Rakiura a.k.a. Stewart Island is a place I've always wanted to visit here in New Zealand. I had the opportunity to take a trip there in January this year when Campbell Romeril, owner of Seaview Cottage Construction, invited me over to photograph the completed campgrounds and Warden hut they had been working on last year. More than happy to come along on the journey, I helped document our time there and even lent a hand to help finish some of the building work and cleanup needed on the site at Port Williams.
Our trip consisted of 4 days which didn't that seem that long, but we managed to see a decent amount of Rakiura. Starting off in Oban, we had a night at the pub and met some new friends. The following morning, a bit dusty but packed and ready to start the day, our mate came to pick us up and water taxi us over to Port Williams. We spent most of the day here, finishing up the bench at the campground shelter and tidying up the campground in general. I did a little exploring and found some baby Oyster catchers hanging out with their mama on the water's edge. Around 7 p.m., we finally started to make our way through the bush track over to Maori Beach.
It was a beautiful time of day to make our way through the forest to Maori Beach. Golden light seeping through the canopy and a cold beer in hand made for two happy campers. I really admired the maturity of the forest. While it seemed very similar to some of the bush I have explored in the South Island, the sheer size of some of the trees and density of the forest itself made me realise how old these forests really were. Truly a breathtaking place to be. When we came across the swing bridge leading to Maori Beach, my jaw dropped. It was perfect golden hour, sunset time and I was in complete awe. I made Cam model for me on the bridge with his can of Behemoth and then continued to stop along the bridge and take in the scene before me on all sides. In these moments, I am so grateful to be from such a beautiful country and I can't tell you how happy it make me to explore it in depth.
We meandered about that night and made camp. I ended up going for a swim and watching the sunset over the bush line behind the beach, slowly watching the nightfall. If you looked out towards the ocean, you could see the red lights of Bluff, the bottom of the South Island. It's amazing... In the 3 weeks over Christmas, New Years and then the 1st week of January, I had made my way all the to the top of the South and down to the bottom without even realising it. I highly recommend it!
The following morning, we woke up early and packed up our tent and gear. We had the biggest walking mission this day, making our way over to the North Arm Hut, where Cam and his team had a built a camp shelter and a brand new Warden's hut for the Department of Conservation. This was a grueling hike with the amount of gear we had, but we made it and I went for a victory swim once I got there. My legs felt like rubber, the swim was just what I needed after such an intense hike. Our friend, Rakiura, picked us up via water taxi from North Arm and dropped us back near Oban where we had a final night at the pub.
The last day we were able to spend over at Ulva island, taking in the wild life. We spotted some cheeky Weka and a couple beautiful Saddlebacks along the trails we were on. I didn't really want to leave but it was such a great introduction to an incredible part of this country. I can't wait to go back and explore more!
Enjoy the photos :)