We will not be operating any of our experiences for at least the next four weeks (to 24 April), as part of government measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. More information >
Experience Foveaux Strait on board our express catamarans. During the one-hour crossing between Bluff and Stewart Island keep a lookout for wildlife, especially seabirds. Watching mollymawks (albatross) soaring behind the ferry is a fantastic sight.
Comprehensive commentaries provide information on the interesting landmarks commonly seen, including Dog Island Lighthouse, Ruapuke Island, the Titi Islands and Mt Anglem - Stewart Island’s highest point.
Travel to/from Stewart Island is on our modern catamaran ferries
Coach from Invercargill & ferry to Stewart Island.
Coach from Queenstown & ferry to Stewart Island.
Coach from Te Anau & ferry to Stewart Island.
Departing Bluff/Oban: prices valid for travel from 1 Oct 2019 - 30 Sep 2020.
- Adult: NZ$89 (one-way) NZ$159 (return)
- Child: NZ$45 (one-way) NZ$80 (return)
|1 October 2019 - 8 November 2019|
|Departs Bluff:||9.45am & 5.15pm daily (plus 1.30pm 28 Oct only)|
|Departs Stewart Island:||8am & 3.30pm daily (plus 12noon 28 Oct only)|
|9 - 30 November 2019|
|Departs Bluff:||9.45am, 11am & 5.15pm daily|
|Departs Stewart Island:||8am, 3.30pm & 5pm daily|
|1 December 2019 - 29 February 2020|
|Departs Bluff:||9.45am, 11am*, 1.30pm & 5.15pm (plus 8am 26 Dec - 7 Jan only) daily|
|Departs Stewart Island:||8am, 12noon, 3.30pm & 5pm* (plus 9.30am 26 Dec - 7 Jan only) daily|
|1 March 2020 - 30 April 2020|
|Departs Bluff:||9.45am, 11am & 5.15pm daily (plus 1.30pm on 10 Apr & 13 Apr)|
|Departs Stewart Island:||8am, 3.30pm & 5pm daily (plus 12noon on 10 Apr & 13 Apr)|
|1 May 2020 - 30 September 2020|
|Departs Bluff:||9.45am & 4.30pm daily|
|Departs Stewart Island:||8am & 3pm daily|
* except 25 December.
** Please note: Timetable information is indicative and subject to change. For the latest information please refer to the website availability grid for your date of travel. Passengers who pre-book through our website will be updated of any departure changes.
Last update: 24 February 2020Book
- From Bluff: Stewart Island Experience Visitor Terminal - 21 Foreshore Road, Bluff.
- From Stewart Island: Stewart Island Visitor Terminal.
We also operate coach connections (from Invercargill, Queenstown & Te Anau) which meet our ferry arrivals/departures (see "Coach & Ferry Services" below).
Shoes/boots (non-slip), warm clothing/jacket, sunscreen/sunglasses and camera.
Personal baggage is carried free on the ferries - maximum of two bags per person (one stowed and one small carry-on).
For visitors to Stewart Island wishing to bring additional baggage, the transport of these items is by prior arrangement. This service is not available on all ferry departures, due to the size of the vessel and the limited cargo space available.
Additional baggage - prices valid until 30 September 2020.
Vehicle parking is available in Bluff, adjacent to the Bluff Visitor Terminal for self-driving visitors taking the ferry to Stewart Island. Parking is available for cars, boat trailers, coaches, campervans, motorcycles and bicycles. This is an airport-style parking facility, so you collect a ticket on entry and pay when you leave. Vehicle parking cannot be booked in advance.
Prices valid 1 October 2019 - 30 September 2020.
In addition to the Stewart Island Ferry service, we also offer combined 'Coach & Stewart Island Ferry' options departing from Invercargill, Queenstown & Te Anau.
Stewart Island Experience provides a coach service to/from Invercargill which connects with the Stewart Island Ferry (Invercargill - Bluff - Oban / Oban - Bluff - Invercargill). The coach from Invercargill departs 1 hour before the ferry leaves from Bluff. The coach transfer from Bluff to Invercargill returns passengers to Invercargill, one hour after the ferry berths.
Invercargill pick-up / drop off locations are:
Stewart Island Experience & Tracknet provide a coach service to/from Queenstown which connects with the Stewart Island Ferry (Queenstown - Bluff - Oban / Oban - Bluff - Queenstown).
Real Journeys utilises the services of Tracknet to provide a coach service to/from Te Anau which connects to the Stewart Island Ferry from Bluff to Oban.
If you want to depart Queenstown and return to Te Anau (or depart Te Anau and return to Queenstown) etc, then please contact us directly firstname.lastname@example.org as these trips are NOT bookable on the Real Journeys website.
Last update: June 2019Book
Since the epic swim of John van Leeuwen in 1963 only four others have officially swum Foveaux Strait.
The record holder is Southlander Todd Utteridge, who completed the swim in 8 hours 40 minutes in 1989.
