Sanctuary for People and Wildlife

Rakiura National Park

Image © Trish H C

Sanctuary for People and Wildlife

Situated at the very southern end of the country and separated by the tumultuous Foveaux Strait from the country’s two larger main islands is Rakiura Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park. This island is remarkable in that almost the entire surface is covered by natural vegetation with the park providing a connection to the frozen tundra of the Sub-Antarctic Islands. Rakiura National Park was established in 2002 and is New Zealand’s newest national park, covering 1570km2, or 85% of the entire area of Stewart Island.



Since early human arrival to New Zealand people have hunted the titi. This seabird is also known as the sooty shearwater or muttonbird. Maori continue to have legal rights to harvest titi in Rakiura. Traditionally the birds were preserved in kelp bags.

Image © National Library of New Zealand


Because New Zealand split away from other landmasses, the brown coloured Kaka found on Stewart Island has retained many primeval aspects of the parrot genera. One of the best places to see Rakiura’s many native birds is Ulva Island where all invasive pests have been eradicated. As a result both birds and birdsong
is plentiful.

Images © Tomas Sobek (top left),
Christoph Strassler (bottom left), Bernard Spragg (right)

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