All-weather and Indoor Activities on Stewart Island
Stewart Island is known to have its fair share of rainy days, as anyone who has traipsed on the muddy hiking trails will tell you! Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that the fun has to come to a standstill, as the island has a good selection of all-weather and indoor activities to keep you occupied. Check them out in this list of things to do on Stewart Island on a rainy day.
1. Check Out the Rakiura Museum
Even on the remote Stewart Island, you’ll find a museum to beat the rainy-day blues! The Rakiura Museum is set in striking contemporary architecture, which ironically houses some of the island’s oldest relics from its history of Maori settlers, muttonbirding, mining, timber milling, boat building, fishing and much more. Note that the museum as a small admission fee. See more experiences like this in the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Stewart Island.
Location: 11 Main Road, Oban.
2. Watch “A Local’s Tail” at the Bunkhouse Theatre
Offering a more innovative way to learn about Stewart Island’s history, as well as today’s island culture, the Bunkhouse Theatre has showings of its own production called “A Local’s Tail”. While this boutique cinema has showings for independent films from time to time, the cinema is most famous for one film in particular. A Local’s Tail is a 40-minute film about Stewart Island from the perspective of Lola the Dog. We know it sounds weird, but just trust us; go and see it!
Location: 10 Main Road, Oban.
3. Carve a Greenstone Pendant
Make your stay on Stewart Island extra memorable by carving your own unique greenstone pendant. Join Rakiura Jade for a day of cutting, carving and polishing a genuine greenstone/jade/pounamu pendant with the guidance of master carver, Dave Goodin. The experience itself is a relaxing one, creating a memorable piece of jewellery from a waterfront workshop with gorgeous views of Halfmoon Bay. It’s an activity that we also feature in the 10 Romantic Activities on Stewart Island for Couples.
Location: 45 Elgin Terrace, Oban.
4. Check Out The Department of Conservation Visitor Centre
While a visitor centre doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing, The Department of Conservation Visitor Centre on Stewart Island is actually pretty cool. After walking through the entrance with an impressive Maori carving, you can wander around a small museum exhibition and sit down on a comfy couch to watch short documentaries about Stewart Island’s natural history, flora and fauna. There’s also a mock-up of an old ranger’s hut complete with bunks, cooking equipment and old boots.
Location: 15 Main Road, Oban.
5. See Stewart Island’s Highlights on a Driving Tour
On a rainy day, it may be better to see Stewart Island’s sights from the comfort of a tour vehicle. Get an entertaining insight into the history, environment, wildlife and today’s culture on the island on guided driving tours with Real Journeys (Stewart Island Experience), Sails Ashore, Island Explorer, Aurora Cab Co. and Ruggedy Range. Tours usually last approximately two hours.
Location: Pick-ups available from local accommodations and the ferry terminal.
6. Dive with Great White Sharks
As long as the sea conditions are suitable, the rain will be the last thing on your mind when doing a shark dive! That’s right, Stewart Island is home to a unique experience as the only location in New Zealand where you can do shark cage diving. Not only can you dive with an array of shark species but with the mightiest of all, the great white shark! The experience includes diving tuition to use the surface air supply regulators, which you’ll breathe through while being dipped underwater in a special shark-viewing platform. Tours also include a scenic cruise around the Titi Islands where it’s possible to spot seals and pelagic seabirds.
Location: 64 Gore Street, Bluff.
7. Try Some Super Fresh Fish and Chips…
Make a rainy day on Stewart Island the day that you try its famous fish and chips! A popular chippy choice is the Kai Kart, serving good old-fashioned fish and chips takeaways (sometimes wrapped in newspaper) which you can eat in their cosy trailer if it’s raining. Check their irregular opening hours, however, which change with the seasons. Alternatively, the South Sea Hotel offers comfortable indoor dining along with your fresh blue cod and chips.
Location: Kai Kart – 7 Ayr Street, Oban. South Sea Hotel – 26 Elgin Terrace, Oban.
8. … Or Treat Yourself to Stewart Island’s Fine Dining
If you prefer something a bit more fancy, Stewart Island can still provide! Book a table at Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant for their three-course dining experience in their restaurant taking just eight customers per evening. Indulge in local fish, muttonbird, crayfish, etc. from the island and produce from the Southland region. Alternatively, the Stewart Island Moveable Feast provided by Observation Rock Lodge brings gourmet dining to you. Whether you’re staying at their luxury lodge or elsewhere, the team cooks and presents gorgeous spreads of fresh and local fare from the garden and surrounding waters.
Location: Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant – 36 Kamahi Road, Oban. Observation Rock Lodge – 7 Leonard Street, Oban or delivery is available.
9. Hire a DVD or a Book
Stewart Island is a little old-school when it comes to some forms of entertainment, which is evident in its DVD rentals! That’s right, you can rent DVDs from the Four Square supermarket or the local library. They also rent out portable DVD players but you’ll find that many of the accommodations here have one. Alternatively, the Library is also an obvious go-to for books, open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 12pm, Wednesday from 2pm to 4pm, and Saturday from 11am to 12pm.
Location: Four Square – 20 Elgin Terrace. Library – 10 Ayr Street, Oban.
10. Watch New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year!
Finally, if all else fails, you can always get some inspiration for your next epic New Zealand activity by watching New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year on YouTube! Watch as the team from NZ Pocket Guide take on 365 Days: 365 Activities in New Zealand. Make sure to subscribe.