Stewart Island has become synonymous with kiwi spotting in the wild, something that is difficult to do on mainland New Zealand. Tours from Oban include kiwi spotting, but most people are keen to get to Mason Bay, on the west coast, where they stay overnight in the DOC hut and head out after dark in the hope of finding these elusive creatures. You’ll almost certainly hear them, and have a fair chance of seeing them provided you don’t go crashing about in the bush: just pick a spot and wait. Take a torch, but keep the beam pointed to the ground to avoid disturbing the birds.

For hardy visitors, the cheapest way to visit is to walk (38km one-way; 13–15hr) along the southern leg of the North West Circuit, probably staying overnight at Freshwater Hut. You can save a lot of time by catching a water taxi from Oban to Freshwater Landing Hut (40min) then walking to Mason Bay (15km; 3–4hr; flat but often flooded – check conditions before you head out).

Stewart Island Flights offer a “Coast to Coast” loop, flying from Oban to the beach at Mason Bay (not at high tide), staying a night or two there, walking to Freshwater Landing, then getting a water taxi back to Oban (or vice versa).

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
How to find the right New Zealand for you

How to find the right New Zealand for you

While it may not loom large on the world map, New Zealand feels incredibly vast and imposing on the ground, especially to those who try to visit the North and S…

23 May 2016 • Eric Grossman insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month