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Rakiura National Park

Rakiura National Park on Stewart Island is the 14th of New Zealand's national parks, and was officially gazetted on February 28, 2002 and opened on March 9, 2002.

The park covers about 157,000ha and makes up about 85 percent of the island. It encompasses a network of former nature reserves, scenic reserves, and State Forest areas. Although the island lies only 30 kilometres south west of Bluff, between latitudes 46 and 47 degrees south, it could well be in another part of the world.

From the South Island it can be seen on most days as a mysterious jagged, dark blue lump on the horizon. When the weather drives in from the Southern Ocean the island disappears behind low cloud and grey sheets of cold rain. On clear summer days the island seems very close and shines an inviting blue-green, topped by rocky mountain peaks.

To the north is often stormy Foveaux Strait and the South Island, to the east, west and south lies the endless tracts of unforgiving Southern Ocean. Sea-pounded cliffs and sandy beaches make up the western coast while on the eastern side of the island there are three sheltered inlets. Paterson Inlet, with a 160km shoreline, is the largest. The other two are Port Adventure and Port Pegasus. From the head of Paterson Inlet the Freshwater Valley extends westwards dividing the northern rangelands and the high country to the south.

The highest peak is in the north, Mt Anglem/Hananui at 980m. On the western side, Mason Bay's sprawling, soaring dunes form another impressive landform and towards the centre of the island are the expansive Freshwater wetlands. The jagged skyline of the Ruggedy Mountains of the north-west corner contrast with the smooth outline of Mt. Anglem with its twin lakes, a hint of a glacial past. The rivers and streams run brown with forest tannin.

The northern half of the island is covered by podocarp and hardwood forest, featuring New Zealand's southernmost tall trees - rimu, kahikatea and totara. The remaining areas of the island feature shrubland or low forest, grassland, wetland, alpine herbfield/ cushionfield, and coastal or duneland communities

Things to do in Rakiura National Park:

  • From the town of Oban try some 245km of walking tracks
  • Watch the Kiwi feeding on the beach at twilight
  • Visit Ulva Island, great for New Zealand native birds
  • Listen to the bird life at night (Moreporks, Weka and Kiwi)
  • Dive the great clear waters

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