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Thrifty Tours

Rakiura Exploration

Located off the South coast of New Zealand Stewart Island is a haven for brown kiwi, weka, kaka and even the rare yellow-eyed penguin. Just off-shore is Ulva Island a predator-free paradise for dozens of native species. Only home to around 400, the island is yet to be visited by many New Zealanders.
This tour starts in Queenstown and journeys through to Invercargill before crossing to Stewart Island for a few days exploration. If you'd rather start from Dunedin or ANYWHERE else then get in touch and we can adjust things to suit you.

Tour summary and feature

About this NZ Road Trip

Seat-in-Coach Touring

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,645 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Queenstown, finishes in Queenstown

5 days/4 nights

Motels

 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible

 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers

 Viewed 8 times in the last 7 days

Also included in this package

Wild Kiwi Encounter

Bill Richardson Transport Museum

price pp from
NZD$1,645
based on twin share
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Tour full itinerary
Detailed itinerary for this New Zealand Road Trip

Day 1 - Venture south to Invercargill and on to Stewart Island

Rakiura Exploration - Day 1
Queenstown to Invercargill with Tracknet coaches

Leaving Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu guides you south. The rolling green hills of Southland accompany you as you pass through the farming communities of Garston, Athol, Lumsden and Winton before arriving at the worlds southern most city, Invercargill. With long summer days and a reputation for being a city filled with friendly inhabitants, Invercargill and and its beautiful Edwardian and Victorian architecure is a great city from which to explore the southern reaches of New Zealand from.

Invercargill to Stewart Island with Stewart Island flights

The first air transport to connect Stewart Island and the mainland was Stewart Island Air Service, operating an amphibian aircraft. The plane landed in the harbour and taxied up the beach to the local hotel. Twenty years ago this was succeeded by Southern Air Ltd with the establishment of an airstrip at Ryan's Creek. Today, Stewart Island Flights is a locally owned and operated business who maintain scheduled flights linking Stewart Island and Invercargill as well as a number of exciting alternatives providing access to the more remote reaches of the island. They operate two Britten Norman Islanders, two Piper Cherokee Six and one Cessna 185.
As well as offering scheduled flights between Invercargill and Stewart Island scenic flights can also be arranged on demand to suit your schedule.

Your accommodation: Kowhai Lane, Stewart Island

Kowhai Lane offers motel convenience with the luxury of space and comfort. With just 4 large rooms each with ensuite facilities the property has a shared lounge and well equipped kitchen and dining room. Overlooking Half Moon Bay Kowhai Lane is just a 5 minute stroll to the waterfront.

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Day 2 - Explore the Island and get up close to the native kiwi

Rakiura Exploration - Day 2
Stewart Island (Rakiura National Park)

Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island, approximately 75 kms long and 45 kms wide and separated from the South Island by the Foveaux Strait. The Island is relatively low lying and undulating with the highest point, Mt Anglem/Hananui just 981 metres high. The island is largely uninhabited and unmodified which led to 85% of the island being declared a national park in 2002, named Rakiura National Park. 

The name "Rakiura" is the Maori name for the island - which means "Glowing Sky", apt as Stewart Island enjoys spectacular sunrises, sunsets and aurora. The island is mainly covered in native bush, with wetlands, sand dunes and a varied coastline from sandy beaches to sheer cliffs. The coastline is fringed with vegetation and bordered by crystal clear waters hosting an abundance of marine life – fantastic for fishing and wildlife watching.  

Stewart Island is New Zealand's southernmost populated area, but has less than 400 residents who mostly live around Halfmoon Bay.  With just 28km of roads and 280km of walking tracks, the island is all about appreciating the natural wilderness. Nearby Ulva Island is an idyllic, predator-free bird sanctuary for rare and endangered bird and plant species, a paradise for birds and bird lovers.  The highlight for any visit to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park is the isolation and the untouched, unspoilt wildlife and native bush.

Wild Kiwi Encounter

This is your chance to view the iconic Kiwi in its natural habitat. These rare birds are a symbol of New Zealand and Stewart Island is the best place to view them in the wild. Depart Oban on the Foveaux Express from Halfmoon Bay at dusk and cruise across Paterson Inlet to Little Glory Cove. Cruise past historic settlement sites on The Neck and learn about Stewart Island’s rich history and nature along the way.
Once there, take a short guided bush walk by torchlight through spectacular coastal forest to a secluded sandy beach where Kiwi are often found searching for food after nightfall.  Here, in the darkness, you’ll get up close to the Southern Brown Kiwi in its unspoilt natural habitat. The native name for these amazing creatures is Rakiura Tokoeka (pronounced Rucky-oo-ruh Taw-kaw-eck-uh).  They are the Stewart Island variety of Brown Kiwi and are found nowhere else. After searching for kiwi, the group will return to the vessel along forest track and cruise back to Oban Main Wharf.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Phil's Sea Kayaks - Captivating Coastline Half Day Tour

Tours are all customisable showcasing Paterson Inlet on the beautiful Stewart Island. You may visit Ulva or Te Wharawhara marine reserve historic site, spot seahorses, penguins or mollymawk before you land on a golden sandy beach for a cup of tea and some baking. Tours utilize very stable, sit-in sea kayaks that are easily steered with a foot-operated rudder. The tour is not a marathons and times/routes reflect the best option for the prevailing conditions.

