Stewart Island & the Catlins: Small Group Tour

From Invercargill to Dunedin
  • Otago & Alpine Region
  • Stewart Island & Chatham Islands
  • Small Group Tours
  • Wildlife and Nature
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Tour Description

Our small group tour of the Deep South explores Rakiura Stewart Island and the remote Catlin's, over 7 days filled with of wild nature and wildlife.

We journey from Invercargill, where we meet for dinner. The next day, take to the air and fly low over Foveaux Strait, for great vistas of Stewart Island. 

Three nights on Rakiura, Stewart Island allows time for kiwi spotting, walking to hidden bays and coves, listening to bird song on Ulva Island, eating fresh Blue Cod at the pub, and learning about all the charms and quirks of local life on this island, the home of more kiwis than people! By ferry to Bluff, it is then off to explore the remote coastlines, forests and striking wild vistas of the Catlin's. Dunedin, full of cultural history and natural beauty is our last stop. Witness the majestic Northern Royal Albatross at the only mainland breeding colony of the species in the world. 

Join us on days full of discovery, adventure, stunning wild landscapes, hidden bays and beaches and uncommon wildlife!

Viva's Best Bits...

Explore the Deep South; Stewart Island & the wild windswept Catlins. Highlights include the wildlife sanctuary of Ulva Island, rich in birdlife and rare plants, also Curio Bay and Nugget Point and its photogenic lighthouse.

Opportunities to see such a range of wildlife; kaka, kakariki, saddleback, tomtit, robins, albatross, dolphins, fur seals and penguins. Stewart Island offers a rare chance to see kiwis in the wild.

One of our favourite places here at Viva -Stewart Island! Its the land of glowing skies, so get up for sunrise! Also a Dark Sky reserve, be sure to check out the Milky Way too. During the day, the bays, forests & beaches are great to explore!

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Arrival Invercargill

Once in Invercargill, you will arrive at your centrally located Kelvin Hotel where dinner will be included.
Enjoy a welcome dinner with your tour escort and group.
Overnight at Kelvin Hotel, breakfast included.

Day 2
Invercargill Stewart Island

Enjoy breakfast at our hotel, before transferring to Invercargill airport for our flight to Rakiura, Stewart Island.

A spectacular 20-minute flight will see us flying low over Oreti Beach, the test track for world record holder Burt Munro, and Foveaux Strait, in a small wing aircraft, a 9-seater
Britten Norman Islander. You will see the forested hills and bays of Rakiura as you come into land, certainly an exciting start to a Stewart Island adventure.
**Please note there is a 15kg per person checked in luggage limit**

Then the days of explorations begin by getting to know this charming island and her stories, on a
Villages and Bays tour. We will explore Oban and the surrounding bays and our local guide will share their local knowledge and help us gain an entertaining insight into New Zealand’s southernmost community. Stewart Islanders are proud of their island, enjoying its simpler, slower pace. During your tour, there is plenty of time available for photo stops and short walks. Highlights include Lee Bay, the gateway to Rakiura National Park and stunning views of Paterson Inlet from Observation Rock.

There is time for a lunch break in town, before we head out onto the water to explore the bays of Paterson Inlet, Whaler Base, and learn more of the fascinating local history. Discover a little-known part of Stewart Island’s fascinating history: between 1923 and 1933 the Ross Sea Whaling Company of Norway made 9 expeditions to Antarctica while using a base in Paterson Inlet. The ‘Whaler’s Base’ was used to repair the whale chasers in between seasons.

There is some time at your leisure to settle into the island life. Perhaps take a short stroll and enjoy a local meal, there are always great local seafood and other options available at the South Sea pub or places like the "kai kart".

Day 3
Stewart Island

Enjoy waking up to breakfast, and most likely the sound of the local native Kaka birds from your room! Keep an eye out early for a stunning sunrise too - after all you are in Rakiura - the land of the glowing skies!

Today it is time to visit another highlight, the renowned bird sanctuary of Ulva Island.
It is a leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet, past hidden coves and unspoilt beaches to get to Ulva. While on board, keep a lookout for fur seals, penguins and other wildlife, as sightings are common.

Then disembark at Ulva Island, a renowned wildlife sanctuary for a 45-minute guided walk with a specialist nature guide. View rare plants and rich birdlife, including the inquisitive weka, which are often seen on the beach.

For the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet, relax on board our modern catamaran and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to base.

