me to the charm of living on a lonely island at the foot of the canal.
Most of Stewart Island is hot and humid, with an annual rainfall averaging 200 sunny nights, but the pace of change is alarmingly fast. In the small part of the island, which can be reached by car (+64 3 219 0056, stewartislandexperience.co. nz, 22), the visitor gets to know the essence of the island.
This island produces its own power. Stewart Island offers wonderful sandy areas and great hiking, with a challenging 10-day hike along the north shore (see doc.govt.nz). The people of the island have left their traces from the Maori hermits of the thirteenth and nineteenth centuries to the researchers of the nineteenth centuries and the whaling Norwegians of the twenties.
There is a wealth of local fauna on the island. The most encouraging is the blooming kiwifruit population: the Department of Conservation (DOC) puts that 20,000 of New Zealand's birds are living on the island. At dusk we make our sails to a secluded part of the island before we start on the bus.
The kiwis came to a huge sandy spot where at nocturnal time they eat the small shellfish - the sand hopers - that inhabit the shelter. Unimpressed by his enthusiastic crowd, there was a large Stewart Island kiwifruit looking for shelter. Kiwis of all kinds are at risk, and Stewart Island is one of the few places where they can be seen in the great outdoors.
The neighbouring island of Ulva is even more of an ecological track record. She was taken in a boat with Ulva Goodwillie (+64 3 219 1216, ulva.co. nz, 56), a lineal descendent of the first Maori to set up on Rakiura ("Land of the Glowing Skies" - the Maori name for Stewart Island).
It is a rich source of information about the unique flora and fauna that grow on Ulva, a pest-free open conservation area. There was a lot of bird song in the sky and we discovered innumerable different kinds, among them the airless worka, the uncommon South Island Saddlebird and two enthusiastic pairing caca (bush parrots). Also in the sea it teems with activity.
Kayak is a momentous way to get closer to Stewart Island. Rakiura Kayaks' Liz Cave (+64 3 219 1160, rakiura.co. nz, 30 for one days hire) took me around the small Paterson Inlet islets. It pointed to echinoids, weird starfishes, neon jellyfishes, Stewart Island shag and even small penguines.
Liz's affection for Stewart Island was evident and she expresses her frustrations about the gap year guys who come for a few nights as part of an organized trip and never vacate the lodge (+64 3 219 1160, bunkersbackpackers.co. nz, dormitory bed from £14). Exiting the island is associated with a less dangerous nature experience: Delphin-Spotsting.
Sailing is an alternate to air travel (+64 3 219 0034, stewartislandexperience.co. nz, one hours to bluff, from £33), although it can be tough. After they swam away, I remained on board and did not want to destroy the magic of Stewart Island.