- Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary
- Freshwater River & Mason Bay
- Rakiura Track & Port William
- North West Cicuit
- Southern Circuit
- Hunting Transfers
Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary
Ulva Island is the largest of many small islands located in Paterson Inlet (Te Whaka a Te Wera), with a land area of 266 hectares (roughly equal to 400 rugby pitches) combining native bush, picturesque sandy beaches, rocky outcrops and around 4.5 kilometres of easy walking track for visitors to enjoy the birdlife, with a rare opportunity to spot robins, kiwi, kākāriki, saddleback, riflemen, yellowhead and more. Enjoy full commentary on the short, scenic trip across Paterson Inlet and the Ulva Island Marine Reserve, now and then glimpsing a penguin or dolphin along the way.
We offer a flexible, on demand Ulva Island Connection water taxi service to Ulva Island for freedom walkers, as well as guided walks:
“The Ulva Island Connection” service offers convenient, ON DEMAND Golden Bay water taxi departures, with no strict schedules! Ulva Island is open between 8am and 6pm and we work around your needs. Typically a 2 to 4 hour visit with a flexible pick-up time can be arranged to suit.
CALL FREEPHONE 0800 725 487 to book a time that suits you.
A self-guide booklet “Explore an Island Paradise – Ulva Island” is available from our Booking Office (Main Rd) or the shelter on Ulva Island itself for a $2 donation to the Ulva Island Charitable Trust.
If you would like a guide to join you; our Ulva Island guides are internationally renowned, and simply the most experienced guides on Stewart Island. Passionate about this open sanctuary’s inhabitants, as well as its unique forest habitat and cultural history, our guides will enhance your birding experience.
Freshwater River & Mason Bay
Freshwater River, gateway to the Southern Circuit, is a hugely popular destination providing access to the remote and unique Mason Bay, and world-class Kiwi spotting opportunities. We offer water taxi services to and from Freshwater River, as well as Scenic Cruises and the original Coast to Coast (a fly-walk-boat package):
Our water taxi service to Freshwater River provides access to the Southern Circuit, gateway to Mason Bay, which is regarded as a remote, challenging tramp needing good fitness and route-finding skills. We also provide a pick up service from Freshwater River for those who are completing the North-West Circuit. This service takes approximately 45 minutes, taking you through Paterson Inlet and up the stunning, winding river. The Freshwater River is a tidal destination, with departure and return times varying from day to day, so please enquire directly for service times and availability.
Due to popular demand, we are now offering seats aboard our daily water taxi run to Freshwater River for this vessel based Scenic Cruise through Paterson Inlet, past the Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary and up the stunning, winding river. There is no walking on this service, designed for those who would like to see a unique part of the island without the tramping. Your Skipper will provide a fascinating commentary to help you appreciate the historical and geographical sites in Paterson Inlet including the Rakiura National Park, the Ruggedy Ranges, the Freshwater Inlet and Mason Bay.
Coast to Coast Adventure
A unique fly, tramp, boating adventure to and from Mason Bay which gives the opportunity to see the diversity between the west and east coasts of Stewart Island. This includes:
- Scenic flight from either Invercargill or Halfmoon Bay for spectacular aerial views of Paterson Inlet and Mason Bay;
- Beach landing at Mason Bay;
- 4 hour wilderness hike on part of the North West Circuit track (Rakiura National Park) plus a realistic chance of spotting kiwi;
- 45 minute water taxi trip down the meandering Freshwater River and Paterson Inlet to/from Golden Bay.
If the tide allows, this can be experienced as a day trip, however this package is available anytime as an over night trip, with visitors staying at either of the two Department of Conservation huts at Freshwater River or Mason Bay. Overnight stays may increase your chances of spotting one of our nocturnal Stewart Island Tokoeka (kiwi) in the wild!
A moderate level of fitness is required for this experience, and you must provide all of your own overnight gear including food, cooking equipment, sleeping bag and appropriate clothing.
A Coast to Coast help booklet including a detailed map is issued to each person undertaking this trip.
