Stewart Island

What is Stewart Island like to visit?

Stewart Island

Stewart Island

Only an hour’s ferry ride from Bluff or a half hour small plane flight, brings you to one of the world’s truly hidden paradises. With stunning bays, inlets, golden sand beaches and densely forested hills, Stewart Island combines a spectacular mix of landscapes. 64 kilometres in length and 40 kilometres at its widest, the island boasts a miniscule population of just over 600 people. Its subsequent solitude has ensured its status as a haven for rare NZ birds. These include the Tui, Parakeet, Kaka, Bell bird, Robin, Dotterel, Fern bird and of course New Zealand's adorable treasure, the Kiwi. Other wildlife includes little blue Penguins, Deer and Possums.

Why is Stewart Island called Oban?

Oban is the only town on Stewart Island, the southernmost and smallest island of the three main islands of New Zealand ... Due to the strong influence the Scottish settlers had on early colonial southern New Zealand, Oban was named after Oban in Scotland (meaning “The Little Bay” in Scottish Gaelic).

Getting There 

Ferry (express catamaran)
One-hour crossing of the Foveaux Strait from Bluff to Halfmoon Bay on Stewart Island.  During the one-hour crossing, keep a lookout for wildlife including seals, dolphins and seabirds.   Coach transfers are available from Invercargill town centre and from Invercargill Airport to ferry departures in Bluff.  Read more on

Flights (small plane or helicopter)
20 minute flight from Invercargill Airport to Oban, Stewart Island.  Read more on


Some of the best and most diverse bird-watching in the world.
Walking Tracks
Easy and short day walks and family-friendly beach outings abound at Stewart Island.  If you want to explore further afield there are plenty of multi-day treks around the Island, some taking up to 12 days to complete.
Boat Trips
Lots of companies offer half or full day boat excursions, exploring wild coastline, bird watching and fishing.  This is a great opportunity for the kids to fish and their catch may be cooked on-board for you to taste on the spot!
Rakiura Kayaks are based in the calm waters of Halfmoon Bay.  As well as offering longer tours for the more experienced, they specialise in sit-on-top single and double kayaks that are great for families.  Instruction and gear provided, and the sheltered bay makes an excellent family adventure.
Land Trips
Gain an entertaining insight into the community, history and environment of Stewart Island as you explore Oban and surrounding bays. 
Rakiura Museum
Established and run by volunteers, the museum houses an extensive collection of items and photographs of Stewart Island's early history, including Maori settlement; muttonbirding; whaling; fishing; timber milling; mining; boat building; transport; schools and churches. Included in the exhibits is an extensive collection of Stewart Island shells and crustacea.


Family friendly accommodation is available on Stewart Island with plenty of choices. Options range from YHA owned accommodation to hosted, holiday homes and motels.   See Kidz Go Southland for options on Stewart Island and in Invercargill.

Map of New Zealand
  • Central Otago
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Coromandel
  • Dunedin
  • Gisborne
  • Fiordland
  • Hawkes Bay
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Manawatu
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Northland
  • North Canterbury
  • Rotorua
  • Queenstown
  • Taranaki
  • South Canterbury
  • Taupo
  • Southland
  • Waikato
  • Wanaka
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…


New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.


With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.


With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.


Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!


Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.