At dusk depart Halfmoon Bay in our catamaran for a cruise across Paterson Inlet to Little Glory Cove. During the cruise pass Ulva Island (a predator-free sanctuary) and learn about Stewart Island's rich history. Once at Little Glory Cove, disembark onto a wharf at the southern part of the peninsula known as The Neck.
The walk, led by your nature guide, is on a well-formed track across the peninsula, through spectacular coastal forest to a secluded sandy beach.
As dusk sets in and daylight diminishes, venture by torchlight through the native forest with the stars and forest night sounds around you. The walk will take about 45 minutes one-way and the track emerges on to Ocean Beach. This wide sandy beach is where kiwi are often found feeding among the grasses and seaweed.
Here in the darkness you will get to see the Southern brown kiwi (Rakiura Tokoeka) - often searching for food.
Afterwards retrace your steps through the forest to Little Glory Wharf for your catamaran ride back to Oban.
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.
Rakiura is the Maori name for Stewart Island. It translates as the Land of the Glowing Skies.
Stewart Island Experience, Main Wharf, Oban.
Depart and return times vary depending on sunset, weather and kiwi behaviour.
A reasonable level of fitness is required (total walking time approximately 2 hours depending on kiwi behaviour). The walking track can be uneven and muddy at times, therefore please ensure you wear adequate footwear and are dressed for warmth including a wind and waterproof jacket. On occasions we may need to cancel a trip due to weather - please ensure that you provide contact information, so that we can keep you updated.
Any individual in the group who does NOT see a kiwi, we will refund 100% of the Wild Kiwi Encounter price.
The Rakiura Tokoeka is found on Stewart Island. They stand approximately 40cm tall, weigh 4kg and their beak is 18-20cm long. Stewart Island tokoeka are stocky round birds and one of the largest variants of the Southern brown kiwi, with females reaching weights of over 4kg. Tokoeka means "weka with a walking stick" which references their long beak.
Tokoeka are a taonga species (a natural treasure and highly valued) for Rakiura Maori.
The kiwi relies on a highly developed sense of smell and touch, rather than sight. They have whiskers on their face and around the base of its beak. The kiwi is the only bird in the world with external nostrils at the tip of its beak. Kiwi tap the ground with their beak, probing the soil to find worms or other invertebrates under the surface. They build burrows like a badger, and sleep standing up.
Kiwi are omnivores. Their stomachs contain grit and small stones, to help in the digestion process. Most of their food is invertebrates and especially native worms. The Rakiura Tokoeka are closely related to Fiordland Tokoeka, however genetic research has suggested that these Stewart Island birds are genetically different - enough to consider them as a separate species.
Kiwi face threats from three directions: predators, loss of habitat and people. The main predators are stoats, cats and dogs – which take a heavy toll on young birds during their first three months of life. Even rats have a major impact on food supply by removing the forage layer of invertebrates.