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Kiwi, Dunes &  Beach

Page updated: 2 October 2016

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About Mason Bay

About Kiwi

Trip Details: Kiwi, Dunes & Beach

Trip Details: Kiwi Journey

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Kiwi Spotting - Stewart Island Kiwi Sun Orchids, Stewart Island

About Mason Bay

Mason Bay is situated on the west coast of Stewart Island. It has approx. 14 kms of beach, one of the most extensive natural sand dune systems in New Zealand, native coastal plants, some seabirds and a healthy population of kiwi. A great place to go kiwi spotting, enjoy the stunning seascape, watch the surface crash on the beach and feel at one with nature!

Our trips provide an opportunity to discover kiwi habitat, listen to a kiwi calling in the night and with some luck actually seeing a kiwi. More than just a kiwi spotting trip, we provide a chance for you to view an array of ecosystems and wilderness habitats, from east to west and across Stewart Island's interior, and to to see other native birds and plants.

We offer two similar options for the Mason Bay trip, Kiwi Journey (one night trip) and Kiwi, Dunes and Beach (two night trip).

We also recommend that you come on one of our Ulva Island - Birds & Forest guided walks before coming on a Mason Bay Kiwi Spotting Trip to appreciate the diversity of ecosystems on Stewart Island. See Optons & Prices.

About Kiwi

Related to the extinct moa, kiwi are New Zealand's most ancient bird, having evolved 30 million years ago. To Maori, kiwi are known as "te manu huna a Tane" the hidden bird of Tane, probably because of the bird's nocturnal and shy nature. Due to New Zealand's long period of isolation and lack of mammals, kiwi occupy a habitat and lifestyle which mammals have occupied elsewhere.

The Stewart Island Tokoeka, is one of several varieties of kiwi found only in New Zealand. Although kiwi are nocturnal, the Stewart Island Tokoeka is known to be active during the day and night. Find out more about this fascinating bird on one of our trips.

Guide showing kiwi footprints on dunes at Mason Bay
Mason Bay Beach

TRIP DETAILS: Kiwi, Dunes & Beach

Trip Summary KIWI, DUNES & BEACH
Fly in / Boat out
(RECOMMEND: Ulva Island Bird & Forest trip, prior to this trip)
Duration 2 Nights, over 3 Days
Distance Day 1: Flight to Mason Bay, walk 3 - 10 kms (2 - 6 miles) to hut and 3 5 kms (2 3 miles) for kiwi spotting.
Day 2: approx. 10 to 25 kms (6.5 to 15.5 miles), subject to activity around Mason Bay, beach and dunes (without packs).
Day 3: 15.5 kms (10 miles) to Freshwater Landing.
Time Mason Bay beach landings are only at low tides. Trips usually depart early later afternoon Day 1 and return midday Day 3.
Start/End Oban, Halfmoon Bay
Fitness Good especially for the hike to Freshwater Landing
Terrain Beach and dunes at Mason Bay. Flat rough ground over wetland to Freshwater Landing, muddy in places with some boardwalk and occasional surface water.
Adult NZ $1,200.00 p.p.
Child NZ $990.00 p.p.
Includes Shuttle transfer to flight depot, flight to Mason Bay, water taxi from Freshwater Landing to Golden Bay Wharf, shuttle to Oban, all meals, hot drinks, snacks, hut/camp fees, use of tent/sleeping mats if required and use of cutlery/utensils and cooking gear.
Minimum 4 persons
If you are only one or two persons, check to see if we have achieved minimum numbers or we can put you on our wait list.
Maximum 8 persons

A chance to glimpse a kiwi in the wild, explore the spectacular dune environment and wild west coast beach and learn about the natural history & early European history of the area…

Book Now (click here to make a booking). Prior bookings are essential to allow food, equipment and travel arrangements to be made.

Binocular Hire
We have a limited number of newly purchased10 x 42 binoculars for hire at $15.00 per binocular per day for our guided clients. Let us know if you require a pair when you make a booking.

