Rakiura National Park
For those wanting to see a snippet of New Zealand’s wildlife history, back to a time when birds ruled New Zealand, look no further than Rakiura National Park in Stewart Island. Established in 2002, the park makes up about 85 percent of Stewart Island and is New Zealand’s 14th national park. Scenic reserves, former nature reserves and state forest cover the park, and although the island lies only 30 kilometres south west of Bluff, it could very easily be in another part of the world. The soft southern light that falls around the sunsets and sunrises are simply stunning. Visitors interested in fauna can see seals, kiwi, weka, penguins and many other birds – there are also options for the avid hunter such as hunting and fishing. Don’t forget to check out the boating, cruises and scenic flights. Rakiura National Park is the most recent addition to New Zealand’s national park portfolio; it is a captivating world of untouched and unmodified habitats and ecosystems. The park provides an outstanding opportunity to see native wildlife and primeval landscapes, from thick coastal rainforests and freshwater wetlands, to immense sand dunes and granite mountain ranges. Another special part of the night time in Rakiura is the unforgettable chorus that nocturnal bird life provides, and you will also have an excellent chance of seeing the Kiwi bird in the wild. That’s not to say daylight doesn’t hold its own, the serenade of bird song continues into the day. You’ll hear bellbirds, grey warblers, fantails, tui and many more – including the Stewart Island robins. The coastal fringe of Rakiura is also home to many different species of seabird. Within the park, DoC (Department of conservation) provides more than 25 hikers huts that include some ‘Great Walk’ huts that offer a good standard of accommodation. There is also a hotel, motel, lodge accommodation and B & B in the islands only town, Oban. To get to Rakiura you need to take a one hour ferry ride which leaves from the town of Bluff (where you can also find a wide range of accommodation), the nearest city to Bluff is Invercargill which is a 20 minute drive from Bluff. With only 25km of roads, Stewart Island is a delight for hikers. There are 245 kilometres of walking tracks, and all of them can be accessed from the town of Oban. The 'Great Walk' on the island is the Rakiura Track, a circuit that takes around three days to complete. For day-trippers, there's a range of short walks to enjoy - Fern Gully (2 hours return), (Ryan's Creek 3 hours return), Horseshoe Point (3 hours return) and Moturau Moana (1 hour return), just to name a few. If you would like to see rare birds and planet species, a water taxi is available to take you to the island of Ulva, which is an open sanctuary and safe environment for flora and fauna. Two or three times a week there are guided trips to Masons Bay which provide you the chance to watch Kiwis eating sandhoppers on the beach. Travel Guide New Zealand proudly presents this listing to you. Hopefully, when you visit Stewart Island and are looking for places to visit you will consider Rakiura National Park. And if you do decide to visit Rakiura National Park remember to come back to Travel Guide and share your experience.