Must Do – Mason Bay, Stewart Island

Must Do – Mason Bay, Stewart Island

Kia ora,

Nau mai, haere mae ki Rakiura.

G’day & welcome to Stewart Island.

Located right beneath the South Island is where you will find a great place for adventure. Here on the 3rd largest island, Stewart Island/ Rakiura on is surrounded by nature, birdlife, and much flora & fauna. I am going to explain to you this wicked experience traveling to the west coast of this island roughly 40km from the tourist hub of Oban.

With so much to see around Oban, you may wonder why one would leave this quaint spot. Well, we humans are a curious bunch and this trip takes you far from any road and traffic lights. Personally, I had several recommendations from the locals to visit this primitive untouched nature that lies beyond the eye can see.

Here is what you need to prepare for this wicked experience.


  • Hiking Boots
  • Friends 🙂
  • Food supplies for 2 days
  • Battery pack
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Change of clothes.
  • Backpack
  • Sunscreen + Sunhat + Sunglasses
  • Water bottles at least 2L per person.
  • A positive can do attitude
  • Sleeping bag
  • Gas cannister to cook + Burner

Transport :

For this trip, you can either fly onto Mason Bay or take the water taxi to Fresh Water Hut at high tide.

I will talk more in detail about the experience that I had since I can better share these experiences with you.

To be clear I did not take the flight to Mason Bay from either Invercargill or Stewart Island, however, I heard from many people who did do it that it was an exceptional experience. I think you should consider this before you go. Here is the link to booking:

I chose the budget travelers option; I walked to Golden Bay with my ticket pre-booked and I took the water taxi. It was quite the adventure. On the water taxi, I traveled further west into Paterson Inlet headed towards these ominous mountains, then moving into a narrow river winding our way around these corners. This trip takes more time this way but it saves you some money. Here is the link below to book.

Once the boat stops off I got and traversed a swing bridge to arrive at the Fresh Water Hut. As I traveled there in the evening it made sense for me to spend the night at this hut. The walk to Mason Bay from Fresh Water Hut is roughly 4 hours for those reasons I did not walk through the night in darkness.

Fresh Water Hut to Mason Bay

When morning came, up I got, packed my bag, and was on the move to Mason Bay. With the sun shining and the birds chirping, all was good in the world. Fortunately, the rain was away doing its thing elsewhere and I was spoilt to bask in the glory of this beautiful day. With the arrival of the native Toutouwai/Stewart Island Robin, I felt welcome here. This guy followed me on the track for some time. It made for great entertainment during this walk. Contrarily to my experience, hikers must be warned that this track can be inundated with water and the forecast should always be checked before planning such a trip to this part of the island. My best advice is to consult with the Department of Conservation about the weather forecast, the up-to-date track conditions, and the status of the Mason Bay Hut.

Here are some more details about the two huts:

Mason Bay

Upon your arrival to the beach at Mason Bay you will stop first at the Hut before you see the ocean. This is your chance to take off your pack, find a bed, and rest… you’ve earned it! With only 10minutes on foot to travel to the beach, I would encourage you to spend some time soaking in these unforgettable views and even watch the sun slowly descend on the horizon. The forever flowing sand swept beachfront reminded me of the eastern coast of the North Island near Whangarei. Those mountains at Whangarei Heads have many similarities to this area. Now when you arrive here, you will hopefully have a calm day with little wind as I had, this made for so much joy and pleasure. As a hiker, you should be aware that the prevailing wind in this part of the country is the south westerly and it batters this coast on Stewart Island, so be prepared as it can get pretty rough quite quick over here.

For the evening there is a view point at the top of Sand Hill and here I would suggest watching the sunset. This walk would take 45 minutes to complete to reach the top. It is not well marked so best to speak with those at the hut who have done it first before you go yourself.

The next day you may wish to return. This means you can either fly out of Mason bay with a pre-booked flight ticket or return on the track to where you originally came from, Fresh Water Hut. There you can take a water taxi out. It is best to book this in advance.

I hope you have a great time. Take a friend and make a real day out of it!

For other great walks to do on Stewart Island please see my story on the Great 3-day walk in the Rakiura National Park!

Ka kite ano.


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