Stewart Island

Here are a few photos from our holiday.

We first did the Rakiura Track. The first bit was along the coast line, up and down in the bush but with stunning views quite regularly. The sea was so clear and turquois blue that it almost looked tropical:

003 Kleine Insel vom Rakiura Track aus

Mind you, Stewart Island is quite far South and temperatures have more in common with the North Sea than Thailand.

We then had a day off in civilisation, with amazing evening light in the bay:

009 Oban Boote am Abend

We also went to see little blue penguins, and could get a really good view of them both swimming out in the sea, as well as returning to land for the night.

Then back tramping again:

015 Auf dem Weg nach Mason Bay

We went to Mason Bay, on the other side of the island, where you can see Kiwis in the wild. We did indeed see a couple, which was pretty cool.

On the next day, we went for a beach walk down the bay. The weather was great so it was absolutely fantastic:

017 Mason Bay

Not so fantastic (quite sad actually) was a pod of whales that had stranded in the bay a year ago. You can still see them lying on the beach, what little is left of them.

At the end of the beach, there were birds with little chicks in the dunes. At first, we didn’t see the chicks, just the adults which were clearly indicating that they were not too happy about us wandering around. Only when the chicks moved could we see them, as they were still really little. Just tiny dark grey fluff balls moving over the sand.

We watched them through binoculars for a while which was really funny, as the chicks were so small that they only could walk on sand but not step over mussel shells yet. So each time the came up to a shell, they would fall over the shell, then stand up again and run until they came to the next shell.

On the way back, while waiting for the water taxi, Gregor went for a swim in the Freshwater River. 10 minutes later a seal turned up there! So it was good that nobody was in the water anymore. The surprising thing about that seal was that it was quite a long way from the sea, but obviously juveniles hang out on their own until they’re fully grown, and that particular seal had wandered up the river.

On the next day, we did a guided day tour to Ulva Island. This island is pretty special not just for its bird life, but also for its forests. These have not been modified much since humans arrived and are hence pretty much like they would have been hundreds of millions of years ago!

029 Wald auf Ulva Island

That night, new year’s eve, there was a bonfire on the beach in front of the pub, and a band was playing. The road along the beach was closed which was quite funny as there’s not much traffic there anyway.

The only ones who probably didn’t enjoy the nightly activities on the beach were a couple of oyster catchers with two little chicks, who had nested on the beach. Mr and Ms Oystercatcher must then have moved the family further down the beach where it was quieter, as that’s where we saw them again on the following day.

In the morning, we went paddling for a couple of hours until the wind picked up and became too strong. It was fun though, each time I get a little bit better at it.

We spent the remainder of the holiday doing little walks along the coast:

034 Evening Cove

We had good weather the entire holiday, which is really amazing considering that it usually rains A LOT on Stewart Island. All our tramping was with dry feet, even though the island has a reputation for its deep mud. Lucky us!