The rest of the day is at your leisure. There is so much to do, just ask your guide for any help you may need.
This evening will likely be one of the highlights, as we head out in small groups on a kiwi spotting tour. This tour offers you a special opportunity to experience kiwi in their natural environment. We have exclusive access to private land where New Zealand’s precious kiwi come out at night to feed.

Day 4
Stewart Island

Rise and is going to be another wonderful day in Rakiura.

Take a local walk, perhaps to the lighthouse, or to stunning Bathers Beach, there are so many trails to take...if you are keen on hiking, you could even book a guided walk to Port William & Maori Beach - it’s one of our favourites! The local museum, art galleries and quirky movie theatre are all worth a visit. Nature lovers, there are so many options, another cruise, or even a return trip to Ulva Island is a popular choice. Keen on something more adventurous - how about snorkelling, fishing or kayaking?

The great thing is, you have an expert guide to help you plan, and a day to do as you please!

Day 5
Stewart Island, Bluff, Dunedin

Enjoy breakfast at the motel before the next leg of our journey, the ferry from Stewart Island to Bluff.

Experience a one-hour crossing of Foveaux Strait onboard a catamaran. Onboard commentary will point out interesting landmarks commonly seen, including Dog Island Lighthouse, Ruapuke Island, the Titi Islands and Mt Anglem - Stewart Island’s highest point, and of course, always look out for wildlife - watching mollymawks (albatross) soaring above the ferry is a fantastic sight.

On arrival in Bluff, you will be met by our coach and driver. From Bluff you will travel north along the magical Catlins Coast. Today’s journey will take you to Dunedin via the Catlins Coast and Southern Coastal Scenic Route.

The Catlins cover the bottom South East corner of the South Island. This is a relatively unknown gem of New Zealand and today you will travel through the area stopping at stunning coastal viewpoints, and for a few walks as we go. The itinerary is flexible based the day and the group, however most likely will include highlights such as Curio Bay and Nugget Point and its photogenic lighthouse. Continue to Dunedin.

Day 6

Today you will explore the cultural history and natural beauty of the ‘Edinburgh of the South’.

Today we will visit the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula. Your visit will include a fully guided tour; short film, presentation on the Albatross breeding cycle and short walk up the hill for viewing from the exclusive glassed albatross observatory, and then continuing through the underground fort tunnels to see the fully restored Armstrong Disappearing Gun and learn all about the fascinating history of Taiaroa Head.

After your tour there will be time for lunch at the Albatross Colony cafe (at own expense) prior to heading to Larnach Castle on the Otago Peninsula. Larnach Castle sits above MacAndrew Bay and Portobello, it has an exciting, sometimes scandalous and tragic history, magnificent carved ceilings, New Zealand antiques and breath-taking views. The Castle offers you a vision of the past and present. Today, it is the home of the Barker family, who have spent forty-five years lovingly restoring the building and recreating the beauty of the 14 hectares of gardens and grounds. Your visit to Larnach Castle will include a guided tour.

After your visit to the castle you will return to the hotel, where you will have the rest of the afternoon at leisure. You may choose to take the opportunity to explore the near-by city centre or relax at the hotel.
A Farewell Dinner is included this evening at your hotel.

Day 7
Depart Dunedin

After breakfast this morning you will be transferred to the airport for your onward journey.

What’s Included

  • Included Copy 20 6 nights in 3 star accommodation
  • Included Copy 31 Single room supplement NZD 872
  • Included Copy 20 Daily breakfast, 2 dinners
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Small group tour, minimum 10 maximum 15 passengers
  • Included Copy 20 Flight from Invercargill to Oban, 15kg check in luggage allowance
  • Included Copy 20 Tour escort for the duration of the tour
  • Included Copy 20 Return from Oban to Bluff by ferry
  • Included Copy 20 Transport in modern A/C vehicle
  • Included Copy 20 Tours as per the itinerary
  • Included Copy 7 International Flights, Visa and reciprocity fees (if applicable), tips, travel insurance
Stewart Island flight


  • Included Stewart Island Village and Bays Sightseeing Tour
  • Included Cruise Paterson Inlet on a Whaler’s Base History Tour
  • Included Tour from Bluff to Dunedin via the remote and windswept Catlins Coast
  • Included Kiwi spotting - there are more kiwis on Stewart Island than people
  • Included Wildlife spotting: birdlife galore on Ulva Island, penguins, sea lions, albatross & more!
  • Included Visit the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsula
  • Included Larnach Castle guided tour
Click here for dates & prices

7 days

Price from

$2,256 USD

Per person, sharing

including G.S.T

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