The Great Walk – Rakiura National Park
Welcome to Rakiura Stewart island.
What a journey it is to travel south to embark on this great walk.
Firstly you will need to get to Stewart Island in order to start this Great Walk, so I would recommend looking at booking your ferry to and from our 3rd largest island.
You can have a look here: www.realjourneys.co.nz/en/experiences/ferry-services/stewart-island-ferry-services/
Here are a few things to know before you go:
- It is possible to walk clockwise or anticlockwise.
- There are multiple campsites set up along the track.
- 2 Huts situated on the track: Port William & North Arm
Bookings are required before departure through the Department of Conservation.
- Hiking Boots
- Friends 🙂
- Food supplies for 3 days
- Battery pack
- Waterproof Jacket
- Change of clothes.
- Sunscreen + Sunhat + Sunglasses
- Water bottles at least 2L per person.
- Hutt or Campsite Pass: www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/southland/places/stewart-island-rakiura/rakiura-national-park/things-to-do/rakiura-track/
- Positive can-do attitude
Stepping from your front doorstep in Oban, you must make your way to the trailhead. I headed to Port William, there is roughly 5km of road to follow before the track begins or just 2km to get to the start of the track headed to North Arm. Some people consider using the Taxi service, Aurora cabs to make bookings for a transfer there, instead of walking these sections.
I did this track the traditional loop, staying the first night at Port William and the second night at North Arm hut, so that’s what I experienced and what I will share.
I was fortunate to get dropped off at Lee Bay, so I missed the first 5km of walking from Halfmoon bay (I work down here so a colleague dropped me off after work). There was just 8km of track to cover. This section is mostly an elevated coastal track that showcases these gorgeous coastal views. For me, it was by far the most rewarding part of the track and I would recommend taking your time on this section.
At Port William Hut there is a campsite and a Hut, these passes to stay here need to be booked in advance with the Department of Conservation:
Here you have space to cook under a roof with a fireplace and drinking water, although not treated, the water is useful for cooking, boiling then drinking. At the night it is popular to try kiwi spotting. These nocturnal birds feed at this time and they are heard calling after dark. Be aware that they are afraid of bright lights, so having a light with a red tint on it will give you a better chance to spot them.
The second day is a challenging one, roughly 13km with plenty of ups and downs crossing many muddy sections of the track. It would be best advised to give yourself plenty of time to do this section and take plenty of stops for snacks and water. Once you have arrived at the North Arm Hut, there you will find space to cook, use water and take off your pack. My advice would be to head down to the inlet where you will find a spot to dip your toes in the water. At night you will also have a chance to do some kiwi spotting and it would be silly to go to bed too early to miss out on the experience to see a Kiwi in the wild. So best to wait for darkness before heading out!
On the final day, I woke with a hungry stomach and I remember craving a strong coffee so I was out of North Arm very fast to get myself back to Oban, shower, and have a substantial meal. All in all, I was satisfied with the experience and felt a huge sense of achievement given I did this trip by myself.
I would recommend however going in groups, I feel sharing the good with the tough challenging experiences be far more rewarding than doing it by yourself, those are my thoughts anyhow!
For another fantastic walk please check out my post about the Te Henga walkway.
Or even this 3 day walk in the Egmont National Park in Taranaki:
Take care and kia kaha!