Stewart Island TrampingTramping Stewart Island
The Rakiura Track | Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island
When Stewart Island's Northwest Circuit is like Abel Tasman on stereoids, the three-day Rakiura Track, much through Rakiura National Park, is a scaled-down version: coastline stroll over craggy coves; large Rimu/Rata wood; a sandy gold sandy shore to hike along; some historical artefacts from lumberjack times, i.e. large steamships in unlikely places; an deserted 1870s village in Port William; a shot at least to see a kiwifruit in the open country; magnificent vistas of Patterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera; more wood that has regenerated itself 100 years ago; indeed abundant.
All of this from a great course, 99% mud-free for sure. As all NZ Great Walks this is probably the least frequented route, i.e., OK roadtop, mostly perhaps 70% import crushed stone due to the otherwise marshy, swampy places, scenery a slippery slope, even if sometimes precipitous, clear marks, with few, perhaps 2% wood stairs, only where necessary on the more precipitous gradients, which beat the sliding and scratching over trees for the beginner, all brooks bridges, the main mound only 200m.
In 2012, the path from the Murray River to the North Arm was re-cut to avoid the shaky wooden stairs and instead hike along low burrs between the tree and the coronal ferns, a true delight. There is no transport necessary, you can run from the boat to the end of the longest street of the island, full 5 km, the beginning of the formal route in Lee Bay, about one h.
So a great route, no really big ascents, the opportunity to see one or two Kiwis, good cabins, all condensed in three not so tough coars. Really beautiful. Most folks take an anticlockwise tour of civilization in Oban around the coastline to Port William, then a few brief hills on the way to the North Arm and back to Oban.
Yes, the stroll around the coastline is at a low altitude, obviously the ocean alleviates the temperature to a large extent, so whether you believe it or not, it's not really important if you go despite the proximity of 47ºS. However, although it does rain every other rainy weather on general days, the annual precipitation in Oban, 930mm, is less than in Auckland or Wellington, so it often but not too long.
Feeling you want something more detail from Newtopo, create a 1:45,000 weather-resistant 1:45 weatherproof Rakiura Track card available for $9 from the large office DoCs and some outdoors shops, Macpac will keep it or check out this extensive retailer's listing. The way is counter-clockwise, i.e. from civilization in Oban around the coastline to Port William, then a few brief ascents on the way to the North Arm and back to Oban.
There are two cabins on the Rakiura Track. Here is the do c indicated tramp periods between the cabins, as shown on their website, usually real hiking hours, ie not taking into consideration all long pauses. The estimate of the number of hours is based on the time for an "average" hitchhiker, which means that it is possible to shorten the time for more common parts.
Sadly, this year the information tends to highlight a senseless part of hitchhiking, The Destination, and some hitchhikers think they have to test themselves, hurry to show someone something. 3 departures per night, 365 nights a year, from Invercargill to Stewart Island.
It lasts 20 min. and can give a good view of the island. There is a mini bus that brings guests to/from the Oban post office and is priced including. Luggage limit: 15 kg, that's a big issue when you go to the island, because you really have to take all your skim.
Call Stewart Island Flights at 03 218 9129. Real Journeys now owns the exclusive Katamaran boat that connects busses to Invercargill, Queenstown and Te Anau. From Bluff to Oban it will take about an hours drive. there' s everyday shuttles, with more than one on many dates, but it's a powerful complex timetable and tariffs, either $75 adults or $71 off-peak a way from Invercargill to Stewart Island, or $99 or $94 off-peak if you have to get off Invercargill.
Invercargill, pop. 53,000, has the customary large hypermarkets, countdown, New World, Pak'nsave for the most important distributio... This small shop, in Oban, about 400 inhabitants, has an adequate, albeit costly grocery service and essential camp equipment, matchsticks, candles, fuelite and cylinders of natural gas etc., and runs regular office hour, seven nights a week. 2.
There' s no ATM in Bluff or Stewart Island, keep in mind that you venture to the world. Severe rains and windy weather can happen all year round, there are a few web sites about hitchhiking around Stewart Island. DOC Rakiura Tracks page has quite a lot of information, incl. short route memos from cabin to cabin.
Here is a slide show with 36 pictures of the Rakiura Tracks, which gives an idea of the general terms and condition of the route and places of interest in case you need more work.