Most people think of
only having two islands, north and south, but there’s a third major island and it turns out it’s our favourite!!! After a short visit to New Zealand to catch up with family we headed back to the trails in NZ for some more hiking. Not only was Australia Stewart Island to be our last tramp before returning to Narama, but we loved it so much, that it deserves its own blog entry. Our plan was to hike the Northwest Circuit, which is meant to be a grueling 100+km of serious, deep mud and then head north for one more tramp. But we loved Stewart Island so much that we spent an extra week exploring around the small town, visiting Ulva Island, which is pest-free and therefore has loads of birdlife and even catching a Rugby game on Waitangi Day (NZ’s national day).
|12 days of food; our packs were very heavy at the start of our tramp|
|Learning the field marks of the elusive Kiwi|
Apparently we picked a really good year to attempt this hike as the unusually dry weather meant that the mud was reasonable, and not “thigh-deep” as we were warned about. The coast line was very dramatic with a few long sandy beaches and lots of rugged rocky headlands. And the wildlife was special! We had a very rough ferry crossing from Bluff on the “mainland” but the wind meant that we could spot more albatrosses gliding past. One of the other things that makes this island so special is that the Brown Kiwi, which is normally nocturnal, will feed throughout the day, making this the best place in NZ to spot them. For a national icon, we think the kiwi is one funny bird, but we were still thrilled to see them rooting around on the forest floor.
|Mud: even in a good year there will be some on Stewart Island|
|Always check the depth with a stick before stepping in!|
|The Kiwi and the Aussie!|
|Watching Albatross from shore: a rare opportunity elsewhere|