Stewart Island is a complete bird paradise, perfect for the established bird nut and those with a new interest in it (like me!). I spent 2 days/3 nights on the island and loved it with all of its’ walks, bird life and super friendly people.
I took the 5pm ferry from Bluff to Stewart. On the way over I spotted my first bird, the fine feathered, Royal Albatross with its huge wingspan flying after the boat. I met some other backpackers on the boat and headed over to my accommodation at Bunkers Backpackers for the first of 3 nights where we were warmly welcomed for a hot dog and to watch the first rugby match of the season at the local (hello $6 pints and $10 jugs!). At around 10.30pm I left to go kiwi hunting (slightly tipsily) with a new friend up the fuchsia track and around the rugby field (only use red lights as the white scare of the kiwi… Feel free to share this with people on the field with their super bright white lights!). Unfortunately we had no luck.
The next morning looked a little grey, so I took a walk to Wohlers memorial via the Golden Bay track. I saw so many birds on this walk: wood pigeons, fan tails, tuis, albatross, wood pigeons… Maybe a few others! There were also views and stops along plenty of the golden sand beaches (Deep Bay, Ringaringa beach and Golden Bay) and some of the surrounding islands.
In the afternoon I took a walk to Ryan’s Creek. This wasn’t particularly my favourite walk as it was all in the woods with minimal views, but plenty of ferns!
That evening I went to the famous fish and chip shop, after having someone else’s chips, I wasn’t so hungry for a full meal, so had a delicious (and huge) burger which was more than enough. After, I went back to the pub with a group from the Backpackers where there was some rugby on in the background.
The next morning I woke up bright and early to try for some more kiwi hunting at the crack of dawn along the same route… Again we had no luck. We then took the 9 am ferry to Ulva Island and I was given a leafy boarding pass. The trip to Ulva was recommended by everyone I had spoken to about Stewart Island. Ulva is free from pests (rats, stoats and weasels) due to some pretty huge eradication measures in the past. This means it’s the perfect place to turn into a bird haven. As you arrive into Post Office Bay you are welcomed by a golden beach. I’d recommend buying a self guided leaflet for $2 which tells you all about the island at selected markers and the local wildlife. Here we saw Robyn’s, Saddlebacks, Wekas, parakeets… It’s easy to spend 3-4 hours here, longer if the sun is out.
In the afternoon I took a walk out to Ackers Point which offers a walk past some pretty bays, crystal blue water and through the bush. Again here I saw Petrols and loads of Albatrosses!
That evening we went to the pub quiz where I switched on my Donald Trump impression to try and gain some extra point for for my team. We won the pub quiz (without help from my impression) and a $50 bar tab which we decided to drink! After we went for another drunken kiwi hunt, and again had no luck but found a rare Morepork owl!
Stewart is also a great place to take the time to look up at the stars and spot the Milky Way!