The Rakiura Track is a 32km, 2-3 day circuit on Stewart Island, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Starting / finishing from the only real settlement on the island, the lovely Oban, the track weaves through native bush and follows the coast for sections.
The track is usually walked in an anticlockwise direction but I chose to go clockwise as Port William Hut is nicer, and more sheltered from the wind than the North Arm Hut, and as I found out this approach saved the best section of the track for last.
Oban has a reputation as a wet place, something to do it with raining 200-250 days of the year, but when I tackled the track in mid September I was welcomed with one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.
The first section to North Arm Hut was pleasant enough, if nothing spectacular compared to the other Great Walks.
The second section was a 13km trudge inland, up and down endless steps, with nothing but mud and bush to look at. The only reward was a beautiful rainbow just before reaching the hut.
The third and final section hugs the coast closely and provides a few more sights, including the chain link sculpture, which corresponds with a sculpture in Bluff.
I know others who have done and loved the track but it did little for me, other than getting to explore the delightful Oban. I suspect many wouldn’t have done the track it it wasn’t a Great Walk. It is a great boost to the Stewart Island economy and reason to visit, but isn’t up to the scenic standards set by the others, in my opinion!
Highlights: Some nice coastal views on day one section, loop track from Oban
Lowlights: Day two section is a dull tramp up and down muddy hills with nothing to see other than bush, road sections from Oban to the track were not that long but felt endless
Route taken: One night, stayed at Port William Hut, the track is very doable in two days
Tips: Go clockwise which is opposite to usual route but saves the best bits for the end and Port William Hut is more sheltered than the North Arm Hut