Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rakiura (Stewart Island), the far mild south

Easter holiday in Dunedin was extra long this year.  We decided to cross a trip off of the bucket list and organised a trip to Stewart Island.  Stewart Island is an island located 30 km across the Foveaux Strait from Bluff (South Island).  The town of Oban is the only town and just under 400 people live on Stewart Island. 

The original Māori name, Te Punga o Te Waka a Maui, positions Stewart Island / Rakiura firmly at the heart of Māori mythology. Translated as The Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe, it refers to the part played by the island in the legend of Maui and his crew, who from their canoe, the South Island, caught and raised the great fish, the North Island.

We went over with my in-laws, rented a bach/crib for 6 nights and had a great time!  We were all expecting it to be freezing cold with Scottish drizzle... my were we surprised!  Now, we did have some drizzle, but it was no where near as cold and some days were actually hot! 

What is there to do you ask?  Well, there is seriously something for everyone!  We had a 4 year old in tow, so we did not do any of the big tramps (hikes).  But for those who love tramping and the great outdoors there are numerous trails that are anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 days long!  What we chose to do with a 4 year old is the following:

Saturday we went into town and it just so happened they had an Easter Fair on.  This consisted of a cake/bake sale, sausage sizzle and a huge easter egg dig.  $2 registration fee and at 11am the under 5s had a pit and the over 5s had a pit and the kids got to digging for these pink tags with number written on them.  When I kid found a number they turned it in and got a chocolate.  This was no easy task.  We dug for a good half an hour to an hour and found two tags.  They then announced that there was 8 left in each pit.  I think everyone gave up! 

One day we spent on Ulva Island.  These was a 5 minute ferry across Patterson Inlet.  Ulva island is a nature reserve (both land and sea).  For so long there were no predators in NZ, therefore, most of the native birds are either flightless and/or sleep/nest on the ground.  A lot of work has been undertaken to rid the island of predators such as possums and rats.  This allows the bird life to flourish!  There are many birds on this island that you can find no where else in NZ.  Now, the 'problem' with this island and a 4-year old is that you have to walk everywhere and you have to BE QUIET! Even though we did have a 4 year old pretty much incapable of being quiet, we saw a lot of birds and Bodie made friends with one of the rarest birds on the planet (a native NZ robin) and this robin followed him around. It was pretty cute. Not so cute convincing him to walk on...

We booked a fishing charter and went out fishing for a couple of hours. The sea is crystal clear down there, the fish are huge and there are a lot of them! Fishing is what people do for their livelihoods! We found a charter that allowed pre-schoolers (free) called Leask Bay Charters . They were awesome! They provided the fishing lines, baited your hook for you, took the fish off and fileted it for you to take home and eat! It was a beautiful sunny, flat sea day and we had a great day!

Other things we did were play board games, feed the kakas on our deck, fish off the wharfs (or feed the fish, I should say), play on the playground, go to the museum, roam through the bush around the house.... I could go on and on. But, it is a great little place and definitely worth the trip! To get there you have to make your way to Invercargill. Where you can either fly or take the ferry (from Bluff). Flights are 20 minutes, ferry is 1 hour.

Easter Egg Dig
Kaka on the porch eating from our hands!

A rare flightless native bird called a Weka.

Ulva Island, all tuckered out after 4 hours of walking!

All tuckered out after a big week and an early rise.

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