50 Things to Do on Stewart Island/Rakiura New Zealand

Stewart Island, located off the southern coast of New Zealand, is a beautiful and remote destination known for its stunning natural beauty and unique wildlife.

This comprehensive list will give you an idea of the range of choice of Stewart Island things to do. I think you will agree that there is something for everyone to be involved in that will make your visit a memorable experience.

Oban sign, Stewart Island, Southland, New Zealand
Oban Town Sign - Photo by Tonia Kraakman

Here are 50 things to do on Stewart Island:

Links to the offices on the island that advise on Stewart Island things to do and can take bookings are provided at the bottom of the page.

  1. Explore Oban: The island's main settlement, Oban, offers dining, shopping, and a small museum.

  2. Rakiura National Park: Discover this pristine wilderness area with hiking trails for all fitness levels. Find out more about Rakiura National Park.

  3. Hike the Rakiura Track: A 32-kilometer hike and one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. Rakiura Track experiences Stewart Island's amazing landscape, wildness, and reminder of what it’s like to be close to nature.

  4. Spot Kiwi Birds: Join a guided night tour to see the elusive native flightless kiwi bird in its natural habitat. More about Kiwi and other New Zealand birds.

  5. Ulva Island: Visit this predator-free sanctuary for birdwatching and native flora.

  6. Birdwatching: Stewart Island is home to numerous native bird species, including the kakapo, bellbird, kiwi, saddleback, Stewart Island Robin, tui, shags, and seabirds, to name just a few.

  7. Visit Port William: A historic site accessible by water taxi or multi-day hike.

  8. Fishing: Try your hand at fishing for blue cod, salmon, and a wide variety of other species of fish.

  9. Scenic Flights: Take a plane or helicopter tour to appreciate the island's rugged coastline and landscape.

  10. Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience: Guided tours for nature enthusiasts.

  11. Kayaking: Paddle the island's pristine bays and coastline. Kayakers will love Stewart Island!

  12. Diving: Explore underwater marine life and shipwrecks.

  13. Horse Riding: Experience the island's beauty on horseback. An island horse ride to remember.

  14. Visit the Stewart Island Bunkhouse Theatre: For local performances and events.

  15. Foveaux Strait: Take a memorable boat trip to see seals, sea lions, and other marine life.

  16. Explore hidden beaches: Stewart Island has numerous secluded and beautiful beaches you can visit.

  17. Night Sky Gazing: Stewart Island is a designated Dark Sky Sanctuary, absolutely perfect for stargazing and astrophotography.

  18. Mason Bay: There is a beautiful and remote beach at Mason Bay that is accessible by hiking or can be seen by taking a scenic flight.

  19. Freshwater Fishing: Try your luck at catching trout in the Stewart Island's lakes and rivers.

  20. Visit the Rakiura Museum: Learn about the island's history and culture in the museum in Oban.

  21. Take a ferry: Travel to Stewart Island from Bluff or Invercargill on a ferry. New Zealand ferry journeys are always fantastic for seeing the scenery and landscapes on depature and arrival, whatever the weather.

  22. Visit Ackers Point Lighthouse: A historic lighthouse with amazing scenic views.

  23. Boat Tours: Explore the coastline and nearby islands on guided boat tours.

  24. Explore the local flora: Stewart Island is home to unique plant species, a lot of which have traditionally been used for a variety of things such as medicinal, food, and clothing.

  25. Learn about Maori culture: Visit local museums and cultural sites to discover Maori culture and island life on Stewart Island.

  26. Guided nature tours: Join knowledgeable guides to explore the Stewart Island's ecosystems. Local guides always have a wealth of knowledge about local ecology and nature that you otherwise would find it hard to discover.

  27. Rakiura Art Community: Visit local galleries and studios, who often depend on the support of tourism.

  28. Bushcraft and survival courses: Learn essential outdoor skills from local experts.

  29. Photography: Capture Stewart Island's breathtaking landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, clear night skies, and Southern Lights, Aurora Australis.

  30. Play golf: Enjoy a round at the Stewart Island Golf Club.

  31. Try local cuisine in cafes and restaurants: Sample fresh seafood from around the island and other local delicacies.

  32. Camp under the stars: Enjoy the island's pristine camping sites where you really can experience clear skies and a dawn chorus to be remembered! You may even hear or see Kiwi birds in the night as they are nocturnal.

  33. Beachcombing: Search for shells, driftwood, and other treasures. New Zealand is always good for these activities, you never know what you may find washed up on the shore.

  34. Visit the Stewart Island Community Centre: A hub for local events and activities.

  35. Explore the Freshwater River caves: A unique underground adventure.

  36. Whale and dolphin watching: See if you can spot these majestic marine creatures in the surrounding waters of Stewart Island on a tour with local experts.

  37. Stewart Island Discovery Expeditions: Join guided eco-tours on an expedition and learn about the island at the same time. New Zealand Land Safety Code

  38. Visit Halfmoon Bay: Relax and take in the coastal views at this well known and loved bay.

  39. Hunting: Participate in deer, pig, or duck hunting during the season.

  40. Explore the Tin Range: Hike through this rugged mountainous area. Take note of the New Zealand Land Safety Code before you go.

  41. Visit Observation Rock: For amazing panoramic views of Stewart Island with photographic opportunities.

  42. Take a multi-day tramping adventure: Explore the island's remote corners by hiking over a few days. I have to point out that there are also short walks and hikes that don't take multiple days to achieve. Find out more from the visitor centre linked at the bottom.

  43. Volunteer for conservation: Participate in local conservation efforts if you like to do a bit of volunteering.

  44. Relax at Hot Springs Beach: A natural hot spring on the east coast of Stewart Island

  45. Visit the Stewart Island Flora: A nursery specialising in New Zealand native plants.

  46. Go mountain biking or cycling: Explore the island's trails on two wheels by hiring bikes on Stewart Island.

  47. Stewart Island Smoked Salmon: Sample local seafood products such as excellent salmon.

  48. Experience the Aurora Australis: See the Southern Lights during the right conditions. Admittedly, the aurora does not happen to order but if you are there when the conditions are right, you will be in for a treat.

  49. Visit the historic Norwegian Whaling Station: Learn about Stewart Island's whaling history. Learning about whaling will certainly not be on everyones list of things to do, but I do believe in order to protect the future of wildlife it is often important to understand the past.

  50. Enjoy the serenity: Stewart Island is an excellent place to unwind and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Just relax and enjoy your holiday.

Related Content:

Stewart Island - Stewart Island Activities - Rakiura National Park - Rakiura Track

Southland - Otago - National Parks List - Native NZ birds and animals

New Zealand Land Safety Code for outdoor activities (previously titled the New Zealand Outdoor Safety Code)

Remember to respect the natural environment and local customs while visiting Stewart Island to ensure its continued preservation and beauty.

Stewart Island Things to do: Information and Bookings from Local Sites

Oban Visitor Centre for Information and Bookings opens in new window to external site

Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre (DOC)