The Rakiura Track is a tramping (hiking) track in Rakiura National Park on Stewart Island, off the south of the South Island of New Zealand. It is a loop track that starts and finishes near Oban, Stewart Island's main settlement, and is usually walked in three days.
The Rakiura track is 32 km (20 mi) long, but the complete route to and from the village of Oban is 39 km (24 mi) including sections on the road at either end. Entry to the track is at sea level, and the highest point is approximately 200 m (660 ft).
The track may be walked in either direction and forms a circular route from Oban, where there are ferries and flights from near Invercargill. The track is normally walked in three days, but if you can keep up a good pace, can be done in 2 days or 1 long day in summer.
The track is also very suitable for day walks. A water taxi is available from Oban to Port William. This allows either the first day to be done in reverse as a day walk, or the route for days 2 & 3 to be done as a longer day walk. The day 1 route is probably the most interesting to do as a day, as there are good coastal views and some beach sections.
The track has two huts and three campsites, which must be booked in advance with the Department of Conservation. The huts have bunks and mattresses (24 each), toilets, heating and cold running water. They do not provide cooking facilities, cooking utensils, linen, showers or toilet paper. The campsites have toilets, sinks, cooking shelters and a water supply. You need to take all your sleeping gear, food, cooking and eating gear (eg, portable stove), lighting (torch or candles), rubbish bag and toilet paper. You will also want wet-weather gear and insect repellent.
There are several places to stay in and around Oban before or after the hike; these are best booked in advance.
- 1 Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre, 15 Main Road, Stewart Island, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8:30am–4:30pm, Sa-Su 10am–2pm. Department of Conservation (DOC) office in Oban, with a small exhibition and information counter, where you can make late hut bookings.
If you don't want to walk between Oban and the track ends, you can arrange a shuttle. See the Outdoor Adventure Shop at 14 Main Rd or Oban Visitor Centre in the Red Shed at 12 Elgin Terr near the wharf.
The route described here goes anti-clockwise around the track. This means that you have the longest road section of route at the start.
From the centre of Oban follow Horseshoe Bay Road up over a small hill to Horseshoe Bay beach. As an alternative there is a track around the coast Horseshoe Point Track, but this is a bit of detour.
Then walk along (or around) the beach and take Lee Bay Road at the far end of the bay. The official start of the track is by the beach at Lee Bay.
The track follows the coast to Magnetic Bay. Here the route turns inland, but Port William hut is a small diversion to the north at the other end of the beach. There are two parts of this route which use the beach, with inland alternatives at high tide. It might be better to time your walk for low tide.
The first km is an easy section (there are even a couple of wooden benches) to Little River. As a day walk you could head back from here over Garden Mound. The track then crosses Little River on a wooden footbridge and along the beach for about 300m. After this there is a brief climb and the path goes through the forest for 2km with occasional glimpses of the sea.
The track then descends to Maori Beach. The first part has an inland alternative, and the paths rejoin at the campsite. The historic sawmill (on the high tide route) is an interesting diversion 5 minutes back from the beach. The track then goes along the length of the beach to a suspension bridge over an inlet at the far end.
This section is inland through lush forest.
This section loosely follows the coast of the Paterson Inlet to the main road near the airstrip.
Fern Gully to Oban
It is then a short walk on Main Road down to Half Moon Bay. There is a picnic table at the end of the track/ start of the road for you to enjoy a celebratory drink or bar of chocolate.
Ensure you follow the precautions outlined on the Department of Conservation brochures and any other information provided to you.
- The North West Circuit Track is a longer, more rugged 10-day hike around Stewart Island, with smaller huts. The first day and last day are the same as for the Rakiura Track. This route can be extended by including the Southern Circuit.
- Milford Track on the South Island
- Routeburn Track on the South Island
- For other tracks, see Tramping in New Zealand.