Rakiura National Park Stuart Island
New Zealand

Rakiura National Park is on Stewart Island, New Zealand. Named Rakiura by Māori which means ‘The Land of Glowing Skies' and most likely to have been named so due to the Southern Lights, Aurora Australis, or the amazing scenes created when the sun rises or sets. Māori are pretty good at naming places!

Covering an area of 157,000 hectares, Rakiura Park pretty much takes up most of Stewart Island and is full of natural attractions such as forests and reserves for nature conservation, beautiful beaches on the west, and sheltered inlets on the east.

Parts of the Island that are not included in the National Park are Māori land, Whenua Hou / Codfish Island, and other freehold land along with the foreshore.

Accommodation ranges from backpackers, bed and breakfast, lodges, 4-5 hotels, to self-catering, and the walkers huts and camping sites.

Attractions and Activities in Rakiura National Park

The visitor centre in Oban gives advice and information about things to do on Rakiura/Stewart Island and bookings can be made at the visitor centre office.

Wildlife

An example of wildlife to be seen around Stewart Island are; kiwi, kakapo, kaka, albatrosses, gannets, petrels, shearwaters, cormorants/shags, herons, godwits, weka, different types of penguins, and seals. Although not part of the park, Whenua Hou / Codfish Island is a nature reserve where the last flightless kakapo have been relocated to ensure their survival. This is a predator and pest free island to the west of Stewart Island that supports many endangered species.

Walks

There are nearly 250km of walks catering for various abilities from 10 minute to 3 hour walks near Oban, to upwards of half day and full day walks, and multi-day hiking.

Tramping tracks for experienced and well-equipped trampers who want a challenge include

  • The 3 day 36km Rakiura Track walk, it’s listed as one of NZ’s Great Walks.
  • The Southern Circuit which takes between 6 and 9 days and covers 105km.
  • Finally, the North West Circuit challenge of 125km taking 10 to 12 days to complete.

There are walkers campsites and huts in Rakiura National Park.

Scenic

You will likely see the highest peak of the 980 metre Mt Anglem/Hananui as you approach the island.

You’ll also find wetlands and grasslands, landforms, dunes, forests, mountains and alpine herb fields, streams, rivers, and lakes to explore.

Scenic flights, cruises, and various guided tours are available.

Rakiura National Park Location

If you are in the south of the South Island it’s worth taking the 30km trip across Foveaux Strait from Bluff Harbour to the island. Alternatively it only takes 15 to 20 minutes to fly in a helicopter from Bluff, or by aircraft from the airport at Invercargill.

List of all national parks in New Zealand

Walks - Stay safe and read the NZ Outdoor Safety Code.

Birds and Animals