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Kiwi Journey

Page update: 2 October 2016

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About Mason Bay

About Kiwi

Trip Details - Kiwi Journey

Trip Details - Kiwi, Dunes & Beach

Enviro Gold Award

Stewart island Kiwi seen in daylight. Stewart Island Robin
"Thank you so much for the Ruggedy Range experience! From jumping in the puddles and the mud to climbing dunes & seeing kiwi - we loved every minute.... We will recommend this trip to anyone who's interested in coming to Stewart Island (+ probably everyone we meet)"
Rob Sykes & Becky Denham- UK

About Mason Bay

Mason Bay is situated on the west coast of Stewart Island. It has approx. 14 kms (9 miles) 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 Options & 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.

Tramping Across the Chocolate Swamp, Stewart Island
"We enjoyed not only seeing a kiwi but everything else we did here."
Ken Matsumoto - Japan

Rainbow at Mason Bay Dunes

"Wicked good trip. Saw more kiwis than I expected and "got" the wily fernbird as well. I would do it again in a heart beat."
Dean Pakulski - USA

TRIP DETAILS: Kiwi Journey

Duration 1 1/2 Days, 1 Night
Distance Day 1: 15.5 kms (10 miles) to Mason Bay and 3 5 kms (2 3 miles) for kiwi spotting. Day 2: 15.5 kms (10 miles) to Freshwater Landing.
Time Access to Freshwater River is only at high tides. Trips usually depart early afternoon Day 1and return afternoon Day 2.
Start/End Oban, Halfmoon Bay
Fitness Good - this is an active trip.
Terrain Flat, rough ground, muddy in places, and boardwalk. Occasional surface flooding. Beach and dunes at Mason Bay.
Adult Boat in / out: NZ $695.00 p.p.
Child Boat in / out: NZ $595.00 p.p.
Regular Tour
Boat in / out Includes
Shuttle transfers to and from Golden Bay Wharf, Water taxi, all meals, hot drinks, snacks, hut/camp fees, use of tent/sleeping mats if required, use of cutlery/utensils and cooking gear.
Adult Fly in / boat out: NZ $825.00 p.p.
Child Fly in / boat out: NZ $725.00 p.p.
Fly in / Boat out Includes Shuttle transfer to flight depot, flight to Mason Bay, water taxi to Golden Bay Wharf, shuttle to Oban, all meals, hot drinks, snacks, hut/camp fees, use of tent/sleeping mats if required, 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

Journey in the steps of kiwi, New Zealand's national icon and most ancient bird. Travel across the heart of Stewart Island, along a primeval river, through wetland, scrub and across dunes to a wild west coast beach. Learn about kiwi, enjoy the contrasting scenery, other native birds and plants.

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 $20.00 per binocular per day for our guided clients. Let us know if you require a pair when you make a booking.

Departure Dates

PLEASE NOTE : We are offering 2 options:
Kiwi Journey - boat in / out (regular trip)
Kiwi Journey - fly in / boat out* / **

* Suitable for anyone who does not want to do two long hikes or where we cannot operate our regular trip due to high tides. If you are interested in return flights to Mason Bay - please contact us for prices.
** Tour times are shorter for the fly in / boat out option, usually late afternoon, evening, to late morning. If you want to have an extra day at Mason Bay see: Kiwi, Dunes & Beach.

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

Please note: over 90% success of kiwi on regular tours.
Meet with your guide from Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience, for a briefing to discuss plans for your Kiwi Journey. We generally prefer to do this the afternoon or evening prior to your tour except for fly in / boat out option.

Day 1 - Meet with your guide and take a water taxi westward to the head of Paterson Inlet, then northwest along Freshwater River into the interior of Stewart Island. Richly stained by tannin, this winding primeval river is flanked by manuka (tea tree), ferns and mosses. Arrive at Freshwater Landing about 40 minutes later.

Take time to enjoy birdlife including, the friendly Stewart Island robin and fernbirds, flora and orchids in season on your 4 - 6 hours trek (15.5 kms or 10 miles) along Freshwater Flats to Mason Bay, through manuka scrub and board walked wetland. There is also evidence of kiwi to mull over and sometimes a surprise daytime sighting! Camp near to or stay at Mason Bay Hut, nestled amongst forest-covered dunes a short 15 minutes walk from spectacular Mason Bay Beach. Watch the surf crashing on the beach. In the evening, the search for kiwi begins, listen to their shrill calls. Kiwi are wild birds and sightings are not guaranteed. Seeing a kiwi is a privilege and experience never to forget!

Take in the breathtaking Milky Way and southern stars on clear days.

Day 2 - We also try our luck at spotting kiwi today and time permitting, take a look at the surrounding rolling dunes, great for photography. Depart for Freshwater Landing, enjoy more sightings of native birdlife. Relax in your water taxi as you travel back down Freshwater River and across Paterson Inlet to Golden Bay Wharf. Transfers provided to Oban, Halfmoon Bay.

Trip Times for our Regular Tours (advised at time of enquiry / booking)
Access to Freshwater River is only at high tides. Our regular trip usually depart early afternoon Day 1 and return afternoon Day 2. 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 Transfers / Porter Service
We have gear and dry goods stored at Mason Bay. Your packs should not be heavy for this tour. If you are a Group that does not want to carry full backpacks, we may be able to arrange for food and gear drop off at the hut at extra cost. This can only be done for private group bookings or where all party members wish to take up the service. If you are interested please let us know.

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Greenhood Orchids

"Well organised and operated. Incredibly informative & rewarding."
Forston Tyler - Canada

"Thanks for the fantastic trip. Great meetings with kiwis. Incredible interesting information about Stewart Island, birds, plants, history etc.
Wonderful experience to be in real nature. We hope to be back!"

De Jongs- Holland

Dining at Mason Bay Hut, Stewart Island


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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For all Enquiries, Bookings, please phone or contact:
Office now centrally located opposite Department of Conservation Office and approx. 2 minutes walk from flight/ferry See Map.

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