There is Down Under then there is well and truly Down Under when on Stewart Island. This is New Zealand’s third and most southern populated island. New Zealand’s landscapes change once again on the island and it is known for having a decent kiwi and penguin population. Guess how close I came to seeing such birds?
With the limited time and limited knowledge upon entering Stewart Island, I missed any opportunity to see penguins and kiwis. Just a heads up, penguins waddle onto the wharf of Oban, Stewart Island’s only township, at night!
I quickly got over my lack of penguin cuddling because walking along Stewart Island’s coast appeared to look like a tropical paradise. The colours of the sea were so inviting, I had to remind myself the island is as close to Antarctica as one can get and it was the dead of winter.
What to do in 24 hours?
My short stay on Stewart Island consisted of eating blue cod fish n’ chips (or as Kiwis say fush n’ chups). Just because fishing is a big deal between Bluff, South Island and Oban, Stewart Island, so fish is as fresh as can be. South Sea Hotel, our place of residence for the night, is also a pub with delicious seafood meals.
After a seafood pig-out, I retired to the South Sea Hotel’s lounge to watch Shortland Street with a fellow Stray bus member. Shortland Street is an NZ soap opera full of pure cringe. I would have not been educated in this cultural experience if there had been something else to do in the late evening on Stewart Island. Turns out I could have seen penguins instead but I will try and not let that get to me. On the bright side I saw these fellas the next day:
After a quick game of giant chess on the wharf, quick because I lost, my Stray buddies and I went on a walk along the coast east of Oban. It was a 2 hour walk to Horseshoe Bay along the coastal walking track and about 45 minutes return via the road.
The walk was magical to eyes.
Coming back to Oban, the noticeboard by the Four Square supermarket really showed a sense of community within this small town. People had even pinned lost property to the board.
With a tiny bit more time before the return ferry (ferries only run three times a day), we headed west of Oban.
Admittedly, this is the image from the ferry terminal when we arrived. But I am just going to place it at the end of the article to depict the end of my Stewart Island journey, Ok?
Little is marketed about this third New Zealand island, so it was never on my NZ wishlist. Nevertheless, I am so pleased I got to see this beautiful place even if it was just for a short while. Ideally, more time to explore the Rakiura National Park, which makes up about 85 per cent of the island, would have been just what I needed to fully appreciate the island. Surely I would have seen a penguin then? Anyway, enough with the penguins.