Below are answers to frequent questions about our tours and Stewart Island. Please contact us if your question has not been answered below.

Tour Questions Answered

  • There are so many options how do I choose the best trip for me?

    Start by deciding what type of experience you prefer.

    Step 1: Decide on whether you would like a Package or an individual experience or several experiences.

    The individual experiences are:

    • Guided Walks
    • Kiwi Spotting & Bird Watching
    • Boat Cruises 
    • Photography Tours
    • Scenic Road Tours
    • Guided Sea Kayaking

    Step 2: Choose between day trips or overnight options.

    Step 3: Review the trip summaries to see what appeals most, and suits your fitness and ability.

    Step 4: Check that the options you choose fit in with your travel plans for getting to and from Stewart Island.

    If you need help or suggestions, please contact us. We are always happy to assist.

  • Can I book my tour when I get to Stewart Island?

    We recommend prior bookings all year round. During the off-season it is essential to book in advance.

    We are a small business, offering multiple options for small groups. We take bookings on a first come, first served basis. To ensure you do not miss out, book in advance.

  • What is your Operating Season?

    Our main operating season is October though till April. We operate during most of the off-season.

    During parts of the off-season we may be closed, to allow us to take a rest and to carry out maintenance on our equipment. We notify our opening times on our Contact page.

    We are a small business, operating in a semi-remote location, our resources are limited especially during the off-season. Advance bookings are essential anytime of the year. 

  • What will the weather be like?

    See our page on Weather.

    It is hard to predict what the weather will be like anytime of the year. Some spring and autumn months can be windy. Some winter months can be settled. Summer can offer mostly good weather, or we can also have a bumpy ride! We advise you to come with an open mind, good clothing and footwear and an understanding that there is always plenty to do whatever the weather.

  • Where is Golden Bay Wharf?

    Golden Bay Wharf is in Oban overlooking Paterson Inlet.

    Golden Bay Wharf is 10 - 20 minutes walk from accommodation venues in Oban Village, via Golden Bay Road.

    Some of our tours include transport to and from Golden Bay Wharf - especially for overnight trips and photography tours. For other tours, you have the option to book transfers with us for $6.00 one-way or $12.00 return per person. Transfers can be arranged when you book your trip with us or when you get here.

  • What are your group sizes on tours?

    Minimum and maximum group sizes are shown on each trip page.

    We operate small group tours for all our independent clients.

    Guided Walks / Hikes: On half day trips, the average can be 2 - 6 persons. On full day trip, the average can be 6 - 10 persons. On overnight trips, we take 6 - 8 persons for Mason Bay trip and up to 12 or 13 persons for the Rakiura Great Walk. Groups are guided privately - so that we can continue to take independent clients in small group for a quality experience.

    Boat Cruises: On average from 3 to 8 persons depending on the tour.

    Kayaking: On average from 2 to 8 persons.

  • Fitness Levels and Ability

    We recommend certain fitness levels and ability, so that you enjoy and benefit from our tours.

    Our trip options provide information on duration, distances and terrain to allow you to make better choices. We can also help with recommendations to suit your fitness and ability and that of your party members. For your comfort, safety, enjoyment and that of other group members, for good and high levels of fitness, you must exercise regularly before your trip (at least 2 - 3 times a week).

    Our trips are graded as follows:

    Reasonable Fitness

    Walk or Hike: Able to walk at a reasonable pace with a light day pack (personal belongings) for the duration of the trip.
    Kayak: Able to paddle for the duration of the trip.

    Good Fitness

    Walk or Hike: You are able to walk / hike at a good pace (approx. 4 kms per hour), carrying a backpack weighing 1 - 2 kg for day trips and approximately 5+ kg for overnight trips, over the terrain covered and, for the duration of the walk / hike.
    Kayak: Able to paddle for the duration of the trip.

    High Fitness

    Walk or Hike: You can hike at a good pace (approx. 5 kms per hour ), carrying a backpack weighing 5 - 10 kg, over the terrain, for the duration of the tramp.
    You need to exercise regularly, before the trip, to maintain the appropriate fitness (at least 2 - 3 times a week).
    Kayak: Able to paddle for the duration of the trip. 

  • Can you cater for my dietary needs?

    We cater for most dietary needs.

    We can cater for a variety of dietary needs including: vegetarian, vegan, gluten free diets.  

    If you have booked our picnic lunch or are coming on one of our overnight guided trips, please let us know about your dietary needs / likes / dislikes. Last minute requests are difficult for us, being on an Island, we pre-order our ingredients several days prior to our tours.

  • What is involved in our tours?

