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Although not technically on the Southern Scenic Route, Stewart Island is readily accessible by either air from Invercargill (20 minutes), or ferry from Bluff (60 minutes) and is a popular destinationfor visitors to the southern regions of New Zealand.
Rakiura, the Maori name for Stewart Island translated as "glowing skies", is the perfect description for this idyllic hideaway, being famous for its beautiful sunsets and display of the southern lights. The rugged landscape of Stewart Island is largely influenced by the weather and creates an atmosphere that is rough, dramatic, unforgiving, but also beautiful and serene. It is this atmosphere that draws us to Stewart Island, appealing to the adventurous and also to the naturalist.
Paterson Inlet Cruises, Ulva IslandStewart Island's original name, Te Punga O Te Waka a Maui, can be translated as "The Anchorstone of Maui's Canoe". Maori mythology tells that Stewart Island was the anchor for Maui's canoe (which was the South Island) while Maui caught and raised the great fish, that is the North Island. It's present name came from first officer William Stewart who charted it's southern coasts when he pulled into the port that is now called Port Pegasus in the ship Pegasus in 1809. It has also been called Motonui ('large island') in earlier times. The total area of Stewart Island is 172 square kilometres and has a single small town, Oban, at Halfmoon Bay.
Stewart Island Ferry ServicesNow a National Park, Stewart Island has plenty to offer, from scenic day walks to adventurous kayaking trips. There is an abundance of fishing opportunities and even a golf course at RingaRinga Heights, the southernmost golf course in New Zealand. Rakiura's history includes whaling, sealing, timbermilling, fishing and tin mining and can be explored via your experiences on the island or for an intensive look, visit the Rakiura Museum in Halfmoon Bay and gain some inside knowledge on how Stewart Island came to be what it is today.
Fishing, aquaculture and tourism are the main activities on Stewart Island today. Stewart Island is home to a huge diversity of birds such as the South Island Kaka, weka, robin and fernbird, including many rare and endangered birds. The Island is also home to many fish, lizards and invertebrates, some
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