Rakiura National Park

Rakiura National Park is a nature reserve park located on Stewart Island / Rakiura, New Zealand. It is the newest national park of New Zealand and opened in 2002. The protected area covers about 85% of the island.

Rakiura National Park
LocationStewart Island, New Zealand
Nearest cityOban, New Zealand
Coordinates46°54′S 168°7′E
Area1,399.6 km2 (540.4 sq mi)
Governing bodyDepartment of Conservation


Rakiura National Park is the 14th of New Zealand's national parks and was officially opened on 9 March 2002 by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, the Minister of Conservation, Sandra Lee, and the mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary.[1] It is New Zealand's newest national park.[2]

It covers close to 1,400 square kilometres (540 sq mi),[3] which is about 85% of Stewart Island, New Zealand's third-largest island. The park area excludes the township area around Halfmoon Bay (Oban) and some roads as well as private or Maori-owned land further inland.[1] It is made up of a network of former nature reserves, scenic reserves, and State Forest areas.

A chain sculpture at the entrance to Rakiura National Park symbolises the Maori view that the South Island was a legendary canoe with Stewart Island as its anchor; the sculpture was unveiled as part of the opening of the national park.[1] In 2008, a similar sculpture was erected in Bluff, and it represents the other end of the chain.[4]

Fauna and flora

Near Port William Hut, North Coast

Many native birds can be found within the park, and Rakiura offers perhaps the best opportunity anywhere in New Zealand for viewing kiwi in the wild. This is in part due to the absence of stoats and ferrets. Certain coastal areas of this park are breeding areas for the endangered yellow-eyed penguin.[5] Weka, a flightless and curious bird species, can only be found on offshore islands.[6]

In the 1970s, kakapo were found in the Tin Range at a time when it was thought that the species was nearly extinct. The kakapo have been transferred to nearby Codfish Island, which is not part of the national park.[7]


Rakiura Track

The popular Rakiura Track is within the national park. This is a three day two night trip that is 29 kilometres long. The track meanders through lowland rimu and kamahi forest. the track takes in Port William and the north arm of Paterson Inlet.[8] It is possible to see kiwis on this trip at nigh time near the huts.[9]

Northwest Circuit

The Northwest Circuit circumnavigates the northern and western aspects of Stewart Island. The track is 125 kilometres long and takes most people between eight and ten days to complete. Most of the track is along the coastline visiting a series of very isolated sandy beaches. Once it reaches Mason Bay, the track crosses the Freshwater Depression before reaching Paterson Inlet. There are ten huts on the track which are, in general, spaced between five and seven hours walk apart. [8]

Southern Circuit

The Southern Circuit is a challenging nine day tramping trip. It is 70 kilometres long and after rain, can involve long periods of walking in mud and deep water. [8] The Southern Circuit takes in Doughboy Bay Hut. This eight bed hut is the southernmost hut in the Department of Conservation's network.[9]

See also


  1. "Stewart Island national park created". The New Zealand Herald. New Zealand Press Association. 10 March 2002. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  2. Walrond, Carl (12 December 2012). "Stewart Island/Rakiura – New Zealand's third main island". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  3. "Stewart Island/Rakiura Conservation Management Strategy (CMS) and Rakiura National Park Management Plan 2011–2021" (PDF). Department of Conservation. March 2012. p. 115. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  4. "Bluff to replicate anchor chain sculpture". The Southland Times. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  5. Hogan, C. Michael (6 April 2009). Stromberg, N. (ed.). "Yellow-eyed Penguin: Megadypes antipodes". GlobalTwitcher.com. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011.
  6. Walrond, Carl (12 December 2012). "Stewart Island/Rakiura – Plants and animals". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  7. Walrond, Carl (12 December 2012). "Stewart Island/Rakiura – Plants and animals". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  8. Department of Conservation (2005). Rakiura Parkmap 336-10 4th Edition. New Zealand: Department of Conservation.
  9. Dec '16, Neil Silverwood 21 December 201621 (20 December 2016). "A perfect week in Rakiura National Park". Wilderness Magazine. Retrieved 16 May 2021.