Stewart Island Aurora Hunting Tour

From Invercargill to Invercargill
  • Stewart Island & Chatham Islands
  • Group
  • Wildlife and Nature
  • Southern Lights
View Similar Tours

Tour Description

Stewart Island/Rakiura is the southern-most Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world and offers one of the darkest locations to view the night sky and a fascinating place to spot the Southern Lights.

We are offering you the opportunity to explore the night skies, searching for Aurora Australis and other secrets of the universe.  At the same time spend your days exploring the best Stewart Island has to offer from Kiwi spotting to cruising the Paterson inlet, with some free time to explore at leisure. 

This is a small group tour perfect for those who wanting with witness the world’s most magical phenomena.

 Please note that as we are in nature’s hands we cannot guarantee seeing the Aurora, however these tours are timed close to the new moon when skies are dark, and over the months where Aurora activity is most likely.

The itinerary is flexible, the order of tours may change depending on the weather, and also be prepared to wake at any hour of the night, eg 2am, if the Aurora is active!  We have included a good range of activities to ensure a memorable time on the island regardless.

Aurora photo credits: Sandra Whipp

*Please note: images of the Aurora used were taken by Sandra on Stewart Island, images will appear brighter/with more colour than viewing with the naked eye,  as modern digital cameras and phones have greater sensitivity and can capture more colours and greater contrast.

Viva's Best Bits...

"A local Stewart Island photographer will give you tips on witnessing and photographing Aurora. She will also have a telescope and binoculars available for use. Check out the above Aurora photo taken from her home!" Tara, Team Viva

Stewart Island has lots to offer - Experience kiwis in their natural habitat. The kiwis come out at night to feed. Did you know that Stewart Island has an estimated population of 20,000 kiwis? Your guide will tell you more about these special birds.

Join our exclusive small group tour, maximum 20 guests to Stewart Island/Rakiura - the southern-most Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world. The Aurora can be elusive, but we have allowed 5 nights to increase our chances.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Invercargill Stewart Island

Your journey starts in Invercargill with a 9:30am flight to Stewart Island. The 20 minute flight takes you past Oreti Beach, where world record holder Burt Munro tested his Indian motorcycle, past Bluff, and across Foveaux Strait where the world famous Bluff oysters are harvested.

On arrival to the island take an orientation tour of Oban - New Zealand’s southernmost town, and surrounding bays. Your guide will share their local knowledge of the history and environment of Stewart Island. Stewart Islanders are proud of their island, enjoying its simpler, slower pace. Highlights include Lee Bay, the gateway to Rakiura National Park and stunning views of Paterson Inlet from Observation Rock during this 1 and a half hour tour.

This afternoon check in to the centrally located Bay Motel. Comfortable, modern units offer amazing views over Halfmoon Bay or the surrounding native bush. Other features include a fully equipped kitchenette, central heating, electric blanket, plus complementary tea/coffee along with free wifi. There is also a sheltered courtyard with seating and BBQ.

This evening a welcome dinner is provided at the South Seas Hotel, just a short walk from your accommodation and across from the beach.

Following dinner join your evening 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. If there is Aurora Activity tonight you may have your first chance to see it while on the kiwi spotting tour.

Day 2
Ulva Island Tour

This morning take a short walk to Golden Bay Wharf and set off for an Ulva Island guided walk. Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara), is renowned for its diverse and abundant birdlife with a forest dominated by Rimu, Southern Rata and Kamahi, surrounded by marine reserve. It was visited by Ngai Tahu Maori as part of their food gathering trips and in the 1890s it became one of New Zealand’s first reserves. This 267 hectare island is now predator free, allowing the bird and plantlife to thrive. Today you will be guided by a Stewart Island local, who has the knowledge and know how to take you through Ulva Island, with abundant and colourful birdlife and the impressive forest. You will be transferred to Ulva Island by water taxi before having an informative and interesting walk on this unique island. Returning to Golden Bay Wharf after the tour.

Dinner this evening is included at the South Seas Hotel.

Following dinner transfer to the home of Sandra Whipp, local Stewart Island photographer. Her home is ideally situated to take advantage of the Aurora and the Stewart Island/Rakiura Dark Sky Sanctuary. Sandra will talk to you about her photography and give you tips on witnessing and photographing Aurora.

Day 3
Paterson Inlet, Stewart Island

Today a cruise in Paterson Inlet is included. Visit the Southern Bays of the inlet with wildlife spotting opportunities including the Bottlenose dolphins, New Zealand Sea Lions and Yellow Eyed Penguins. There may also be a chance to see the striking Mollymawk Albatross. The tour will also visit an historic whaling base used by a Norwegian Whaling company in the 1920’s.

This evening you will receive a BBQ pack to cook your own dinner as a group at the Bay Motel.

Day 4
Stewart Island exploration

A full day to explore the Island. You may like to book the optional guided walk (additional charge) to Port William and Maori Beach, one of the most popular coastal and native bush walks on the island. Take a water taxi to Port William, site of an early Maori Settlement, before continuing on to Maori Beach. This was also where early Maori settled and later became a saw milling community in the early 1900s. We then make our way to Lee Bay via Little River, a stunning tidal river mouth, overhanging with Rata trees.
Along the coast lookout for a plethora of birdlife, such as, Mutton birds (Sooty Shearwaters), Shags, Buller’s Mollymawks, Cape Pigeons, and little Blue Penguins. In the native bush you may see and hear Bellbirds, Tui, Fantails, Parakeets, Shining Cuckoos, Grey Warblers, Kaka and Tomtits and more. Cost: NZD 260 per person.

Dinner – own arrangements

If the weather is suitable for Aurora then again visit Sandra Whipp at a time to maximise the Aurora viewing. Sandra will monitor the Aurora throughout your stay on the Island providing updates on best viewing times.

Day 5
Stewart Island - at leisure

Another day at leisure to enjoy the island.

Tonight we enjoy your final meal at the South Seas Hotel and if the weather was unsuitable for Aurora last night then tonight visit Sandra Whipp at a time to maximise the Aurora viewing.

Day 6
Stewart Island Invercargill

After checking out of the Bay Motel this morning transfer to the Stewart Island Flights office for your return flight to Invercargill.

What’s Included

  • Included Copy 20 5 nights Bay Motel, twin room with ensuite
  • Included Copy 31 Single room supplement NZD 600
  • Included Copy 20 Breakfast daily (a basic continental offering in room)
  • Included Copy 20 3 dinners at the South Seas Hotel
  • Included Copy 20 BBQ dinner pack ( meat/salads/veges/bread for you to cook their own dinner)
Fees & Services
  • Included Copy 20 Tour escort with minimum of 8 people booked.
  • Included Copy 20 Return flight from Invercargill to Oban, 15kg check in luggage allowance
  • Included Copy 20 Village and Bays sightseeing tour
  • Included Copy 20 Ulva Island guided walk
  • Included Copy 20 Kiwi Spotting tour at night
  • Included Copy 20 Paterson Inlet cruise
  • Included Copy 31 Port William and Maori Beach guided walk NZD 260 additional
Stewart Island flight


  • Included Kiwi spotting - there are more kiwis on Stewart Island than people
  • Included Ulva Island guided walk - abundant birdlife
  • Included Spend time in the southern-most Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world
  • Included Paterson Inlet cruise - great wildlife spotting opportunities
  • Included Local photographer to give you photography tips
  • Included 5 nights for Aurora spotting opportunities!
Click here for dates & prices

6 days

Price from

$1,946 USD

Per person, sharing

including G.S.T

Select Date