The Luxury Travel Guide to Stewart Island© Unsplash
The Luxury Travel Guide to Stewart Island

The Luxury Travel Guide to Stewart Island [2024]

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Plan a Luxury Getaway 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 travel guide to Stewart Island.

Luxury Tours on Stewart Island

  • See Stewart Island from the skies on a helicopter or fixed-wing flight (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
  • Enjoy a guided tour of Ulva Island (see Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook)
  • 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 Best Luxury Experiences on Stewart Island.

The Luxury Guide to Stewart Island© Stewart Island Helicopters

Flights to Stewart Island

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 (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) 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!

The Luxury Travel Guide to Stewart Island© Unsplash

Luxury Tours and Experiences

Once you’ve booked flights and found the ideal accommodation on Stewart Island (see Stewart Island Accommodation alongside this article on desktop or below on mobile), it’s time to complete your luxury trip to Stewart Island with some premium experiences.

Guided Tours of Ulva Island

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 that gives visitors a glimpse of what New Zealand used to be like before human settlement. Wander among the chorus of birdsong with colourful parakeets darting across the trees and kiwi birds roaming on the ground. Join RealNZ/Stewart Island Experiences (see Viator, Tripadvisor or Klook) 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.

Guided Nature Walks, Photography Tours and More

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 Best Luxury Activities on Stewart Island.

The Luxury Guide to Stewart Island© Pixabay

All-Weather Luxury Experiences

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!

Dive with Great White Sharks

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 with Shark Experience 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.

The Luxury Guide to Stewart Island© Church Hill Boutique Lodge & Restaurant

Fine Dining on 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.

More About Stewart Island

Want to discover more accommodations and experiences on Stewart Island? Be inspired by the following guides:

That’s it for the luxury travel guide to Stewart Island. Find even more tips to make your luxury getaway exceptional in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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