3 March 2019
We're seasoned launch owners from Auckland and used to what the Hauraki Gulf can dish up when it misbehaves. Our return trip was in moderate sea and this big cat handled the conditions with ease. Large, comfortable departure lounges in both Bluff and Oban were much appreciated. Staff were friendly and accommodating. We changed the time of our return trip to Bluff - no problem. Recommend.
7 January 2019
Visited Stewart Island with teenage son. Travelled there by ferry. Service was punctual and very professionally run. Something that is essential given the often challenging sea conditions in this area. A most enjoyable experience and one I would recommend.
4 November 2018
We took the ferry to Stewart Island. It takes an hour on a fast ferry. The waters in Fouveaux Strait are rough even on calm days. I do get seasick but sat by a window looking out to the horizon and was fine. Great service by the team at both ports and on the ferry.
6 April 2018
8 March 2018
18 January 2018
5 January 2018
Fantastic service. The staff were really friendly and the bus connections were very smooth. We were collected directly from Invercargil Airport on arrival and dropped to our hostel in Queenstown at the end. Very easy .
I would highly recommend.
4 December 2017
Was picked up from the Invercargill Airport and dropped off at the wharf in Bluff. An 'interesting' trip to Oban-wind and waves but we were all well looked after by the crew!! Left and arrived on time. Loved the bins for the luggage - most efficient.
31 October 2017
We were lucky to travel over on a fine day, and not much wind. The captain of the vessel was able to provide a commentary and points of interest to us as we travelled over. The catamaran was clean. Staff at both terminals provided excellent service.
6 September 2017
Was not looking forward to 55 min ride. Hey time flew and was there before I knew it. Comfortable seating Drinks and nibbles at reasonable price Chance to talk to fellow passengers. Staff very helpful. Toilet available. Saw dolphins.
3 June 2017
From an easy friendly phone call booking the night before to when we returned back to Bluff it was a great experience. Everyone working was engaging & super friendly/helpful. Skipper & crew-who he introduced to us with their names was awesome. Free tea/coffee & they even help you take it back to your seat. Lovely clean boat, the sailing was fab. A wonderful experience, thank you ❤
Visited June 2017
19 May 2017
Excellent service from the Stewart Island ferry company. We broke down en route to the ferry, and they were amazingly helpful on the phone reassuring us that provided we arrived before the ferry left we would get on it.
Lovely staff, spacious well maintained ferry. Thanks so much for a lovely experience.
Visited April 2017
27 April 2017
The catamaran was clean, modern and provided a mixture of mostly individual seating with a few tabled booths (snacks can be purchased with free complimentary tea or coffee available from small bar) as well as outdoor seating- first on best seated!
School holiday periods usually have a special deal where a child travels free with a paying adult, which was great for our group. At $135/adult return trip we thought this was pretty good value and it was a unique way of seeing the mainland as well as other islands including Stewart Island from a different vantage point... and it sure beats swimming!!
Visited April 2017
15 March 2017
Been told all kinds of tales about this trip but we couldn't have asked for better. Smooth fast trip with places of interest pointed out. Friendly staff very helpful. Booked wrong date and they were very kind and rebooked for right day at no extra cost. Thanks ferry people you were great.
Visited March 2017
18 January 2017
On a good day you can get great photos of the sea birds soaring over the straight sit back and relax with a wine or tea and coffee.
The staff are friendly and helpful. Only one hour from Bluff this is a great way to arrive at the Island.
Visited January 2017
5 January 2017
We were picked up as organised from our accomodation in Invercargill and delivered to the Bluff port. The ferry crossing going to Stewart Island was pretty calm and uneventful. Free tea and coffee offered onboard and the captain gave commentary on points of interest. Coming back to Bluff the crossing was quite rough but the boat and captain could obviously handle the conditions so I was not concerned at all. Departure lounges at both ports were good and had brochures on local attractions.
Visited December 2016
29 December 2016
Foveaux Strait is rough so no trip is guaranteed to be comfortable. What I got was a safe ferry operator who was sensible to cancel some sailings in bad weather. So what? We stayed an extra night and spent a little bit extra? The next day was still a rough crossing but we got back safely. The boats (different boat each way) were clean and the crew were top quality and did what they could to help all the many sick people (including my children). Thanks.
Visited December 2016
23 December 2016
As with many things on Stewart island the ferry company is a monopoly with no direct competitor but they do not behave this way. The service is prompt and friendly. Foveaux is a difficult crossing which we experienced both directions. The staff were alert to people feeling or being ill and very very kind discreet and caring to those who were unwell. Also friendly and happy to chat with others who want the skinny on life on the island. Awesome!
Visited December 2016
21 December 2016
On the way over we went on a smaller boat which was great fun. It was a little choppy but there were lots of birds to see. On the return journey we were on a bigger boat the sea was calmer but it didn't seem to ride the waves as well as the smaller one. A place you would probably only visit once in your life so worth doing everything.
Visited December 2016
16 February 2017
Ferry was on time, fast, clean, comfortable. Crew pointed out sights and birds and sealife on the way. I left my camera behind and got it back on the next trip - this probably wouldn't have happened in the US!!
