Plan a Luxury Trip to Stewart Island
Escape to a different kind of “island life”, the southernmost populated island of New Zealand, just in the bracket of being a Subantarctic Island. It’s a place where wildlife thrives with pest-free sanctuaries and around 80% of the island is a national park. Rakiura National Park is named after the Maori name for Stewart Island, meaning “glowing skies” in reference to the vivid displays of the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) and of the Milky Way seen from its dark skies away from artificial light pollution.
Despite its remoteness, Stewart Island remarkably offers premium accommodation and experiences, from boutique lodges to spectacular helicopter flights. Plan your island getaway with this luxury guide to Stewart Island.
Premium Activities on Stewart Island
- See Stewart Island from the skies on a helicopter or fixed-wing flight
- Enjoy a guided tour of Ulva Island
- Explore Stewart Island via a small-group bird watching, photography or guided hiking tour
- Dive with great white sharks
- Be treated to a scenic cruise
- Indulge in fine local cuisine.
For more details on each experience, see the 6 Luxury Activities on Stewart Island.
Luxury Adventure Activities
The adventure could start with simply getting to Stewart Island. How about on a breathtaking journey by helicopter or fixed-wing flight? Swap the ferry for the skies, either from Bluff with Stewart Island Helicopters or from Invercargill with Stewart Island Flights. To make it more of an experience rather than a journey, Stewart Island Helicopters offers a variety of scenic flights ranging 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 hiking in 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. Chances are, you’ll spot a kiwi bird or two along the way!
Speaking of kiwi birds, Stewart Island is one of the best places in New Zealand to see an abundance of wildlife in their natural element. A must is a guided tour of Ulva Island, a predator-free bird sanctuary which gives visitors a glimpse of what New Zealand used to be like before human settlement. Wander among the chorus of birdsong with colourful parakeet darting across the trees and kiwi birds roaming on the ground. Join Real Journeys (Stewart Island Experiences) for their small-group guided experience with catamaran transport to Ulva Island. Alternatively, Sails Ashore Lodge offers an Ulva Island tour, starting in the morning or afternoon, with knowledgeable locals who used to be forest rangers.
Finally, while 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 group), providing a truly personalised experience of Stewart Island.
To learn more about Stewart Island’s other premium experiences, like scenic cruises, take a look at the 6 Luxury Activities on Stewart Island.
All-weather Luxury Activities
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!
As long as sea conditions are safe, diving with great white sharks is a fun all-weather activity and bucket list experience. 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 also include a scenic cruise around the Titi Islands where it’s possible to spot seals and seabirds.
For more rainy day alternatives, check out the 10 Things to Do on Stewart Island on a Rainy Day.
Fine Dining in Stewart Island
Yes, even on the Subantarctic Island of Stewart Island, you’ll find fine dining. Join 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. Dinners are complemented with fresh homemade bread for the table and tea or coffee to finish.
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.