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General Information

Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest Island, lying beneath the South Island and accessible from Invercargill by plane and Bluff by ferry.

It's Maori name "Rakiura" means "land of the glowing skies" for it's glorious sunrises, sunsets and southern lights.

Stewart Island is a vast, unspoilt island, largely in wilderness. Approx. 93% is conservation land. There is only one village, Oban with a permanent population of approx. 380.  The road network covers the village only, comprising approx. 28 kms of roads. Stewart Island boasts one of New Zealand’s most natural and unspoilt environments and a beautiful coastline. It attracts people who enjoy the outdoors from trampers (hikers), day walkers, birdwatchers, recreational fishers, sightseeing by boat or by road and of course hunting red deer and the illusive virginian whitetail deer.

Paterson Inlet lies in the heart of Stewat Island - a vast area, approx. 100 sq. kms, opening out to the east coast and surrounded by a bush clad shoreline. Approx. 20 islands and islets are situated within Paterson Inlet, the largest being Ulva Island with an area of approx. 270 hectares.

Freshwater River is one of two major river systems that flows into and feeds Paterson Inlet with nutrients.


Our weather is temperate, influenced by the southern oceans and the Australian continent. It is highly variable. We can get calm, sunny days or wet, windy days with at times hail and occasional flurries of snow in winter. However, four seasons can be experienced in a day, anytime of the year.  We recommend that you always wear / carry suitable clothing and a waterproof raincoat, anytime of the year.

Average winter temperatures range from 7 - 11℃.  Average summer temperatures range from 15 - 18℃, with hot days reaching the high 20℃.  Average rainfall in Oban Village is approx. 1,800 mm.

When to Visit

Visitors come all year round, with the majority coming during the high season when our days are longer and generally warmer.

Tramping (hiking), day walks, guided walks, bird watching, hunting, fishing, cruises, and other activities can take place all year round.

There are fewer operators offering tours and services during the off-season, with some booking offices closed or working shorter hours. Aihe Eco Charters & Water Taxi and Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience operate through most of the off-season.  Our opening hours can be found on the What's On/  Specials and Contact pages of this website.

  • High Season: November to March
  • Low Season: October, April
  • Off-Seaon: May, June, July, August, September

Things to Do

Here are some suggestions:

  • Guided walk
  • Bird watching
  • Cruises
  • Pelagic bird watching
  • Day walks
  • Overnight hikes
  • Sea kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Snorkelling
  • Golf
  • Outdoor bowls
  • Hunting
  • Gym workout / table tennis / badminton...
  • Road tours
  • Photography
  • Painting
  • Writing
  • Meeting the locals
  • Relaxing

Getting Here

Travel to and from Stewart Island is by fixed wing plane from Invercargill Airport or by ferry from Bluff ferry terminal. The ferry company operates a coach service between Invercargill and Bluff. Secure parking is available at Invercargill Airport or at the Bluff ferry terminal. Scheduled flight and ferry services operate all year round.

The ferry timetable from May to September is a reduced service.

For help booking travel to and from Stewart Island or further details on flight and ferry timetables - contact us.


Stewart Island offers a variety of accommodation. At times during the busy season a number of accommodation venues can be fully booked. For peak months Christmas / New Year and Easter we recommend you book early.

A variety of accommodation options are available including: bed and breakfast venues, hotel, motels, holiday homes, backpackers, cabins, campground.  Prices can vary and may be higher than on the mainland (South Island).

For help booking accommodation in Stewart Island - contact us.

Walking Tracks

Stewart Island has over 275 kms of Department of Conservation walking tracks, plus walks within and around Oban Village (from 10 minutes to 2 - 3 hours).  Many of the tracks follow the coast and have native forest and birds that are heard and seen. Three overnight hiking trails with backcountry hut accommmodation, are managed by the Department of Conservation. Only the Rakiura Great Walk requires prior booking of huts.  The overnight hiking trails are:

  • Rakiura Great Walk, 3 days
  • Northwest Circuit, 10 - 12 days
  • Southern Circuit, 6 - 8 days

Marine Environment

Our marine life is truly wonderful in its diversity and richness, due to rich sub-Antarctic and sub-tropical currents mixing around our shores. The fairly intact forest and lack of any major industries and a tiny population mean that the water clarity is extremely high. Light filtering through provides the energy for over 260 seaweeds to grow and nourish the myriad of marine animals, including fish, molluscs, jelly fish, crustaceans. These in turn provide food for seals, dolphins, penguins, shorebirds and other seabirds. Whales are rarely seen, but do visit and travel past our shores at certain times of the year.


Booking Offices / Visitor Information Centers:

  • There are no "independent" information centres, booking offices or i-sites.  All booking offices are operator-owned including ours.
  • The Department of Conservation has a visitor centre for tracks information, hut bookings, hunting permits and conservation information.  They provide limited operator activity information by way of the local brochure.

For communication:

  • Mobile phone reception is available in Oban Village and some nearby surrounding areas
  • Public card phone
  • Free WiFi in and outside our library on Ayr Street
  • Most accommodation venues offer WiFI and telephone for local use
  • Post Office

Banks / ATM:

Most shops and booking offices accept credit card and eftpos.

  • There are no banks
  • There is an ATM at the grocery store for NZ credit cards

Other Public Facilities:

  • Museum
  • Community Centre (gymnasium, squash court, badminton, netball, basketball, table tennis).  Conference facility with fully equipment kitchen and function room.
  • Library
  • Presbyterian Church
  • Anglican Church
  • Bowling green - all weather
  • Golf course - 6 holes
  • Garage
  • Grocery store, outdoor shop and gift shops
  • Restaurants / cafes / takeaway

Medical / Police / Emergency Services:

  • Nurses clinic
  • Police station
  • Volunteer Fire Brigade