16.12.2013 - 19.12.2013
Stewart Island is New Zealand's southernmost point and a little pocket of untouched wilderness, the perfect peaceful location for my last few days of solo-travel. Crossing the Foveaux Strait tests the stomachs of even the saltiest sea dogs, although I was sufficiently distracted by the albatrosses that soar over the ferry. Oban Township contains most of the island's 400 residents and has a very Scottish feel.
The island's weather can turn on a sixpence, as my mother would say, but I got enough sunshine to go on a 12km hike along the coastline and through some primitive looking forest, often following the tracks made by the sawmills in the late 1800s.
The island is known for its bird life and I saw (or heard) tui, kaka, wood pigeon and many more that I couldn't begin to identify. The kaka had no fear and regularly came to investigate the garden outside my hostel.
The hostel was small and homely (the island is so safe they didn't even have keys for the rooms) and had both hot water bottles and an extensive DVD collection, ideal for post-hike collapsing. On my last day I walked to Ackers Point, where the lighthouse was airlifted in by helicopter a few years ago. The road signs reflect the traffic issues experienced on the island.
After an equally dodgy crossing back to Bluff (this time briefly accompanied by bottle-nosed dolphins) and a night in Invercargill it was time to head to more family in Dunedin, where Mum and Dad were coming to meet me.