DESTINATIONS
MACAU: Magical Charm
AUSTRALIA, TA: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
USA, NM: Santa Fe – Downtown Retreat & Mountain Ranch Resort
PERU: Lake Sandoval, Amazonia: Mundos Intocados – Untouched Worlds.
AUSTRALIA, SA: Hopping Across to Kangaroo Island
USA, WY: The Legend of Buffalo Bill
AUSTRALIA, SA: Dishing It Out In South Australia
USA, NV: Top 10 Las Vegas Travel Tips
KIWI: Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track - Stairway to Heaven
KIWI: Sitting on the DOC of the Bay - A Campervan in the Coromandel
HONG KONG: Top Ten Must See Attractions
MACAU: A Macanese Affair to Remember
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 2
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 1
KIWI: Top 10 Kiwi Coastal Department of Conservation Campsites
KIWI: South by Southwest Auckland
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Campervan Adventures on the Great Tropical Drive
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Adventurous Atributes
KIWI: Top 10 Adventure Activities to Experience in Auckland
KIWI: The Gems and Jewels of the Tutukaka Coast
AUSTRALIA, NSW: A South Coast & Southern Highlands Tasting Seduction
USA, WY: Unadulterated Wilderness - Yellowstone National Park
KIWI: Island’s in the Gulf
USA, SD: Famous Faces in Great Places
USA, MT: Montana’s Forgotten Ghost Towns
UAE: Abu Dhabi - More Than A Flight of Fancy
WESTERN SAMOA: In the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stephenson
TONGA: Vava’u Island Group
KIWI: Unpack, Inhale and Unwind – Breathing Easy on Auckland’s West Coast
KIWI: Waiheke Island – Paradise Found
USA, ID: Sun Valley Lodge, Ketchum
USA, ID: A Big City with a Small Town Heart
SOUTH KOREA: Temple Tourism Where Silence is Golden
AUSTRALIA, TAS: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
AUSTRALIA, TAS: A Taste and a Tipple in Tassie
KIWI: Conjuring Up Some Matakana Magic
FIJI: Cavorting on the Coral Coast
USA, CA: Jamaica Bay Inn, Marina Del Rey
NEPAL: Kartwheeling in Kathmandu
KIWI: Going With The Flow - A Day on the Dart River
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 2.
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 1.
SINGAPORE: Capella Hotel, Sensosa Island
USA, HI: Hairpin Highway to Hana and Beyond
KIWI: Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown
ENGLAND: Haunted by Heathcliff - Yorkshire's Bronte Country
USA, CA: Handlery Union Square Hotel, San Francisco
KIWI: This Restless Land – Hiking the Tongariro Crossing & Mt. Ruapehu
KIWI: On My Bike - Mountain Biking and the Queenstown Bike Festival
ENGLAND: Mark it in Your Calendar – Visit Skipton, Yorkshire
SCOTLAND: A Scottish Highland Fling
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: Wrestling Wrasse on the Beara Peninsula
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: 48 Hours in Cork
ENGLAND: The Land of Romans, Myths and Medieval Castles
SCOTLAND: 48 Hours in Edinburgh
WALES: Wandering North Wales
USA, CA: In Yountville Pushing the Epicurean Envelope
ENGLAND: On The Trail of Lancashire’s Pendle Witches
THAILAND: Sky High in Bustling Bangkok
TAHITI: Lazy Hazy Days of Winter - Tahitii and Moorea
AUSTRALIA, QLD: In Seventh Heaven
VENEZUELA: Where Angels Dared To Tread
NORFOLK ISLAND: Isle of Exiles
NEW CALEDONIA: Flavours of New Caledonia
KIWI: The Wonder Country - Campervan Ventures in Southland
MALAYSIA, Sabah Borneo: In The Land of the Red Ape
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Taste of the Tropics

KIWI: Stewart Island's Natural Beauty

A little island, off a little island, off a little island . . . is how David Attenborough once described his visit to a Ocean Beach on Stewart Island during a nighttime excursion to see kiwi birds in the wild. The flight across from Invercargill is just 20 minutes but it transports you to another time, in another place that seems to have been preserved for visits in a 'Tardis time machine.'

AUTHOR & PHOTOGRAPHER: ©Shane Boocock 2014

 

A little island, off a little island, off a little island . . . is how David Attenborough once described his visit to a Ocean Beach on Stewart Island during a nighttime excursion to see kiwi birds in the wild.

 

To get to this island's deserted beaches I first had to leave my own island (Waiheke) by ferry, taking a taxi to Auckland Airport before catching a Boeing 737 flight to Christchurch. I then boarded a much smaller Bombardier Q300 twin-propeller plane from Christchurch to Invercargill before jumping aboard a 10 seat Britten-Norman flight to Stewart Island.

