THE END OF THE WORLD, WHERE EVERYTHING’S FINE
South of New Zealand’s South Island, 30 kilometers across the Foveaux Strait, you’ll find a small, friendly fishing town that bird lovers flock to. Stewart Island is known as New Zealand’s third island, and Oban, its only inhabited area, is also called Halfmoon Bay. The island has deep Māori roots. Its Māori name, Rakiura, means glowing skies, which seems appropriate given the area’s famous sunsets and the spectacular night-sky phenomenon aurora australis, the southern lights.
With a very small commercial sector—everything is within a few minutes’ walk—you won’t find much in terms of shopping. But you will find a warm welcome, some essentials, souvenirs, and The Fernery, an art and craft gallery. Stop into the South Sea Hotel, a classic New Zealand pub and the social center of the island, for a beer and cod and chips. Grab a fresh picnic snack from Stewart Island Smoked Salmon before hiking or “tramping” the Great Walk or one of the island’s many trails.
What you will find is a place of stunning natural beauty. A vista of pretty bays, sheltered coves, and lush vegetation. Make your way to nearby Ulva Island, a pristine forested island bird sanctuary. With no inhabitants (or predators), the island offers the opportunity to enjoy lovely beaches, beautiful views, and rare and endangered birds.
You’ll find plenty of active adventure here. Kayaking is the perfect way to explore the pristine waters and incredible marine life. See penguins, marine mammals and mollymawk (albatross). Cross the straight by catamaran. Spectacular warm currents and underwater forests are the ultimate diver's paradise. Embark on a fishing charter in search of blue cod or fish right off wharves and jetties for spotties, unique to these waters.