Track, Stewart Island
Distance: 120 km
· Time: 8 - 10 days
· Grade: Medium
· Higest point: 350 m
· Location: Stewart Island
National Park provides a bewildering 245km of walking tracks (compared to
only 25km of road on the island!). This makes Stewart Island a hiking heaven.
The Stewart Island North West Circuit is a 125km, 10 day loop track covering
the top half of the Island. The remoteness, sandy beaches.
sure you are well equipped with waterproofs (it rains 275 days of the year
here) and be prepared to slog up and down slippery gullies, through mud (in
some cases knee deep) and over a generally rough track of roots.
Oban - Port William Hut: 12km, 4hrs
We saved about a hour by catching a shuttle to Lee Bay which costs $20 and
takes up to 4 people (across the road from the DOC office) this allowed us
to skip Port William hut and head straight for Bungaree. Everyone we talked
to wished they had done the same, as the walk of 5 km or so along the road
isn't to exciting.
track starts off by following the coast to Little River and Maori Beach (a
former sawmill settlement). At the north end of the beach you will come across
a swing bridge, cross this and head up the small hill. After 15 minutes or
so you will come to a fork in the track, head straight ahead as the track
on your left is part of the Rakiura Track. Follow Magnetic Beach around and
in about 20 minutes you will come to Port William Hut (great walk hut) 30
William Hut - Bungaree Hut: 6 km, 3 - 4 hrs
This section of the track is mostly through forest and you will get your first
taste of the infamous Stewart Island mud. After slogging your way for about
3 km the track comes to a footbridge, bypasses Little Bungaree Beach and comes
to a headland. Cross over the headland and you will come to Big Bungaree Beach.
Follow this pretty beach for about 20 minutes and you will come to the 20
bunk hut. There is a small bay around the corner which looks like a perfect
place to have a dip.
Hut - Christmas Village Hut: 11.5 km, 6 hr
The track heads inland crossing a few gullies for about 1-2 hours to Murray
Beach. Follow this golden sandy beach for 2 km and just before the end of
it you will see the track heading inland. The track then crosses a swing bridge
over the Murray River. Just over the bridge you will come to a side track,
this leads to an old steam engine. The track then crosses more gullies and
streams for 3 km and you see very little of the coastline. You will then come
to a junction in the track and the short walk leads down to Christmas Village
Hut (16 bunks). The hut is located on a bank above the rocky beach.
Village Hut - Yankee River Hut: 12 km, 6 hr
The track starts of heading up a steep hill and you will come to a junction
to Mt Anglem. We didn't do this side trip as it was raining and there would
of been little chance of any decent views, its 6 - 8 hours return to Mt Anglem,
the highest point on Stewart Island at 980 metres. From the junction of Mt
Anglem it is 5 km of dry and easy going travel through tall rimu's till the
decent into Lucky Beach. Follow this rocky beach for 500 meters over some
boulders till you see the track heading up a steep hill, the track is easy
to miss so if you find yourself heading around the headland you have gone
to far. Once at the top of the hill the track then follows undulating country
to the brown stained Yankee River. Follow the river down for 5 minutes till
you get to Yankee River Hut (20 bunks).
River Hut - Long Harry Hut: 6 km, 4 hr
back up the track till the junction then up the fairly steep headland for
200 meters. It is a easy walk for 1 km till the track decends into the impressive
sand dunes of Smoky Beach. At the other end of the beach you will see the
track across Smoky River, there is a footbridge further up but we found it
easier to just cross the river. The track then climbs steeply for 1 km or
so. Once at the top the track flattens out for about 1 km until you come to
a clearing and see the new Long Harry Hut.
Harry Hut - East Ruggedy Hut: 11 km, 6 hr
The track heads up behind Long Harry Hut for 500 meters then crosses several
gullies for about 1.5 km, some of these gullies are very slippery so take
care. The track then heads inland for 2 km and drops down into a coastline
of boulders, follow this coastline for 1 km. The track the steadily climbs
for 2 km till you come to a lookout that offers superb views of the Rugged
Island and East Ruggedy Beach. The track then drops down into Ruggedy Stream,
follow the buoys over the golden sand for about 1 km and you will come to
East Ruggedy Hut "The Ritz", this lovely cabin style hut has 16
East Ruggedy Hut - Hellfire Pass Hut: 14 km, 7 - 8 hr
This section has been recently changed. The new track now heads down from
Ruggedy Hut to West Ruggedy Beach, and this is another job well done by DOC.
Golden sands, untouched bush and the Rugged Range as a backdrop make this
one of the nicest beaches that I have come across. It's about 1.5 km down
to East Ruggedy Beach from the hut and another 1.5 km stroll along the beach.
The track then winds its way up for about 2 km till it flattens out. It then
gently climbs for 2 km to the 250 m pass and down into Waituna Bay. The next
3.5 km would have to be the most deceiving section of track that I have come
across. From the remote Waituna Bay the track gently climbs for 2 km. Hellfire
Pass Hut (16 bunks) which has views looking out over the Ruggedy Flats.
Hellfire Pass Hut - Mason Bay Hut: 15 km, 7 hr
The track starts off by climbing up through the bush for 1.5 km (we saw 2
kiwi in a Manuka patch at about 6am). Then it follows the ridge around for
another 2 km, occasionally opening up to provide some good views before dropping
down into Little Hellfire Beach. It's 1 km along the beach until the track
then steadily heads up to the top of the headland where you will get your
first view of Mason Bay. The track the drops steeply into Mason Bay and follows
the beach for 4.5 km to the buoys marking the way (1 km) to Mason Bay Hut
24 bunks. If you are feeling fit you can walk to the other end of Mason Bay
to the Gutter and the Earnest Islands (20 km return).
Bay Hut - Freshwater Landing Hut: 14 km, 3 hr - 4 hr
This section is the easiest leg of the track. It starts of by following a
old vehicle track (remnants of a old farm) through open country and stands
of Manuka. It can apparently get quite flooded through here and there are
large sections of boardwalks through the more swampy areas. We never noticed
it but some other trampers we met were quite perplexed by the stream along
side the track, it apparently gives an illusion of flowing uphill. The last
2 km gets a bit monotonous and Freshwater Hut will be a welcome site (12 bunks)
you can get a water taxi from here to Oban (prior booking required).
Landing Hut - North Arm Hut: 11 km, 6 hr - 7 hr
Every guide book and pamphlet we read said that this is the hardest section
and very challenging, I would disagree. Although if it was pouring down I
could imagine it gets quite treacherous. The first 2 km the track gently climbs
up to a river, then it is a short but steep ascent to Thompson Ridge. Then
it just as steeply drops down and follows several bays around to the joining
of the Rakiura Track. The last 1 km to the North Arm Hut (great hut - 30 bunks)
is a breeze.
Arm Hut - Halfmoon Bay: 12 km, 4 hr
This section of the track is also part of the Rakiura Track and being a great
walk is well graded. It starts of by heading over a few headlands and after
2 km drops down into Sawdust Bay. It then climbs up and over a small saddle
and sidles around a couple more bays although you see very little of the coastline.
It is then a straight forward 2 hour walk inland to Oban.
Island Visitor Centre
PO Box 3
Stewart Island, New Zealand
+64 3 219 0002
Fax: +64 3 219 0003