Recently I spent a gorgeous few days on Stewart Island/Rakiura, New Zealand's third largest and oft overlooked island. It is pretty far south and at times feels like the bottom of the world but there are so many good times to be had.
Gather a group of your favourite people, shop for necessary supplies (booze, bagels and chocolate - the necessities obviously) pop a sea legs tablet, board the Ferry at Bluff & hold on tight as you cross the Foveaux Strait.
Explore the township of Oban
It won't take you long. There is a pub, a church, an over priced cafe (that may have run out of food by the time you decided to drop in) a school, a weeny museum, a surprisingly well stocked 4 square supermarket and the visitors centre. The majority of Stewart Islands residents live here.
One of the few and the best place to grab a cheap dinner in Stewart Island is the Kai Kart. The blue cod is as fresh as can be and the chips are some of the best I have eaten in New Zealand. Blue cod, chips and a jam wrap (a oblong cinnamon donut full of hot raspberry jam) will set you back around $9.00.
Don't Feed The Kaka (but if you can't resist....)
Everyone said this to us. Don't feed the birds but if you can't resist give them a slice of apple. The first Kaka appeared tentatively at our kitchen window by mid morning. By dinner time the perch was full of these cheeky wee buggers all gargling and chirruping for apple slices.
There are lots of walks to be had and many will lead you to some fabulous view points of the Island.
Get Drunk & Go On a Kiwi Hunt
Arguably our most magical night on the island. After getting suitably pissed one night we decided to try and see a kiwi (New Zealand's iconic flightless bird). You can do this with a tour group of course or like us, rely on dumb luck. The rugby field across from the house we were staying at was apparently very good for kiwi spotting so we rugged up, grabbed a torch and set off, with no real expectations of actually spotting one. We certainly didn't deserve to see a kiwi for all the noise we made. But within five minutes, playing some kiwi bird calls off youtube and some smart torch work we spotted a kiwi - when you spot a kiwi in the wild you are not likely to forget it in a hurry, twiggy little legs carrying a fat little body while its absurdly long beaked head comically bobs about. They are crazy cute and we were pretty flipping excited by the whole thing.
Take long sleep ins in a squishy bed with a stunning view of the harbour listening to the roaring winds, hail and whipping rain outside. Pop some painkillers then enjoy cups of black coffee and toasty bagels.
Explore the Many Beaches and Bays
Whiskey & Fishing
A bottle of fireball to keep you warm, some handlines and squiddy bait is always a good time. Even if you are not successful at catching fishes.
Visit Ulva Island
Ulva Island is easy enough to get to by water taxi or guided tour. A renowned nature sanctuary and home to a large collection of native birds and flora, like morbidly obese Kereru (wood pigeons), kiwi's, kakariki's, yellowheads and little orange and black tieke (saddlebacks). Wandering the heavily forested trails and listening to the different bird calls through the canopy was a really beautiful way to spend a morning.