Stewart Island/Rakiura Track

For those who are unfamiliar with Stewart Island, it is technically the third major island of New Zealand, located south of the South Island. The island is essentially a nature reserve, with a single village located on the island, called Oban, with only 300 or so permanent residents. In off season (when we decided to visit), the village relies essentially just on fishing as a source of income, bit in peak season, makes its money from hikers and tourists. If you decide to visit the village in off season, you may experience what we did, in that the entire town will be at the village’s only pub and you and one other group of hikers will be the only outsiders on the entire island. You may also be able to join the locals in celebrating Gary’s birthday as we did. If you see signs throughout the town with the word “rocks” written on them and are curious, ask one of the locals to explain the back story behind them to you, it’s fantastic and I won’t ruin the surprise for you. To get to the island, you will have to make your way to Bluff Ferry Terminal at the very bottom of the South Island and then take the 1-2 trip to the island. There is a friendly backpacking lodge in the center of town if you are looking for accommodation. The trail itself is not overly hard but can get a tad tedious on the second day due to being completely under forest cover with no point of reference as to where you are. There are two huts on the three-day trail which we chose to do. The first will have you stay on a beachfront area which is quite nice, but completely covered in sandfly’s so bring repellant. The second cabin was by far my favourite and has you stay on an inlet. Once the tide goes out, I highly recommend that you go down to the rocks and harvest a few bags of fresh oysters to cook on the cabin fireplace or over a burner. They are absolutely amazing and unbelievably fresh as you harvested them yourself. If you ever make it to the area, the track is worth doing and gives you an unusual feeling of remoteness and isolation, putting you more in touch with the nature of the island itself.