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Rakiura National Park

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Rakiura National Park opened in 2002 and is the 14th of New Zealand's national parks. The park covers about 157,000 hectares and makes up about 85 percent of Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Address: 12 Elgin Terrace, Stewart Island, New Zealand Invercargill & Southland

Phone: view phone+64 3 219 0009



Rakiura National Park encompasses a network of former nature reserves, scenic reserves, and state forest areas. Although the island lies only 30 kilometres south west of Bluff, between latitudes 46 and 47 degrees south, it could well be in another part of the world. The sunrises and sunsets in soft southern light are amazing. Visitors can explore pristine beaches, sheltered inlets, and coastal forest, and see seals, penguins, kiwi, weka and many other birds. There are also opportunities for hunting, fishing, boating, cruises and scenic flights. From the South Island Stewart Island/Rakiura can be seen on most days as a mysterious jagged, dark blue lump on the horizon. When the weather drives in from the Southern Ocean the island disappears behind low cloud and grey sheets of cold rain. On clear summer days the island seems very close and shines an inviting blue-green, topped by rocky mountain peaks. To the north is often stormy Foveaux Strait and the South Island, to the east, west and south lies the endless tracts of unforgiving Southern Ocean. Sea-pounded cliffs and sandy beaches make up the western coast while on the eastern side of the island there are three sheltered inlets. Paterson Inlet, with a 160 km shoreline, is the largest. The other two are Port Adventure and Port Pegasus. From the head of Paterson Inlet the Freshwater Valley extends westwards dividing the northern rangelands and the high country to the south. The highest peak is in the north, Mt Anglem/Hananui at 980 metres. On the western side, Mason Bay\\\\\\\'s sprawling, soaring dunes form another impressive landform and towards the centre of the island are the expansive Freshwater wetlands. The jagged skyline of the Ruggedy Mountains of the north-west corner contrast with the smooth outline of Mt. Anglem with its twin lakes, a hint of a glacial past. The rivers and streams run brown with forest tannin. The northern half of the island is covered by podocarp and hardwood forest, featuring New Zealand\\\\\\\'s southernmost tall trees - rimu, kahikatea and t?tara. The remaining areas of the island feature shrubland or low forest, grassland, wetland, alpine herbfield/ cushionfield, and coastal or duneland communities. Rakiura is the M?ori name for Stewart Island. It is translated as \\\\\\\'The Land of Glowing Skies\\\\\\\' and probably refers as much to the night-time displays of Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights, as to the sunsets. The island has had at least two other M?ori names. Te Puka a te Waka a Maui, \\\\\\\'The Anchor of Maui\\\\\\\'s Canoe\\\\\\\', a reference to the tradition of Maui\\\\\\\'s discovery of New Zealand and his use of the South Island as a canoe or platform by which he fished up the North Island. Stewart Island anchored his canoe. The island was also known in early times as Motunui or Large Island. The island is about 75 km long and up to 45 km wide. People here are a little less hurried, much more friendly and a great deal more self-reliant than people in most other places. The little community of 400 or so permanent residents in the only settlement, Oban in Halfmoon Bay has a school, a quaint hotel, two small churches overlooking the harbour, good shops for basic necessities, a DOC visitor centre and a number of tourist services. The community centre houses a library and an indoor sports stadium. Many residents are direct descendants of the whalers and early Rakiura M?ori, with combined family histories reaching back almost 200 years. Some of the houses built by the early Norwegian whalers are still lived in today, their distinctive alpine architecture somehow no longer out of place in the Roaring Forties of the Southern Ocean. Wildlife Native birds that may be seen during these walks include parakeet/k?k?riki, native wood pigeon/kerer?, t??, bellbird/korimako, tomtit/miromiro, weka, robin/kakaruai, and fernbird/m?t?, as well as a significant population of South Island k?k?. The island\\\\\\\'s kiwi population is also special. Known now as southern tokoeka, the Stewart Island/Rakiura kiwi behave rather differently to kiwi in other parts of New Zealand. They maintain family groups, for example, and some birds feed during daylight hours. Stewart Island/Rakiura offers perhaps the best opportunity anywhere in New Zealand for viewing kiwi in the wild. The island was the final stronghold for the flightless, nocturnal parrot/k?k?p?, which had all but disappeared from the mainland under pressure from stoats and other predators leaving less than a hundred birds in Fiordland and Stewart Island/Rakiura. The last 60 or so birds were relocated to nearby Whenua Hou or Codfish Island which is now a nature reserve supporting other endangered species. This pest-free island is excluded from the park, as is all M?ori land, freehold land and the foreshore. White-tailed and red deer, cats, and rats introduced in the early 1900s, together with possums, have had an impact on the forest, shrublands, herbfields and native fauna. Tracks and walks With only 25 km of roads, Stewart Island/Rakiura is a paradise for walkers and trampers. It has about 245 km of walking tracks, all of which can be accessed from the town of Oban. The tracks range from undemanding short walks around the township area to remote-experience tramping tracks that require fitness, stamina, and a large degree of self-reliance.


Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island, New Zealand

Rakiura National Park Visitor
12 Elgin Terrace, Halfmoon Bay, Stewart Island

Photo Gallery

Rakiura National Park

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