Stewart Island / Rakiura
That triangular Island right at the bottom of New Zealand is Stewart Island. At 170,000 hectares the Island is considerably bigger than most folks realise. And just to scotch a perception prevalent north of Cook Straits we do not have winter Icebergs, although we do have penguins. In fact there is a small colony living right beside the village wharf. Our climate is quite mild… we have fruited tamarillos and kiwi fruit in our garden. Though I hasten to say Te Puke should not feel threatened. And for Brits reading this, Stewart Island is 130 miles closer to the equator than are the Isles of Scilly.
We are a community of around 380 persons, now primarily engaged in tourism, although we have a strong marine farming presence and the Department of Conservation who manages Rakiura National Park have a significant staff. The fishing industries presence is much reduced from the 50+ vessels who called “The Bay” home in the late 60’s, although the “flavour” of the community is still that of a fishing village. Which, by the way is more properly named Oban.
“The Island” is on most New Zealanders Bucket List. Why ????. I suppose the reasons will be as many and varied as the people you ask. And will range from:-
Tranquility… you don’t have to walk far to find a beach all of your own to sit on…
Wildlife….. kaka feeding out of your hand at breakfast…. to the fishing….. if a blue cod doesn’t bite within a minute or so it’s time to move
Seabirds…. majestic albatross soaring around the boat…
Coastline… rugged, wild and sea swept….
Forest…. Ulva Island is as close to pristine as any place in New Zealand you and I will ever be allowed to visit.
Orchids covering forest banks and hanging in profusion from branches. Stunning sunrises & sunsets, aurora and magnificent rainbows… the Islands Maori name is Rakiura, Land of Glowing Skies….
Hard to get to ??…. Not at All
Some may perceive the Island as remote, and hard to get to. I suppose for someone living in a huge city our Island must seem like the far side of the moon, and almost as hard to get to. But now with a minimum of three * 20 minute flights from Invercargill, or two return ferry crossings of an hour from Bluff each day , and many more in the summer, there really is no excuse for not exploring the Magic of Stewart Island.
At Sails Ashore, Iris and I have managed to get our winter chores behind us, and after spending June in Italy Iris has most of our vegie garden planted. Apart from the odd short storm, an incredibly mild winter and spring has our garden looking as good as it has ever been. Daughter Anne and her Border Terrier Eddie visited recently, much to the initial disgust of our two Borders, who had issues with a boisterous puppy visitor. Two, possibly three new restaurants will open this season. Last year we had just the hotel, a creperie and a fish and chippie. So will be good to have some more choices for our guests, once we have tried them out.
The oil drilling rig that worked here for a short while has departed with no obvious issues, and the community is currently discussing various management points about our soon to be imposed visitor levy. This will be $5 return added to the plane or boat fare and will be spent entirely on visitor infrastructure. I have discussed this with most of our guests who without exception support it, with the proviso that money be spent only on footpaths, toilets etc.
This year cruise ship visits will be down slightly, and critically the largest will be just 450 passengers max, so we won’t have the chaos of 1400 plus people wandering around our narrow roads. With only 28k of roads, and a
population of under 400 plus maybe the same or a few more visitors here on any one day, dropping 1400 in on top of us gets just a bit tedious for the locals and probably doesn’t improve the experience for our “normal” visitors.
…. Peter & Iris, Sails Ashore11 View St,
64 3 219 1151
0800 783 9278