Rakiura covers 85% (157,000 hectares) of Stewart Island, which lies 30 kms off the south coast of the South Island. There is a ferry between the island and Bluff on the mainland. Flights are also available to Stewart Island.
Rakiura is the youngest of the 14 national parks in New Zealand, having been opened in 2002. Prior to its creation most of the land compromised of public reserves and forest parks. The highest point on the island is Mt Anglem reaching 980 metres, with the coastline made up of cliffs and inlets.
Rakiura is the Maori name for the island, which means 'Land of the Glowing Skies'. The name probably refers to the Southern lights which are quite seen from the island. The island is 75 km long and 45 wide, and is home to a population of 400 who mainly live in Oban in Halfmoon Bay.
The island is also home to many species of native birds including the kakariki (parakeet), tui, kereru (wood pigeon), tomtit and weka. Nearby is the protected reserve of Codfish Island where 60 kakapo live, this native species has all but disappeared from the rest of New Zealand.
The main activity on the island is tramping. With 245 kilometres of tracks, the island is a hikers paradise and all of the tracks can be accessed from the only settlement of Oban. The tracks range from easy short walks close to Oban to multi-day remote tracks which require good tramping experience.
There are more walking tracks on the nearby sanctuary of Ulva Island. The sanctuary is managed by DOC.
Oban has a wide range of accommodation from backpackers and camping grounds through to a country-style hotel.