The Most Romantic Activities on Stewart Island
Experience an island escape with a difference. Stewart Island might be classed as a Subantarctic Island but as your eyes lay on the golden sand and turquoise waters, you’ll be forgiven for thinking you were in some tropical paradise. This paradise also happens to have some of the clearest skies for stargazing in the world, as well as a habitat for unique wildlife including the elusive kiwi bird. Find out how you can experience Stewart Island with your loved one with this list of romantic things to do on Stewart Island for couples.
For more romantic activities, as well as places to stay, take a look at The Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Stewart Island and the 10 Best Romantic Accommodations on Stewart Island.
1. Join the Love Birds on Ulva Island
A pest-free sanctuary just a 10-minute boat ride from Golden Bay, Ulva Island is like stepping back in time to a land where birds reign. You can either take one of the many ferry options and independently explore the island or join a guided tour to enhance the experience with more island insights. RealNZ (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and Klook) offers guided tours on the island including a cruise showcasing hidden coves and unspoiled beaches. Other guided experiences are available with Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi, Beaks and Feathers, Ruggedy Range, Sails Ashore and Ulva’s Guided Walks.
Location: Most ferries depart from Golden Bay, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Oban. Real Journeys’ guided tours depart from the Oban ferry terminal.
2. Take on the Challenge of a Multi-day Hike Together
The Rakiura National Park, which covers a whopping 80% of the island, is best explored on the myriad of multi-day hiking trails. It’s the ultimate adventure together, trekking from secluded beaches to windswept forests where spotting a kiwi bird is not uncommon. One of the multi-day hikes is the Rakiura Track, a three-day loop that is classed as a New Zealand Great Walk incorporating beach, bush and historical sites. Learn more about the multi-day hikes in the 10 Best Things to Do in Rakiura National Park.
Location: Rakiura Track – Starts from Fern Gully car park, Main Road, approximately 2km (1.2 miles) from Oban.
3. Enjoy an Intimate Scenic Flight…
How about soaring the skies with remote beach landings with Stewart Island Helicopters (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or Stewart Island Flights? Only from the skies can you truly feast on the majesty of the island’s labyrinth of inlets and waterways. It doesn’t take long to cross the island and land on one of the remote beaches, even in a plane that uses the sand as a runway. Either take a scenic tour with Stewart Island Helicopters, who offer half-day and full-day experiences, or use Stewart Island Flights as transport for some of the multi-day hikes. See similar experiences to these in the 6 Best Luxury Experiences on Stewart Island.
Location: Stewart Island Flights depart from Invercargill Airport, 106 Airport Avenue, Invercargill and Ryans Creek Aerodrom, Airport Road, Oban. Stewart Island Helicopters depart from Ocean Beach Heliport, 250 Ocean Beach Road, Bluff and Fern Gully Heliport, 151 Main Road, Oban.
4. … Or a Small-Group Cruise
Alternatively, enjoy an intimate boat excursion where you’ll either be a couple of only a few guests or even have the whole cruise to yourselves. Sail across the ever-changing scenery of the Freshwater River with Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi or Rakiura Adventure, look out for pelagic seabirds and marine mammals with Aihe Eco Charters & Water Taxi, or relax with a sunset cruise along with BYO drink and food on the Ranui with Rakiura Adventure.
Location: Departures arranged with the operator.
5. Stargaze from an International Dark Sky Sanctuary
The second island in the world to be awarded Dark Sky Sanctuary status, Stewart Island has exceptional air quality where the skies are safeguarded to preserve its vividly clear night’s sky. Not only does Stewart Island have breathtaking displays of the Milky Way and distant galaxies, but it’s also one of the best places in New Zealand to witness the Southern Lights, a.k.a. Aurora Australis. Stargazing just about anywhere on Stewart Island rewards visitors with beautiful stars on a clear night, but especially from the secluded huts of the Rakiura National Park.
Location: All over Stewart Island.
6. Carve a Greenstone Pendant for Each Other
Make your stay on Stewart Island extra memorable with a greenstone carving workshop. Join Rakiura Jade for a day of cutting, carving and polishing a genuine greenstone pendant for each other, following the Maori tradition of only carving greenstone to gift to someone. With the guidance of master carver, Dave Goodin, you’ll enjoy a relaxing day creating a memorable piece of jewellery from a waterfront workshop with gorgeous views of Halfmoon Bay.
Location: 45 Elgin Terrace, Oban.
7. Explore the Coast by Double-Kayak
Nothing strengthens the bond quite like working together to paddle a sea kayak. Do it in one of the most pristine locations in New Zealand along the golden-sand bays, deep-forested inlets and beautifully rugged coastline of Stewart Island. Join Phil’s Sea Kayak for a paddle on the crystal clear waters. Tours range from 2h30mins, either in the day or at golden hour, to 8h30min tours that traverse the scenic Paterson Inlet.
Location: Watercress Bay, approximately 1km (0.6 miles) from Oban. Pick-ups are offered by the operator.
8. Go for a Romantic Stroll on the Beach
There’s plenty of places to go for a romantic stroll on Stewart Island, especially across its gorgeous golden-sand beaches and hidden inlets. A favourite of ours is Bathing Beach, a beach accessible on a mere 15-minute walk from Oban. Alternatively, make more of a mission out of it by following the coast from Oban to Lee Bay, taking 5-6 hours for the return journey discovering an array of beautiful coves and beaches. Check out the walk description in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Stewart Island.
Location: Bathing Beach – Access off Kamahi Road, Oban.
9. Relax at Stewart Island’s Boutique Cinema
A romantic way to spend an evening or at least kill 45 minutes in Oban is by going to the cinema. That’s right, even the tiny settlement of Oban has its own cinema, but it’s one with a difference… The Bunkhouse Theatre is a boutique cinema that may show independent films, but it is most famous for its own production, “A Local’s Tail”. Watch the story of Stewart Island’s history and local culture from the perspective of one of the island’s most adorable residents, Lola the Dog. Cosy up in the cinema room with fresh warm popcorn while snuggling under a blanket. What’s more, this activity makes up one of the 10 Things to Do on Stewart Island on a Rainy Day.
Location: 10 Main Road, Oban.
10. Indulge in a Stewart Island Feast
While most wouldn’t think to come to Stewart Island for the cuisine, many are surprised to find there is a small dining scene with a couple of romantic offerings that rival that of New Zealand’s largest towns! For instance, Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant offers a boutique dining experience with exclusively eight guests per evening. Indulge in the freshest and most local fare in a delectable three-course meal.
With Stewart Island Moveable Feast provided by Observation Rock Lodge, a romantic dining experience can be brought to you! Finally, for a more down-to-earth experience, we have to mention the South Sea Hotel, which is essentially the local pub. It’s a fun place to people-watch while indulging in some local dishes, such as Stewart Island blue cod, a trio of Stewart Island-farmed salmon, Stewart Island crayfish and Southland venison.
Location: Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant – 36 Kamahi Road, Oban. Observation Rock Lodge – 7 Leonard Street, Oban or delivery is available. South Sea Hotel – 26 Elgin Terrace, Oban.
More Romantic Things to Do on Stewart Island
That’s it for our list of the most romantic things to do on Stewart Island for couples. There are still some amazing experiences that don’t necessarily fall under the “romantic category”, which you can check out in the following articles:
- 10 Incredible Things to Do on Stewart Island
- The Travel Guide to Stewart Island on a Budget
- The Luxury Travel Guide to Stewart Island
By the time you’ve reached Stewart Island, you’ve probably got grip on organising a romantic trip in New Zealand but if you need more advice, check out The Honeymoon Guide to New Zealand.