Your accommodation: Kowhai Lane, Stewart Island

Kowhai Lane offers motel convenience with the luxury of space and comfort. With just 4 large rooms each with ensuite facilities the property has a shared lounge and well equipped kitchen and dining room. Overlooking Half Moon Bay Kowhai Lane is just a 5 minute stroll to the waterfront.

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Day 3 - Visit the neighbouring Ulva Island

Rakiura Exploration - Day 3
Ulva Island Explorer

A leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a guided walk in the renowned bird sanctuary of Ulva Island. The cruise showcases some stunning scenery including the hidden coves and unspoilt beaches of Paterson Inlet. The local guides are passionate about this area and provide informative commentary during the scenic cruise. While on board look out for fur seals and penguins – there are a lot of them around. At Ulva Island there’s a 45 minute, easy guided walk. The island is a renowned wildlife sanctuary where many rare and endangered native species of birdlife and plants flourish in a predator free environment. Home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads among other species. The tracks are well-formed and suitable for most ages and fitness levels and small group sizes make it highly personalised.
Includes Picnic Lunch.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Stewart Island Village and Bays Tour

The Village and Bays tour is a must for any visitor to Stewart Island. An informative insight into island life, culture and history, the 1 1/2 hour tour takes in Lee Bay, Horseshoe Bay and Observation Rock amongst others. With photo opportunities and some great tales along the way, the tour is not to be missed.

Your accommodation: Kowhai Lane, Stewart Island

Kowhai Lane offers motel convenience with the luxury of space and comfort. With just 4 large rooms each with ensuite facilities the property has a shared lounge and well equipped kitchen and dining room. Overlooking Half Moon Bay Kowhai Lane is just a 5 minute stroll to the waterfront.

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Day 4 - Head back to the mainland and enjoy time in Invercargill

Rakiura Exploration - Day 4
Stewart Island to Invercargill with Stewart Island flights

The first air transport to connect Stewart Island and the mainland was Stewart Island Air Service, operating an amphibian aircraft. The plane landed in the harbour and taxied up the beach to the local hotel. Twenty years ago this was succeeded by Southern Air Ltd with the establishment of an airstrip at Ryan's Creek. Today, Stewart Island Flights is a locally owned and operated business who maintain scheduled flights linking Stewart Island and Invercargill as well as a number of exciting alternatives providing access to the more remote reaches of the island. They operate two Britten Norman Islanders, two Piper Cherokee Six and one Cessna 185.
As well as offering scheduled flights between Invercargill and Stewart Island scenic flights can also be arranged on demand to suit your schedule.

Bill Richardson Transport World - General Admission

Bill Richardson Transport World is the largest private collection of its type in the world. Designed to have something for everyone - not just for vehicle enthusiasts! Outside of the extensive vehicle range you can also enjoy a growing wearable arts collection, movie theatre, children's play zones and themed bathrooms - fast becoming as famous as the vehicles. The scale of the collection is sure to impress so allow plenty of time. If tasting the flavours of the south is more your thing, head to the onsite cafe The Grille to experience famous Southern delicacies like Stewart Island Salmon, Blue Cod, seasonal Bluff Oysters and Southland lamb. A truly delicious stop popular with locals and visitors alike.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - The World's Fastest Indian at E Hayes Motorworks Collection

The E Hayes Motorworks Collection is home to a fascinating display of vintage motorcycles, automobiles, and machinery all available for viewing at the E Hayes Dee Street store in Invercargill.  The centre piece of the collection has to be Burt Munro's legendary record breaking "World's Fastest Indian".  Burt Munro gradually customised his Indian ‘Scout’ motorcycle in his Invercargill shed over a 45 year period.  Finally at the age of 63 he journeyed to Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah for the first of his world breaking on land speed records on the ‘World’s Fastest Indian’. You are welcome to view any display in the E Hayes collection during normal shop trading hours. The friendly staff are happy to answer any questions you have.

Your accommodation: Admiral Court Motel

Admiral Court Motel & Apartments is a modern, warm, spacious, ground floor accommodation complex, with 17 units available including 5 luxury units. Centrally located on Tay Street, Admiral Court is within minutes of all the amenities, including the City Centre, iSite, Queens Park and various sporting and family attractions.

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Day 5 - Travel back to Dunedin

Rakiura Exploration - Day 5
Invercargill to Queenstown Airport by Tracknet Coaches

The small townships of Lumsden, Athol and Garston accompany you north towards Queenstown. Following the lake north the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach the adventure capital of Queenstown.

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