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Stewart Island Tours

Paterson Inlet Discovery Cruise

Paterson Inlet Discovery Cruise

NEW 1/2 Day Highlights Cruise
Wildlife, History & Aquaculture

150/89   3.5hrs

Port William Cruise & Walk

Port William Cruise & Walk

25 min scenic cruise & 3-4 hr
walk on the Rakiura Track

From 55/30   3-5.5 hrs

Ulva Island Guided Tour

Ulva Island Guided Tour

Discover Ulva island with the experts. An unforgettable birdlife experience

145/$70   3-4 hrs

Ulva Island Water Taxi & Freedom Walk

Ulva Island Water Taxi & Freedom Walk

Explore Ulva Island at your own pace using our on demand trips

30/15 one way   2-8 hrs

Freshwater River Scenic Cruise

Freshwater River Scenic Cruise

Cruise the winding Freshwater Rive
This 1.5 hr trip includes Mason Bay


Stewart Island Tours

Rakiura Charters provides the most comprehensive Stewart Island tours to the island’s top destinations. This includes Ulva Island, Rakiura Track, Mason Bay, Freshwater Landing and the iconic Coast to Coast Adventure.

Owned and operated by long time Stewart Island locals – Matt & Alina Atkins. Rakiura Charters aims to provide visitors with an unforgettable adventure in one of the most beautiful and remote areas of New Zealand.

Why take a Stewart Island Tour?

Getting to Stewart Island is an adventure in itself, either on the 1hr Bluff to Stewart Island Ferry or scenic 15-20 minute flight. However to fully experience the birdlife and landscapes it is recommended to take one of our scenic boat tours and transfers.

By exploring some of the tracks or the island sanctuary of Ulva Island you will come to appreciate how unique Stewart Island is.  Plus its’ role in preserving some of New Zealand’s most endangered native birds.

Where should you go on a Stewart Island Tour?

These are some of our favourite destinations on Stewart Island. However  Rakiura Charters also offers on demand & private charters on Stewart Island. Call our team if you have something special in mind.

Ulva Island Tours:

Ulva Island is the most popular destination for travellers to Stewart Island. Situated in the Paterson Inlet, part of the Rakiura National Park, it is a 7-10 minute water taxi transfer from Golden Bay Wharf. This is a 15-20 min walk from the main Oban township.

Designated a reserve in 1899 and then declared pest free in 1997, Ulva Island is a unique place. It is managed by the Department Of Conservation and the Ulva Island Charitable Trust. Here you can get a sense of what New Zealand would have been like before pests were introduced by early Maori and European settlers. The primeval forest is alive with native birdsong and there are chances to spot weka wandering the beaches and even the Stewart Island kiwi sometimes makes an appearance to visitors.

Rakiura Charters operates 3 tours to Ulva Island:

  • Ulva Island Connection ($25pp adult return/$10 child)
    This daily scheduled trip runs every day in summer (Dec – 29 Apr) and includes a return water taxi trip to Ulva Island with around 3 hours to explore at your own pace.
  • Ulva Island Guided Walk ($145pp adult / $70 child)
    Discover more on a guided tour of Ulva Island. Join internationally renowned birding guides on this 3-4 hour tour.
  • Ulva Island Water Taxi + Freedom Walk ($25pp adult one way / $10 child)

Ulva Island is a “must-do” destination for everyone and our most popular Stewart Island Tour.

Rakiura Track

The Rakiura Track is the shortest of the New Zealand Great Walks (32 km long). But this in no way compromises the scenery you will encounter. The track traverses through stunning native forest & remote beaches. It is here that trampers can also sometimes spot a New Zealand kiwi in the wild. Most people will walk the track in 3 days but it is also possible to walk the most scenic section of the track in one day.

Rakiura Track in One Day

It is possible to walk the whole track in one day but it would be a challenging experience for those who are well prepared.
However our Port William Cruise & Walk Trip will allow you to walk the most scenic section in 3-4 hours. This trip is great for everyone and families are welcome.

This trip runs daily in summer, but at other times we operate an On Demand Port William transfer. We also operate water taxi transfers to the overnight huts on the Rakiura Track.

Freshwater River & Mason Bay

Freshwater River is the gateway to reaching Mason Bay. However it is also a great scenic boat tour with Rakiura Charters.
Cruise the tidal waters on an exhilarating 1.5hr return cruise. There is a chance to see many native birds and you will see the scenery change as you travel inland up the river.

Learn about the history and geography of Paterson Inlet from your boat skipper,  including the Rakiura National Park, Ruggedy Ranges, Freshwater Inlet and Mason Bay.

This trip departs daily in summer but departure times are subject to the tides so please email or call us to enquire about this trip.

freshwater river on a boat cruise with rakiura charters

Paterson Inlet

Paterson Inlet / Whaka a Te Wera is a natural harbour on the east coast of Stewart Island. Its calm, sheltered waters provide great opportunities to spot pelagic birds, penguins, fur seals, and dolphins.

There are also several historical sites of interest such as Harrold’s Bay Stone Cottage, a Norwegian Whaling Base and The Neck (believed to be Stewart Island’s earliest Maori settlement).

These days Paterson Inlet is also home to a thriving aquaculture industry and our comprehensive Paterson Inlet Discovery Cruise includes Big Glory Bay.

This 3.5 hr cruise is the best way to discover the treasures of Paterson Inlet.

dolphins on the paterson inlet discovery cruise

There are many other locations of interest in Stewart Island such as the North-West Circuit & the Southern Circuit Track destinations. Our custom adventure – the Coast to Coast provides an epic trip of scenic flight, tramping & boating.

Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi, Stewart Island, New Zealand Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi, Stewart Island, New Zealand