Stewart Island Ideal Place for Kiwispotting
Long-beaked kiwis, which live for up to 30 years and choose mates for life, have been part of the New Zealand landscape for several million years. Tour guide Furhana Ahmad says Stewart Island is one of the best locations in the country to see the birds in their natural habitat.
“They’re generally hard to spot – but not here,” Ahmad says.
Ahmad, a keen birdwatcher, fell in love with Stewart Island while on a backpacking trip and dreamt of making this “green and gorgeous” isle her home.
She’s lived on Stewart Island for more than a decade and now runs a tour company called Ruggedy Range. She and her trained guides take tourists on trips ranging from easy 30-minute forest rambles to challenging 11-night camping hikes deep into Rakiura National Park (including the famed Rakiura Track) with some kayaking required.
A popular “easy” option is neighbouring 770ha Ulva Island. An uninhabited fauna and flora sanctuary, its bird life includes native parrots and a sorely endangered penguin species. “It’s utterly unspoilt – like New Zealand must have been before people arrived,” Ahmad says.
Stewart Island itself, with only 380 residents, was formerly a fishing outpost but in recent years the No. 1 earner has been tourism. Most people live in Oban, the tiny “capital”, with its ferry terminal, pub, museum and a handful of shops.
Original article by Chris Pritchard, Perth Now, March 12, 2016.
Photo by Chris Pritchard.