Island/Rakiura is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies
30 kilometres (19 mi) south of the
South Island, across Foveaux Strait. Its
permanent population is slightly over 330 people, most of whom live in the
settlement of Oban.
Stewart Island/Rakiura is the southernmost and smallest (about 75km long and
up to 45km wide). It is also the least modified- the least logged, least
farmed, least burnt, and least built upon.
Together with its 170 satellite islands and inlets,
it retains a largely intact set of natural habitats ranging from dense coastal
rainforest to tundra-like alpine vegetation.
Rakiura is the more commonly known and used Māori name. It is usually translated
as Glowing Skies, possibly a reference to the sunsets for which it is
famous or for the Aurora Australis, the southern lights that are a phenomenon of
Over 80 per cent of the island is set aside as the Rakiura National Park, New
Zealand's newest national park.
Other landscape features include the unique southern granite domes, Mason Bay's
extensive dunelands, the expansive Freshwater wetlands, Mt Anglem's twin lakes,
and numerous small forest-lined rivers stained brown by tannin.
Human settlement is
confined to a small area on the northeast coast centred on Halfmoon Bay
and the township of Oban. Native forest embraces the
settlement and its 24km or roads, creating an attractive natural
There are passenger and
freight links with South Island (1 hour by catamaran from Oban to Bluff,
20 min to Invercargill Airport by light aircraft). Economic
activity on the island is dominated by three sectors – fishing/fish
processing, tourism and marine farming.
There are regular daily schedule air services from Invercargill airport