The Third Largest Island

When did we first hear about Stewart Island, the third largest island of New Zealand south of the South Island?  What was it we read about the island that made us so want to visit?  Researching in preparation for a trip turned up very little: a handful of places to stay and even fewer places to eat, but we found some information on hiking trails.  We thought a search for other bloggers’ recent accounts might be helpful, but, again, we found pitifully few posts.  We concluded that a trip to Stewart Island would probably be fascinating for hiking and bird watching and boring for any down time in the tiny town of Oban (population less than 380).  Down days seemed certain, because we anticipated several rain days during our visit.

We repacked our bags to comply with the 15 kg weight restriction for flying to Oban from Invercargill on a two-engine prop plane holding nine passengers.  The airline held our extra bags for pickup when we flew back.

Our brief flight provided great views of the shoreline leaving the South Island and of the shoreline approaching Stewart Island.  The flight was routine, although the seating was tight.  On our arrival, an airline van took us from the airstrip to Oban, and we walked, with our bags, the block to the South Sea Island Hotel, facing the scenic bay and wharf.

hiking day from Horseshoe Bay to Oban

We checked in, found our rooms, dumped our bags, and took off for a walk up the road towards the Moturau Moana Gardens.  Few cars travel this road and many birds can be seen and heard in the woods lining the way. As we passed by, a kereru, the endemic New Zealand pigeon, looked out majestically.

NZ pigeon - endemic NZ bird


Walking back towards Oban, we spotted a New Zealand kaka in the fading light of the late afternoon.

Kaka - endemic NZ bird

With only 3 restaurants in Oban from which to choose, we prepared ourselves to be disappointed with the food.  Dining turned out to be better than expected.  We concentrated on seafood choices since – after all – we were on an island.


Green-lipped mussels

Every day turned out to be – surprise – either sunny or partly cloudy, so we spent our days hiking, stopping at beaches, and exploring the island.




Oban reminded us of a smaller version of Portwenn, the fictional town in the “Doc Martin” British TV series – scenic, charming, maybe a little smaller, and a very good place for nearby hiking and watching the seaside.  We had no down days on Stewart Island, and, even had it rained one of the days, we would have enjoyed our stay.

February 2014

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Around-the World - 2013-14, New Zealand and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Third Largest Island

  1. Pingback: A look back | simpletravelourway

  2. icelandpenny says:

    Oh, I do love islands. Thanks for sharing this one with us, and bravo for such splendid photography

    • Glad you enjoyed it, and you are welcome. Thanks, also, for your compliment on our photography (mostly Beth’s, though occasionally one of my iPhone pics is used). We think that we first “met” on WordPress because of another island, Iceland — still our scenic and hiking favorite. Right?

      • icelandpenny says:

        That’s right! good memory… My own immediate island objective is to visit Toronto Island in winter, going over on the ferry crunching through ice, then walk around the communities and back. Later in spring, I have other, more ambitious plans. You’ll see! (I’m too superstitious to name them now and risk jinxing them. Silly.)

  3. We leave for our New Zealand adventure on Monday. Thanks for your posts. We won’t be going to Stewart Island, although you make me wish we were.

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