On Stewart Island you don’t have to take off onto the Rakiura Great Walk or head out to sea, but can do a number of local tracks along the bays and through the forest. To complement the walk around a few of the bays south of Halfmoon Bay, I combined four local tracks into a 14 km walk on 24 December 2014. The weather turned out to be brilliant and the sun was out already in the morning. It was the hottest day so far, but since much of the walking would be in the forest, I was not concerned too much with the heat.
I started out in town on the short Fuchsia Track which morphed into the Raroa Track that culminated at Thule Bay where the Ryans Creek Track starts. The latter was the longest track of them all that day. It took me along the coast high up in the forest with occasional glimpses of the islands in Paterson Inlet and a few dips down to some bays. Catching sight of the islands in the inlet and the many bays was always a highlight. The sea was very calm and thus you could feel the tranquility. No wonder that the Stewart Island brochure calls it “island of tranquility”.
Ryans Creek was pretty unremarkable, and the second part of the track was easy on flat ground so that I was finished rather quickly and decided to make the walk slightly longer by going on the Kaipipi Track to Kaipipi Bay which is part of the way to the North Arm that forms one leg of the Rakiura Great Walk. Unfortunately, the Kaipipi Track is not a round trip one so that I had to go back the same way that I had come.
When timber milling was an important income for islanders, the Kaipipi Track was one of the most important and most traveled roads on the entire island. Timber was shipped out of a large wharf at Kaipipi Bay and people went between Kaipipi Bay and Halfmoon Bay very frequently. It’s not exactly a short stroll as it takes you about 3 hours round trip to Halfmoon Bay with some stops in between and moderate walking. Back then when you walked it every day, you would have made it quite a bit faster.
There was not much variety in scenery along the way as the track was completely through forest and not along the coast. However, you could hear numerous different birds sing and marvel at the trees in the rainforest.
If you want to read more about my vacation on Stewart Island, check out the following posts:
- Heading to the anchor of New Zealand
- Talkative forest
- From bay to bay
- 81 mouse traps to Māori Beach
- Albatrosses aplenty
- Christmas Day: A horseshoe and a dead man
- Catch of the day: Blue Cod
- A word on sandflies
- A Local’s Tail and take-off
- Stewart Island / Rakiura in photos and videos
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