Visited November 2016
15 November 2016
Seamless organisation, meeting the bus connection from Invercargill Airport, through to Bluff then on the ferry across to Stewart Island. A north easterly breeze meant there were a few white caps and a 1m swell. It was a little bumpy getting out of Bluff but then really quite straightforward. We did need to remain seated as the swell meant the boat moved a little unpredictably. I chose to sit out the back as I love the spray and smell of the sea and was not disappointed. I watched an albatross play in the wake and soar and swoop which was a real highlight. I recommend the trip! (For those who get seasick, you would want to take some medication! Staff were attentive and helpful all the way.)
Visited November 2016
29 March 2015
We parked our car at Bluff and took the ferry to the island and vice versa. The ferry is clean and comfortable with toilets (clean) on board. There is a bar with snacks and soft and alcoholic drinks on board at fair prices. The skipper was user friendly and happy to answer any questions. Very punctual and luggage loaded and unloaded very efficiently.
Visited February 2015
In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.
From Invercargill to bluff takes around 30 minutes. From Queenstown to Bluff by car takes around 3 hrs 5 mins and from Dunedin approximately 3 hrs 30 minutes. For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
Yes, day and overnight Stewart Island Ferry page.is located adjacent to the Bluff Visitor Terminal (extra cost) for visitors taking the ferry to Stewart Island. Parking is available for cars, campervans, bicycles, motorcycles, boat trailers and coaches. This is an airport-style parking facility, so you collect a ticket on entry and pay when you leave. Vehicle parking cannot be booked in advance. Prices for parking and additional baggage can be found on the "More Info" tab of our
For visitors travelling on the Stewart Island Ferry Service, you are required to check in 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time (to allow for luggage loading, etc). The check in and boarding gates are closed 10 minutes prior to scheduled ferry departure. For all our cruises and tours, check in is required 20 minutes prior to the schedule departure.
No, we only carry passengers and light freight on the ferry services between Bluff and Stewart Island. Rental cars and motor scooters are available for hire from our Oban Visitor Centre.
Yes, we offer coach transfers between Queenstown, Te Anau, Invercargill and Bluff (extra cost). The Invercargill – Bluff coach service operates for each ferry departure and arrival. Pick-ups and drop-offs are available from several Invercargill accommodation properties and the Invercargill i-Site Visitor Centre.
We operate a coach transfer service from Invercargill to Bluff, connecting with each ferry sailing. If you need to be collected or dropped off at Invercargill Airport, please let us know at the time of your booking.
Stewart Island Experience's vessels are specially designed to operate on Foveaux Strait. We are committed to providing visitors with a safe and comfortable crossing. If, on rare occasions, a scheduled departure is cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, visitors will be rebooked onto a later trip or refunded in full. Please ensure your contact details are provided at the time of booking so that we can contact you to advise of any delays or cancellations.
There is an ATM/money machine in Bluff's "4 Square" shop however it is only possible to withdraw cash with a NZ bank card. You can purchase your ferry tickets at the Bluff Visitor Terminal using both EFTPOS and Credit Cards. The nearest bank is located at Invercargill.
Yes, most places on Stewart Island have EFTPOS and credit card facilities. There is an ATM/money machine at the "4 Square" shop on Stewart Island however it is only possible to withdraw cash with a NZ bank card. There are no banks on the island itself and the nearest bank is located at Invercargill.
Yes, there is a general grocery store, cafés and restaurants and a Kai cart (take-aways summer only).
There are a huge range of activities available on Stewart Island, from kayaking, fishing trips, golf, walking tracks and more. To find out more information and to make bookings, we operate the Oban Visitor Centre. The Department of Conservation (DoC) also operates a Visitor Information Centre and can provide more information on walking tracks and activities.
Yes, there are many activities you can fit into one day on Stewart Island. Ask our reservations team for suggested itineraries.
Stewart Island is not the place for a shopping spree as there is a very small range of shops - from small gift shops with locally produced items to the general store for groceries and fresh food.
Here's a few handy hints to help motion sickness: Ginger is known to contain properties to alleviate nausea. It is available in a number of different forms - from tablets, powder and capsules, which are sold at pharmacies and supermarkets. These need to be taken before your trip, sometimes a few hours before travelling. Other recommendations to reduce motion sickness include not travelling on an empty stomach, as gastric juices can promote nausea. Whilst on the ferry, if possible, sit outside on the back deck to breathe fresh air. Look out to the horizon, rather than looking at the boat's movement in the water.
Yes. Please notify us beforehand to ensure we can assist you.
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
Our staff are trained to deal with incidents and in case of an emergency you should listen to their instructions.
We have a portable defibrillator on each of our overnight cruise vessels (Milford Mariner, Milford Wanderer and Fiordland Navigator).
In addition to this we also have portable defibrillators at the following locations:
• Milford Sound Visitor Terminal
• Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Manapouri
• Cavern House (Te Anau Glowworm Caves)
• Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, Walter Peak
• TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship
• Stewart Island Ferry (Bluff - Oban - Bluff).