Published: May 31st 2009May 30th 2009
2 1/2 hours on a mini bus from Queenstown to Invercargill. Then a 4 hour wait, then a half hour bus to Bluff then a one hour ferry ride to reach Stewart Island. I lucked out the water was calm ( I hear it is rough a lot of the time) so the ferry ride in the sunset was great. When we pulled into the dock it was dark, there was two buildings that had lights on and a few street lights. I asked where Bunkers Backpackers was located and a local pointed to the hotel (one of only two buildings with lights on) and said just behind there. I walked over to my hostel checked in, got some food (at the only place that was open that served food) and had an early night.
Stewart Island is located about 30 km south of New Zealand. It has one town and 400 year round residents. There is only two ways to and from the island, by ferry or by an 8 seat passenger plane. Electricity costs 4 times on the island then what it does on the mainland. Also there is only about 20 km of sealed roads on the
island. People come to hike, bird watch, fish, kayak and other outdoor activities. This place is a pleasant contrast from the party scene in Queenstown.
I awoke on Thursday morning with the sun poking in the window. Perfect it was a nice day to see this island. I jumped on a bike from the hostel and started towards Horseshoe Bay. I thought I picked the best of the bikes but the chain fell off and the gears wouldn't change making it difficult to climb any hills. I took the bike back and explored on foot. There are so many trails to hike here. I took some advice and set off on a route. In about an hour and a half I walked through forest up hills, past coves, and onto white sandy beaches.
Thursday evening I had visited the i Site and got a few ideas on what to do on Friday. I had wanted to take a water taxi over to Ulva Island and wander around the island for the afternoon (weather permitting). When I got up on Friday I decided to do a couple small hikes instead, plus the skies looked a little uninviting. I walked
all the way up to Horseshoe Bay and through some gardens (can't remember the name) and found a nice lookout point to enjoy a fine lunch of granola bars and water. The return trip was 2 1/2 hours so the day was still young so I decided to do the lighthouse walk that takes you all the way out to the tip of the island.
I meant to come here and visit for 2 maybe 3 days. Today I find myself on day 5 and it looks like I may be here for a few more days. It is just way to pleasant to get up in the morning and pack a day bag and just walk around enjoying the tranquillity of it all. Listening to the birds singing, finding your own beach or finding a nice lookout to have a relaxing lunch. This was what I was looking for after 6 days in Queenstown of watching young tourists drink themselves into oblivion and throwing themselves off of bridges. Not that there is anything wrong with that but I was looking for a little break, it has been about 7 weeks on the road. So the hikes through the
forest a time out on a hidden beach overlooking uninhabited islands has been a real pleasure. I went fishing for blue cod yesterday, even though Rob and I didn't catch anything it was a good time.
I have been really enjoying my time on Stewart Island. The locals wave when they drive by and everyone one says hello to you on the street. I mean to leave on Tuesday but I am not looking forward to the ferry trip because it is quite rough most of the time ( I don't feel like vomiting in public) so the 20 minute flights looks like my way back to the mainland. There are still a few things I would like to see before I leave this island, so maybe a few more days before I can turn on my mobile phone and walk on the mainland. Anyway I will continue to enjoy my time out. Sorry I couldn't get any pictures to load up (it is an island so the connection can be slow). This place is so naturally beautiful and I will try to add some photos once I return to the mainland.