Departure Dates

What we do (click here for Map)
Itinerary can vary or operate in reverse order based on tides / weather / client preferences.

Please note: we have had over 90% success of seeing kiwi on our guided trips.

Meet with your guide from Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience, for a briefing to discuss plans for your Kiwi, Dunes & Beach trip. We generally prefer to do this the evening prior to your tour and no later than early afternoon on the day of your trip.

Day 1 - We transfer you to the flight depot, followed by a flight to Mason Bay (approx. 10 - 15 minutes). Enjoy the stunning views of Paterson Inlet, the winding Freshwater River, wetland dunes and Mason Bay. Landing on the spectacular beach at Mason Bay, we take a 45 minutes to 2.5 hrs walk to Mason Bay Hut (landing spots are at the discretion of the pilot). We stay or camp at Mason Bay Hut, sharing facilities with other hikers.

Explore the area, depending on the time of day - taking in the historic farmhouse.

After a rest and a meal, we go kiwi spotting in the late evening / early night to catch a glimpse of this shy bird. Kiwi are wild birds, sightings are not guaranteed. It is a privilege to see a kiwi, an experience that many clients will never forget!

Day 2 - Mason Bay has a stunning 14 kms of beach, one of the most extensive natural sand dune systems in New Zealand, native coastal plants, some seabirds and a healthy population of kiwi. A great place to enjoy the stunning seascape, watch the surface crash on the beach and feel at one with nature!

After breakfast we walk up Big Sandhill 156 mtrs (511 ft) in the morning, to get views across Mason Bay and Freshwater Flats. We explore the extensive, classic dune environment, one of the least modified in New Zealand. This is a good area for botanising and photography with an opportunity to see other native birds.

After lunch we spend the afternoon on the beach, time and tides permitting, we explore the beach environment. The southern New Zealand dotterel, a wading bird is one of our rare birds and may occasionally be seen along the beach (subject to time of year) as well as banded dotterel, variable oystercatchers and gulls.

Depending on whether we have already seen a kiwi and subject to client preference we take time to go spotting kiwi again and watch the sun set over the horizon and the brilliant spectacle of the southern hemisphere stars and breathtaking Milky Way on a clear day.

Day 3 - We depart early morning for Freshwater Landing for our water taxi to Golden Bay Wharf.

We hike of 15.5 kms (10 miles) along Freshwater Flats to Freshwater Landing, over rough ground, through tussock fields, manuka scrub and board walked wetland, about 4 - 6 hours. We take in the birdlife along the way, including Stewart Island robin and fernbirds, flora and orchids in season. There is also evidence of kiwi to mull over and occasionally we actually see a kiwi in the daytime!

At Freshwater Landing, we take our water taxi ride down the winding primeval Freshwater River, richly stained by tannin, flanked by manuka (tea tree), ferns and mosses. The river exits into Paterson Inlet a vast area surrounded by a bushclad shoreline. Look out for penguins on your travels.

Arrive at Golden Bay Wharf about 45 minutes later, where we assist you with transfers to Oban, Halfmoon Bay.

Trip Times (advised at time of enquiry / booking)

Access to Freshwater River is only at high tides. Trips usually depart late afternoon Day 1 and return midday Day 3. Where there is demand for the trip on days where tides differs from usual departure times, the itinerary times is varied to fit in with tides and daylight hours. See departure dates.

Pack & Gear
For our trips to Mason Bay, we have gear and dry goods stored at Mason Bay. Your packs should not be too heavy for this tour. However, we do ask you to help carry some food to the Hut.

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New Zealand Robin, Stewart Island Robin
Ruggedy Range Clients on Big Sandhill, Mason Bay

Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience
"Birds & Forest Booking Office"
Stewart Island - Travel & Activities

14 Main Road
P O Box 188, Stewart Island, NZ

Ph: 64 3 219 1066
Fax: 64 3 219 1078
Mob: 64 274 784 433

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Office now centrally located opposite Department of Conservation Office and approx. 2 minutes walk from flight/ferry See Map.

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