Why Stewart Island
- Stunning landscapes
- Off the beaten track
Nau Mai ki ataahua Rakiura
Welcome to beautiful Stewart Island.
5 reasons you should write this circuit on your Bucket list
1 – It’s absolutely stunning.
The landscapes are untouched and just mesmerizing. I had a great interest in completing this circuit as soon as I became aware of it, yet I was very unsure what these remote sections of this isolated island would look like. There were many pleasant surprises around the corners, also many unexpected obstacles. I recall being so stimulated by the scenery I was in awe, just staring and staring until I would need to look no more.
2 – It’s well off the beaten track.
It’s likely you will only see a handful of people on the circuit. There are not too many circuits in New Zealand that you can walk days and days without seeing a single other person. In 3 of the 5 nights, we had the hut to ourselves. Those other days we encountered hunters at the huts, that had chartered a helicopter from Invercargill with 10 days worth of supplies. We saw only 2 other hikers during our 6 days in the backcountry. I am sure I would not enjoy this experience doing it by myself that is for sure, with no one to share the highs and lows, I imagine would become deflated during the most testing of times without a friend to pick me up.
3 – It is incredibly challenging.
You will be tested every day. Not only are you walking with heavy backpacks with several days worth of food stuffed into every inch you can find inside, but you also must traverse tracks which has little maintenance and much rainfall. Some sections of this walk include boggy pits of mud. The depth of mud can very difficult to measure. Every day we were caked in mud, meaning we could not care less about getting that much muddier, and for these reasons we walked straight on through the middle of these sections. At times we would sink our legs in so deep, our knees would be at the surface of the mud pit. At the start of our trip, we had walking poles which were a fantastic tool for checking this depth. However, we met a roaring river crossing one day, and during the crossing, I slipped and let go of my pole which floated down the flowing stream. My mate Matt would later forget his pole following a rest break on the 4th day so we were left to our senses to guide our way through these uncertain stretches.
UNIQUE EXPERIENCES IN Stewart Island
4 – It is rewarding.
The viewpoints at the tops of these ridges and the huts at the end of the day make for moments of great joy. The fondest memories I had of this experience were slogging away in the bush for hours, crossing rivers, and climbing hills to then be treated to the most glorious viewpoint or even a clearing to a beach. We made sure we indulged in these moments and we would stop for a bite to eat or even a swim which gave us an incredible sense of adrenaline. Sitting down, taking in these views with a hot meal and a midday coffee was what made this experience like no other. You will not find more content and pleased people anywhere than those who only have what’s in front of them to worry about. Just the food in their packs, the companionship of each other, and the views to form such great memories. In addition to this, the DOC huts are set up in some extraordinary locations. They are simple yet, accomodating for these back-country hikers. Often wood stacked and chopped ready to be made into a fire for the next hikers upon arrival. The huts varied, some coastal, others at the peaks of hills, some large and spacious, others tight and cozy. Overall, the excitement of arriving in a new hut each day made for much anticipation during the hours of marching on these tough tracks.
5 – Time is irrelevant.
The only concept of time that really matters out there is the light you have in each day. Walking in the darkness proves to host many more uncertainties. The 6 days hiking we went with no cell phone coverage, 3G/wifi, or distractions from the outside world. We adapted to engage ourselves 100% in the world around us! It also pays to be mindful during various sections of the hike of the tides which can impact the beach crossings. The plan each day was to get up when we get like it, make breakfast, and get on our way. When we were hungry we ate. When we arrived at the hut, we made a fire and cooked dinner. When the sun set, we admired it. It was the simple pleasures that mattered. We also accompanied ourselves with some 6L of country wine which seemed to evaporate in the space of a few days. Nonetheless, the environment we found ourselves in was so stimulating that we never found ourselves bored or restless. Incredible!