Guide to Hiking the Rakiura Track in New Zealand

Guide to the Rakiura Track in New Zealand

The Rakiura Track is a short rugged coastal track on Stewart Island. Just off the southernmost point of the South Island in New Zealand. The Rakiura is a perfect year-round hike with little crowds and covers desolate beaches, scenic coastline, and several abandoned lumber mills.

Stewart Island is full of wildlife, and the best opportunity in New Zealand to see an elusive Kiwi. Get ready for a three-day island adventure and as the Rakiura Track is one of the world’s International Dark Sky Sanctuaries, enjoy some amazing star-gazing.

Rakiura Track Great Walk
The Rakiura Track. Photo by Sander Ezendam and Jolien Hendriksen at www.nosprinkles.com ©

Content and photographs provided by Yana Kogan and Timon.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).


Guide to the Rakiura Track in New Zealand

Getting There

Rakiura Track Hike New Zealand: Stewart Island

Located off the coast from Bluff on the South Island, Stewart Island is accessible by ferry or small plane. Stewart Island is a rugged island known for many birds as well as the best opportunity to witness the southern lights (aurora australis) during the winter months.


Best Season to Visit

The Rakiura Track is open year-round. The peak season is during the summer, however, it does not get fully booked very often.


How Many Days to Stay

Rakiura Track Hike New Zealand: Stewart Island
Stewart Island beaches. Photo by Sander Ezendam and Jolien Hendriksen at www.nosprinkles.com ©

The Rakiura Track is typically a two or three-day hike. While the distance is easy for two days, due to ferry dropoff/pickup times, many do the walk in three days. For more details on hut locations, distances and maps, check out the DOC website for the Rakiura Track.


How to Book

You can book in advance the huts and tent camping. During the Great Walks season, the hut fees are $56 per person per night and the campsites cost $24 per person per night. Off-season, camping costs are $5 per person per night. Book online at the DOC’s website.


Booking Transportation

Rakiura Track Great Walk: Terminal

To get to Stewart Island, there is an option for a 20-minute flight from Invercargill or a one-hour ferry from the port of Bluff.  Book a flight starting at $115 for a one-way ticket with Stewart Island Flights or take the ferry with Stewart Island Ferry for $85 per person one-way.


Our Experience Hiking the Rakiura Track

Distance

Hiking The Rakiura Track
Walking along the Rakiura. Photo by Sander Ezendam and Jolien Hendriksen at www.nosprinkles.com ©

Distance: 20 miles / 32.1 kilometers
Time: 3 Days (9-11 hours)
Route: The Rakiura Track is circular, so you can start your hike in either direction. Below we show you the route we took from Lee Bay towards Maori Beach.


Day 1: Lee Bay to Port William Hut

Rakiura Track Hike NZ: Mill Factory Machine
Mill factory machines. Photo by Sander Ezendam and Jolien Hendriksen at www.nosprinkles.com ©

The walk begins at Lee Bay (5 km from Oban) with coastal views and a beach walk at Maori Beach. There is a small climb through the coastal forest before dropping down into Magnetic Beach and to Port William Hut.

Distance: 5 miles / 8.1 kilometers
Time: 2-3 hours


Day 2: Port William Hut to North Arm Hut

Rakiura Track Great Walk: Camping
Tent Camping on the Rakiura. Photo by Sander Ezendam and Jolien Hendriksen at www.nosprinkles.com ©

The trail heads inland through lush coastal forest and some regenerating forest with a small climb to North Arm Hut.

Distance: 8.1 miles / 13 kilometers
Time: 4 hours


Day 3: North Arm Hut to Fern Gully

Rakiura Track Hike New Zealand: Fern Gully

The final day comes with beautiful views of the rugged coastline. The trail descends to the coast passing several secluded bays and abandoned historic mills. The track continues along the coast to Fern Gully, just 2 km from Oban.

Distance: 6.8 miles / 11 kilometers
Time: 3-4 hours


Important Things to Know

  • Water is available at each hut. Water is not filtered and you can filter/boil it for your own precaution. But hut water is almost always drinkable in New Zealand.
  • Huts have gas stoves for use. There are no cooking utensils or cookware for use.

That’s it – have an amazing time on your Rakiura Track adventure!


Planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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