People have lived on Stewart Island since the 13th Century, when the Maori named it Rakiura, meaning “Land of the Glowing Skies”. Although the island has a total area of 172 square kilometres (similar in size to Singapore), its 400 inhabitants are concentrated around the township of Oban.

During the 1800s sealing, whaling, saw-milling, fishing and tin mining were the main attractions of the island. Relics of this era can be viewed at the Rakiura Museum in Oban. In the early 1900s tourism was well under way, with discerning visitors finding the island a peaceful natural haven. One hundred years on its still the case. Stewart Island draws conservationists, eco-tourists and anybody wanting to experience one of the more obscure and most special outposts of the world.


Photo by T.Smiley



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