Stewart Island facilities have surprised me. For such a small community – around 400 permanent inhabitants – there is everything here one might need on a daily basis. As long as ones needs are not outlandish. For instance, the local four square shop is great. We have yet to want to purchase something we have not found. And the astonishing thing has been the prices because they appear to be very little above what is charged in supermarkets in Invercargill. As far as accommodation goes, we can only comment on the bed and breakfast where we are staying. Jo and Andy’s B&B. An older house which some might call quirky, but what caught our eye was the multitude of books. Apparently Jo and Andy have always loved books. To the extent their house is overflowing with them. Very experienced hosts, they provided accommodation to visitors to Stewart Island for over 30 years. Jo has a particular way of making one feel at home. A very gracious host, some of the tales she has shared with us might well appear in one of my books. A couple of those stories have been hilarious. I just hope I can remember them for later. We’ve loved staying at Jo and Andy’s and I can tell you, we’d be back here in a heartbeat.
Stewart Island of Old
Civilisation on Stewart Island appears to go back to the 13th century with local Maori survived on the rich natural resources. From the early 19th century the island became home to sealers, whalers, missionaries and miners. Apparently many originated from Scotland, hence the township name Oban, being a Gaelic term for “small bay”. Next, sawmills drew more settlers and soon fishing became a mainstay for the community. Today many locals are fishermen, work on the mussel and salmon farms, are involved in the conservation of the Rakiura National Park or work in the growing tourism industry.
Our Little Tour
There are many options of things to do here. We chose some of the less energetic pursuits. We decided to flag the seven day hike, the three day hike and most of the other vigorous and dynamic choices available. I can pretend this was because of our sick son, but of course, any who know me will quickly assume the truth. I’m too unfit and lazy to exert myself so much, even for the chance to see some truly beautiful scenery. As well as some short walks we did do a “village and bays tour” which cost $49 and lasted 90 minutes. As well as an interesting commentary we visited Observation Rock – so pleased I didn’t attempt to walk up this “mountain”, Lonnekers Beach, Butterfield Beach, Mill Creek, Horseshoe Bay and Lee Bay. Lee Bay is the beginning of all the National Park walking tracks. Even with weather far from perfect, the sights were still so worth visiting.