The Most Lavish Luxury Tours on Stewart Island
Looking for something beyond the ordinary? Make your experience on Stewart Island extra special, whether it’s by soaring over the rugged landscapes by helicopter or getting more out of the island’s flora and fauna via a guided tour. Flights, cruises and guided hikes are all on the agenda, while more relaxing experiences like indulging in Stewart Island cuisine can also be achieved on this remote island that’s technically a Subantarctic Island. Treat yourself to one of New Zealand’s most off-the-beaten-track destinations with these top luxury experiences on Stewart Island.
1. See Stewart Island from the Skies on a Helicopter or Fixed-wing Flight
Get your Stewart Island getaway off to the most awe-inspiring start with a scenic flight to the island. Swap the ferry for the skies, either from Bluff with Stewart Island Helicopters (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or from Invercargill with Stewart Island Flights. Stewart Island Helicopters also offer a range of scenic flights, with a duration from 30 minutes to two hours, where you can put your feet in the sand on the island’s most remote beaches and see the scenery of its multi-day hiking trails without traipsing through the mud.
Both Stewart Island Helicopters and Stewart Island Flights offer flights to Mason Bay, landing on the beach where you can experience an overnight hike back across the island. Who knows, you might even see a kiwi bird in the wild?!
Location: Flights with Stewart Island Flights depart from Invercargill Airport, 106 Airport Avenue, Invercargill or Ryans Creek Aerodrome, Airport Road, Oban. Flights with Stewart Island Helicopters depart from Ocean Beach Heliport, 250 Ocean Beach Road, Bluff or Fern Gully Heliport, 151 Main Road, Oban.
2. Enjoy a Guided Tour of Ulva Island
Speaking of kiwi birds in the wild, Stewart Island is one of the best places in New Zealand to see them and an abundance of other wildlife in their natural environment. A must is a guided tour of Ulva Island, a predator-free bird sanctuary that gives visitors a glimpse of what New Zealand used to be like before human settlement. Wander to the soundtrack of vibrant birdsong and the sight of colourful parakeets darting across the trees and kiwi birds roaming on the ground.
Join RealNZ (see Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook for more info) for their small-group guided experience with catamaran transport to Ulva Island. Alternatively, join Sails Ashore Lodge and their guided Ulva Island tour starting in the morning or afternoon with knowledgeable locals who used to be forest rangers. See more activities like this in our 10 Stewart Island Must-Dos.
Location: RealNZ tours depart from the Oban ferry terminal. Sails Ashore offer pick-ups from Oban accommodation or an arranged meeting point.
3. Explore Stewart Island via a Small-Group Bird Watching, Photography or Guided Hiking Tour
While the tour company Ruggedy Range also offers Ulva Island tours, they are also a good go-to for just about anything else on Stewart Island. Guided nature walks lasting half-day to overnight, scenic cruises and road tours, photography tours and dedicated kiwi-spotting and bird watching tours are all available with this eco-tour company. Experiences are typically small-group (or just your’s), providing a truly personalised experience of Stewart Island.
Location: 14 Main Road, Oban.
4. Dive with Great White Sharks
Stewart Island is also home to a unique experience as the only location in New Zealand where you can do shark cage diving, not only with an array of shark species but with the mightiest of all, the great white shark! With diving tuition and surface air supply regulators, you’ll be dipped underwater in a special shark viewing platform where you’ll come eye-to-eye with some of the world’s most majestic apex predators. Tours with Shark Experience also include a scenic cruise around the Titi Islands where it’s possible to spot seals and seabirds.
Location: 64 Gore Street, Bluff.
5. Be Treated to a Scenic Cruise
Another way to explore Stewart Island is from the water aboard one of its fantastic scenic cruises. For instance, Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi offer an array of tour options from their two modern custom-built vessels with enclosed heated cabins, covered decks and lounge-style seating. Whether your interest is exploring Ulva Island and its surrounding waters, spotting large pelagic seabirds or land birds, learning about Stewart Island’s aquaculture industries or the history of a whaler’s base, witnessing the diverse scenery of the Freshwater River, or something else, the team will have something to suit.
Alternatively, cruises are available with Aihe Eco Charters & Water Taxi, Aurora Charters, Bravo Adventure Cruises, Rakiura Adventure and Tequila Fishing and Bird Watching Charters. See more experiences like this in the 10 Things to Do on Stewart Island with Kids.
Location: The departure location is organised with the operator.
6. Indulge in the Fine Cuisine of the South
Yes, even on the Subantarctic Island of Stewart Island, you’ll find fine dining. Book a table at Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant for their three-course dining experience in their restaurant exclusively taking eight people per evening. Their story starts and ends with “homemade”, using only local fish, muttonbird, crayfish, etc. from the island and produce from the Southland region.
Alternatively, bring gourmet dining to you with the Stewart Island Moveable Feast provided by Observation Rock Lodge. Whether you’re staying at the luxury lodge or elsewhere, the team will spruce up and present gorgeous spreads of fresh and local fare from the garden and surrounding waters. See more activities like this in The Honeymoon Guide to Stewart Island.
Location: Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant – 36 Kamahi Road, Oban. Observation Rock Lodge – 7 Leonard Street, Oban or delivery is available.
More Luxury Experiences in Stewart Island
Need more luxury experiences on Stewart Island? While not as lavish as mentioned above, the following guides might lead you to your perfect experience.
- 10 Incredible Things to Do on Stewart Island
- 10 Romantic Activities on Stewart Island for Couples
- The Complete Guide to Stewart Island
That’s it for the best luxury activities on Stewart Island. Find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand.