New Zealand

Travel to Stewart Island: Group Tour or Independent Tour with Viva

Tara Sutherland

Tara Sutherland  |  8 September 2021

Have you seen a kiwi in the wild? Watched as an albatross swoop to fish? Woken up to the antics of a Kākā bird? If you have not discovered Rakiura, Stewart Island yet, then it is time you did, with a Stewart Island tour!

Kaka Bird

Rakiura, Stewart Island is a must visit destination in New Zealand. There is something a little different, off the beaten track, right at the end of New Zealand, which leads to a different pace of life and a sense of being far away from the rest of the world. Visiting Stewart Island is a reminder of what small town New Zealand life used to be like many years ago, alongside untouched beaches, coves and inlets, native forest and endemic wildlife.

 So, what’s the best way to visit Stewart Island? Group tour or independent tour? Both are a fantastic way to travel to Stewart Island, the choice is really yours.

Maori Bay

Stewart Island Group Tours with Viva

Travelling on one of our group tour packages to Stewart Island means you have a tour escort that is there to help you with anything you may need, and to make sure everything runs smoothly while you relax and enjoy the trip. The tour escort is there for the co-ordination of the tour, while Viva also utilizes local guides to explore Stewart Island more depth. For example, a local guide will take you out at night to a special exclusive access area, known for great kiwi spotting opportunities. This guide will also be a specialist in kiwis and will answer any questions you may have about the sounds you may hear them making, and their behaviour. Another local guide will accompany you on a Stewart Island cruise to Paterson Inlet, looking out for sea lions, albatross, Little Blue penguins and more, alongside learning about the fascinating early whaling stories of the island. Yet another guide will take you to walk the forests of Ulva Island, and is an expert in spotting all the birds you will find; yellowheads, saddleback and more. Ulva Island is a stunning pest free island sanctuary, and while you can take a ferry there yourself, you might not be so good at spotting all the wildlife! On some of our group tours, we are even invited into the home of a 3rd generation Stewart Island family and hear stories of life over the years – often a tour highlight and an opportunity to connect to locals!

Stewart Island Group Tour

Travelling on a Viva Expeditions small group tour, allows you authentic local experiences with the confidence that you will be well looked after. Our group tours of Stewart Island are popular with all, solo travellers, couples, and friends. Some people who have been unsure of group tours have fed back that, a Viva small group tour, was their first group tour, and a great surprise, not what they had expected. Why? Here at Viva, we don’t want to be herding you on and off buses all day! We do have a programme of some scheduled activities, but we also like to allow some free time, meals on your own account, also free days. Our friendly Viva escort will be there to chat with you about your interests and help you with exciting ideas for your free exploration time.

Do you want to add in fishing, perhaps kayaking, but there is a minimum number required for the activity…well, you have a new group of friends, and your guide should be able to sort something out for you!

Kiwi on the beach stewart island

Stewart Island Independent Tours with Viva

The dates don’t suit to join small group adventure holiday or just want to do your own thing? Then we have a range of tailor-made tours on offer, these depart daily, year-round and we can adjust these to suit your needs. A tailor-made, or independent Stewart Island tour, means we take care of the planning for you, and can offer you lots of advice from our personal experience. We will book our recommended tours for you based on your interests, and local guides will be there with their local stories and knowledge. We can leave as much free time as you want, so you can go out and explore, or even suggest many of the great local walks for you to do.

Ulva Island Beach

 Here at Viva Expeditions, we are Stewart Island destination specialists, having visited there ourselves, as well as having escorted multiple small group tours. Let us share the magic of Rakiura, Stewart Island with you!

 “The face of the earth is changing so rapidly that soon there will be little of primitive nature left. In the Old World, it is practically gone forever. Here, then, is Stewart Island’s prime advantage, and one hard to overestimate. It is an actual piece of the primeval world.”

Leonard Cockayne 1909

Learn more about our Stewart Island group and independent tours here.

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