HikingNew ZealandPhotographyTramping

North West Circuit – Rakiura

By January 16, 2015 2 Comments

Over the Christmas/New Year break and in between finishing some design projects and prepping for my long-term Te Araroa trail excursion Hana and I decided to return to Stewart Island for a tramping trip on the classic North West Circuit, 14 years after our previous journey there. I’d been back to photograph Mt Anglem for Our Mountains but that had been a lightning trip along ground I’d covered once before. This time we water taxied into Bungaree Hut on the NW circuit’s eastern side and walked to Christmas Village Hut the same day. Over the following 6 days we walked anticlockwise around the circuit, finishing at Freshwater Hut and watertaxiing back out.

It was great to see some sections of the island for the first time and the diversity of the landscape, the coastline, the bush and the ecosystems really hit home this trip. It is an incredible environment to tramp in and must be the best coastal tramp in New Zealand. It was a real bonus to have three separate daytime kiwi encounters (Stewart Island kiwi feed during the day, and night) as well as a general abundance of other bird life.

Hope you enjoy the photos.

First evening on the island. This stretch of bouldery beach is just along from Christmas Village Hut.

First evening on the island. This stretch of bouldery beach is just along from Christmas Village Hut.

Sunrise at Christmas Village.

Sunrise at Christmas Village.

Christmas Village beach, heading back to the main track for the route over to Yankee River Hut.

Christmas Village beach, heading back to the main track for the route over to Yankee River Hut.

Coastal bush and crown ferns on the route to Yankee River Hut.

Coastal bush and crown ferns on the route to Yankee River Hut.

Coastal bush on the route to Yankee River Hut.

Coastal bush on the route to Yankee River Hut.

Supplejack tangled coastal forest.

Supplejack tangled coastal forest.

Evening on the beach below Yankee River Hut.

Evening on the beach below Yankee River Hut.

Sunset at Yankee River.

Sunset at Yankee River.

Rakiura, the Maori name for Stewart Island, translates to Land of the Glowing Skies.

Rakiura, the Maori name for Stewart Island, translates to Land of the Glowing Skies.

Dawn at Yankee River.

Dawn at Yankee River.

Great to be on Rakiura while the rata is flowering in abundance, bringing bursts of colour to the bush.

Great to be on Rakiura while the rata is flowering in abundance, bringing bursts of colour to the bush.

Southern Rata on the track between Yankee River and Long Harry Huts.

Southern Rata on the track between Yankee River and Long Harry Huts.

Seal(?) skeleton on Smoky Beach.

Seal(?) skeleton on Smoky Beach.

Smoky Beach.

Smoky Beach.

Cliffs, Long Harry Bay.

Cliffs, Long Harry Bay.

Long Harry Bay.

Long Harry Bay.

Long Harry Hut and wind sculpted coastal bush.

Long Harry Hut and wind sculpted coastal bush.

Sea stacks, Long Harry Bay.

Sea stacks, Long Harry Bay.

Headland at sunset, Long Harry Bay.

Headland at sunset, Long Harry Bay.

Rakiura's beaches all differ in character, keeping the tramping constantly interesting. This rugged stretch is between Long Harry and East Ruggedy Huts.

Rakiura’s beaches all differ in character, keeping the tramping constantly interesting. This rugged stretch is between Long Harry and East Ruggedy Huts.

Looking over East Ruggedy Beach and the Ruggedy Islands. Codfish Island just visible behind.

Looking over East Ruggedy Beach and the Ruggedy Islands. Codfish Island just visible behind.

Dunes and pingao grass at East Ruggedy.

Dunes and pingao grass at East Ruggedy.

Driftwood, East Ruggedy.

Driftwood, East Ruggedy.

Dunes and Ruggedy Islands. East Ruggedy Beach.

Dunes and Ruggedy Islands. East Ruggedy Beach.

Tramping into West Ruggedy Beach.

Tramping into West Ruggedy Beach.

Kiwi footprints. West Ruggedy.

Kiwi footprints. West Ruggedy.

Approaching West Ruggedy Beach.  14 years earlier we'd flown onto this beach and then walked in the other direction (clockwise) back to Oban. It was neat to be back again.

Approaching West Ruggedy Beach. 14 years earlier we’d flown onto this beach and then walked in the other direction (clockwise) back to Oban. It was neat to be back again.

West Ruggedy Beach.

West Ruggedy Beach.

West Ruggedy Beach and cliffs.

West Ruggedy Beach and cliffs.

The forest along the ridge line as you approach Big Hellfire Hut is particularly enchanting.

The forest along the ridge line as you approach Big Hellfire Hut is particularly enchanting.

Big Hellfire Hut.

Big Hellfire Hut.

Looking southeast into Ruggedy Flat and the island's remote interior from Big Hellfire Pass.

Looking southeast into Ruggedy Flat and the island’s remote interior from Big Hellfire Pass.

Looking west at sunset from Big Hellfire Pass. These dunes have formed in the pass and along the ridge 200 vertical metres above the sea.

Looking west at sunset from Big Hellfire Pass. These dunes have formed in the pass and along the ridge 200 vertical metres above the sea.

Rimu on the ridge beyond Big Hellfire Hut.

Rimu on the ridge beyond Big Hellfire Hut.

First view into Mason Bay. The route follows a bouldery beach and the sand as it arcs around the bay.

First view into Mason Bay. The route follows a bouldery beach and the sand as it arcs around the bay.

Bouldery beach, Mason Bay.

Bouldery beach, Mason Bay.

The historic Island Hill homestead on the inland route behind Mason Bay.

The historic Island Hill homestead on the inland route behind Mason Bay.

Boardwalk protected swamp en route to Freshwater Hut.

Boardwalk protected swamp en route to Freshwater Hut.

On our last day we water taxied out from Freshwater Hut late morning and then spent the rest of the day on the Ulva Island bird sanctuary. Managed to tick the South Island saddleback, Stewart Island robin, kaka, kakariki and weka.

On our last day we water taxied out from Freshwater Hut late morning and then spent the rest of the day on the Ulva Island bird sanctuary. Managed to tick the South Island saddleback, Stewart Island robin, kaka, kakariki and weka.

Stewart Island robin, Ulva Island.

Stewart Island robin, Ulva Island.

Fishing boat at Golden Bay. A final evening wandering around Oban rounded our week's visit nicely.

Fishing boat at Golden Bay. A final evening wandering around Oban rounded our week’s visit nicely.

Sunset at Vaila Voe Bay.

Sunset at Vaila Voe Bay.

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