 

The flight across from Invercargill is just 20 minutes but it transports you to another time, in another place that seems to have been preserved for visits in a 'Tardis time machine.'

 

As I was greeted by my accommodation host the bird calls from Tui, Kakariki and the infamous cheeky native parrot, the kaka barked out at me as I was shown my room in the appropriately named Kaka Retreat located in the small settlement of Oman. This is a village of about 350 souls where the local 'Four Square' has bragging rights in calling their store, the most southerly supermarket in the world.

 

I had dinner in the local pub, the South Sea Hotel where the Sunday night trivia quiz was in full swing, filling the bar with 80 or more locals and tourists. I sat by myself but was soon sequestered into a team from the North Island called the Crazy H's that consisted of Ryan, Olive, Jocelyn, Helen and Neil. I had to leave before the final results but they probably ended up in the top half of all the other teams I reckon?

 

At 8.30 pm I bordered the boat Wildfire with 15 other intrepid night owls to seek out kiwis in the wild. Bravo Tours have operated the kiwi night excursions since 1989, and Phil’s clientele have included such luminaries as the renowned presenter Sir David Attenborough. It takes about three hours including a cruise out to . . . Cove before hiking along a hand-torch-lit track for about 20 minutes to Ocean Beach, a favourite spot for the kiwis to break cover and dig with their long beaks into the sand and seaweed for tasty delicacies. We saw two kiwi birds close up and two kiwi on the fringes of the thick bush. Another successful encounter we were assured, bearing in mind very few New Zealanders have ever seen a kiwi in the wild!

 

The following day had started slowly as we didn't arrive back at the wharf in Oban until 11.45 pm the night before. However I still managed to hike about 6-7 km on the Golden Bay Track returning via the Deep Bay Track around Oban, which is mainly in bush with a good number of steps to negotiate. However with three days to spare the Rakinau Track is on of DOC’s great walks and considered a ultimate challenge to hikers.

 

After sneaking into the South Sea Hotel for a lunchtime pizza (very yummy) and a pint I caught the 12.45 pm Patterson Inlet Cruise on board the Stewart Island Experience luxury catamaran. The trip is very informative with commentary by fourth and fifth generation islanders as they cruise close to the coastline.

 

Muttonbird story . . .

To conclude the trip we ended up with a visit to Ulva Island - a renowned wildlife sanctuary that includes a host of rare plants. During our 45 minute guided walk we spotted native birds such as the Stewart Island robin, kaka, bellbirds, tui and a pair of Stewart Island weka, which are often mistaken for kiwi. Weka are supposedly a flightless member of the Rail family, they can however flap their wings while jumping and if necessary swim.

 

As soon as the cruise finished I hopped in a bus for a Village & Bays Tour. With only 27 km of roads it's hard to get lost on Stewart Island, however what is surprising is that there is over 350 km of hiking trails once the road finishes. This little tour is good value for money and a great way to explore Oban with a knowledgeable guide who regales the passengers with entertaining insights into the community, history and environment on the island.

 

My last excursion of the day was to walk up the hill to the town's only fine dining establishment, Church Hill Restaurant & Oyster Bar. I started with half a dozen deep-fried Stewart Island oysters, which was by nautical miles some of the best I've ever tasted. I also knew I couldn't leave the island without sampling the mainstay fish caught in local waters - Blue Cod. Mine was oven-baked with brown butter sage sauce, potato and kumara rosti and seasonal vegetables – was a true southern winner.

 

Besides all the hiking opportunities on the island there are mountain bikes to hire, scooters or cars and kayaks that can be rented as well as the charter fishing industry which is one of the best in New Zealand and a mainstay of the community and the fishing it can be divulged is superb. So it’s hard not to be impressed with the third largest little island in New Zealand, a little island, off a little island, off a little island that has a big heart and a rugged reputation.

 

Shane Boocock travelled to Stewart Island courtesy of Venture Southland.

 

Venture Southland

T: +64 (0)3 211 1400

W: www.venturesouthland.co.nz

 

Stewart Island Flights

T: +64 (0)3 218 9129

W: www.stewartislandflights.com

 

Kaka Retreat, Stewart Island

T: +64 (0)3 219 1250

W: www.kakaretreat.co.nz

 

Paterson Inlet Cruise

T: +64 (0)3 219 0034

W: www.stewartislandexperience.co.nz

 

Bravo Adventures Kiwi Spotting Tour

T: +64 (0)3 219 1144

W: www.kiwispotting.co.nz

 

Village & Bays Tour

T: +64 (0)3 219 0034

W: www.stewartislandexperience.co.nz

 

Church Hill Restaurant

T: +64 (0)3 2191 123

W: www.churchhill.co.nz

 

South Sea Hotel

T: +64 (0)3 219 1059

W: www.stewart-island.co.nz

 

 

 

If you would like to read this article in full or licence it for your own publication, please click here to contact Shane.