    Each trip page on this website details what is involved.

    During the trip, your guide will provide relevant information on natural history, especially fauna and flora, cultural history, Maori and European, conservation issues relevant to the sites visited as well as information on Stewart Island / Ulva Island.

    We stop regularly to rest and / or have a snack or have meals depending on the tour. There is time to see, watch, listen, learn, relax and time to meet with and interact with people from all over the world.

    Our trips provide you with an opportunity to fully enjoy your time without worrying about arrangements for water taxis, huts, meals and camping equipment and what to see and do. All you have to do is bring yourself and your personal items, we provide the rest.

  • What to Wear and Bring

    Our trip pages show what to wear and bring for each trip. A summary is shown on the Wear and Bring page.

    Please bring the right gear and footwear and be prepared for changing weather anytime of the year. We also hire and sell quality outdoor clothing and equipment at our Outdoor Shop.

  • Where do trips operate?

    Stewart Island, Ulva Island, Rakiura National Park

    Our business is located in Stewart Island. We specialise in trips in Stewart Island, Ulva Island and Rakiura National Park.

  • Do you offer a porter service or pack transfers for your overnight trips?

    We are happy to discuss options with you.

    For overnight trips, you generally only need to carry your personal belongings, your lunch and for the Mason Bay trip, a share of food. However, if you need a porter service or gear transfer, this will need to be at cost and must be feasible for us - we are happy to discuss options with you.

  • Do I have to attend a trip briefing for an overnight trip?

    Our trip briefings for overnight tours are mandatory.

    This is an important part of our tours and service we offer, an opportunity for us to meet you and for you to meet your guide and other participants. We provide some general information about your hike, ensure you have the right gear for the trip, inform you about what is involved and answer any questions.

  • Where can we get drinking water on overnight hikes?

    Department of Conservation huts have water suitable for drinking.

    You can fill your water bottles at the Department of Conservation huts / campsite. Currently this is fine to drink. There haven't been any reported incidences of giardia.

  • Are there drying facilities on overnight hikes?

    The Department of Conservation huts we stay in have some drying facilities.

    Huts have a wood burner and a clothes rack nearby to dry clothes. We can also string up a line to dry things outside if it is not raining.

Stewart Island Questions Answered

  • When is the best time to visit Stewart Island?

    You can visit anytime of the year.

    Most people visit Stewart Island in spring, summer and autumn. Our peak months are late October to April. Some people like to travel in off-peak months when there are fewer people about.

    Some things to consider:

    • Birds are active all year round, but spring and early summer are good months.
    • Flowers and orchids tend to be more prevalent in spring and summer, one orchid flowers in autumn.
    • Days are getting longer from spring and warming up too. In winter days are shorter, and it can be cooler. However, we also can get cooler weather anytime of the year. 
    • Some operators do not work in the off-season. There may be fewer options of things to do in the off-season. We operate most of the off-season, subject to feasible numbers, but will also have some weeks where we do not operate (to take a rest or carry out maintenance work). Prior bookings are recommended for our tours and services, especially in the off-season. 
    • Spring and autumn can have windy days, some winter months can have settled weather. Our weather, however, is extremely changeable and there are no hard and fast rules.
    • Flights and ferry schedules operate daily all year round and on a reduced winter timetable in the off-season.
    • You can eat out or buy food to cook, anytime of the year. Only one restaurant is open during the winter.
  • What is the best way to travel to Stewart Island?

    This is a matter of personal choice but you may wish to consider other factors.

    Some things to consider: 

    • You may want to maximise your time in Stewart Island. Consider how much time you want to take up in travelling and how the flight or ferry timetable fits in with your schedules. See Getting Here.
    • Flights only take about 15 - 20 minutes, the ferry takes 1 hour.
    • The plane and ferry travel in most weather.
    • Flying provides a spectacular overview of Stewart Island's northeast coast, our village and surrounding bays, as well our stunning Paterson Inlet.
    • Ferry is enjoyed by people who like being on the water or are trying to spot some seabirds. 
  • Where can we stay in Stewart Island?

    There is a variety of accommodation venues in Stewart Island

    For details see Accommodation.  Some things to consider:

    • Accommodation is available all year round. Some venues may close in the off-season.
    • Accommodation is available in the centre of Oban within 5 minutes of all the facilities and within the village surrounds (up to 30 minutes to 1 hour walking distance).
    • Some venues provide courtesy vehicles if the accommodation is not within easy walking distance.
    • A number of accommodation places are can be booked up months in advance for peak holiday times (Christmas / New Year, school holidays, public holidays and Easter). It is advisable to book as early as you can.