Tide and weather conditions apply.
Call today for more information and for availability.
Rakiura Track & Port William
Video courtesy Department of Conservation
The Rakiura Track Great Walk consists of well-formed tracks, sections of which when combined with boat transport, make for great day walks. The complete Rakiura Track is a 29 km tramping track, suitable for anyone with moderate fitness. It takes three days, provides a good introduction to the scenery of Stewart Island and is suitable for tramping all year round.
The Port William coastal track, part of the Rakiura Great Walk, is one of the island’s most popular half day walks. Take advantage of our scheduled departures to Port William so that you can enjoy the track in one direction. After a short cruise along the stunning coastline including historical commentary, be dropped off at the Port William wharf. Discover the former Maori Beach saw mill settlement on the 3-4 hour hike through the varied Rakiura National Park forest to Lee Bay.
From Lee Bay, there is an option to book a shuttle to collect you and take you back to Halfmoon Bay/Oban. Or walk the rest of the way back to Halfmoon Bay/Oban along the local roads, an additional 1.25 hours walk. If you are looking for an additional challenge, the Horseshoe Point Headland walk loop is another 1.5 hours along the way.
North West Circuit
The North West Circuit offers challenging multi-day tramping around Rakiura/Stewart island’s northern coast, suitable for the fit and well-equipped.
The Southern Circuit, gateway to Mason Bay, is regarded as a remote, challenging tramp needing good fitness and route-finding skills. It features a side trip to the rocky summit of Mt Rakeahua and access is via the North West Circuit Track, on foot from Halfmoon Bay via North Arm or by boat.
The Department of Conservation’s Rakiura National Parks web page and Stewart Island field office are an essential visit during the planning phase of your hike. DOC can assist with tramping itineraries to suit, weather forecasting, equipment preparation and track and hut information.
Stewart Island offers hunters the only readily accessible herd of Virginian Whitetail deer in the Southern Hemisphere and is therefore a popular destination for deer hunters. There are 35 hunting blocks and an open zone within the Stewart Island / Rakiura National Park. Many of these hunting blocks have specific hunter camps and huts while others share backcountry huts and facilities with trampers.
We can provide comfortable transport to and from the following hunting blocks, as well as dinghy and cooking kit hire:
Excess gear charges apply.
Cooking Kit and Gas Bottle Hire
We also have available a full Cooking Kit for hire, the pack includes everything you will need, including a large gas bottle. The cooking kit costs $15 per night and includes the following:
We can also arrange a sack or two of Coal if required ($NZD12.50 each for 20kg). Coal can be helpful to get fires started if kindling is wet, or to keep the heat high.
If you are flying to Invercargill and/or Stewart Island, many of our customers find it useful to pre-order groceries from our local Stewart Island Ship to Shore 4 Square (03) 2191 069.
Departures are generally from the main Halfmoon Bay ferry terminal. We aim to meet you directly from your ferry arrival if possible, or can allow time to visit the store or the DOC Visitor Centre.
Hunting and Hut Information:
For current information on track descriptions, conditions, features and camping site/ hut facilities and availability, as well as weather forecasts, please contact the Stewart Island Department of Conservation office directly on (03) 219 0002 or check out their website. Please note that bookings are required at some huts and campsites, through the Department of Conservation and that suitable gear and equipment is required for any overnight stays in the Rakiura National Park.
Permits are required for all hunting and these need to be applied for with DOC in advance. For hunting block bookings and availability, and permit information, click here.
Safety & Firearms:
We also recommend that you complete the Outdoors Intentions for Land Based Activities form before you leave. The Stewart Island Department of Conservation field office can also hire you an emergency beacon if you would like one and we also recommend that you have with you a fully charged radio and mobile phone. All hikers should visit the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre, located on Main Road, Stewart Island, for up to date weather and track condition information, before setting off for your hike.
Please contact Stewart Island Flights or Stewart Island Experience for firearm transport regulations on board flights or the ferry.
Track descriptions courtesy of the Department of Conservation.