The World Around Us

Seasickness on Stewart Island

Country: New Zealand by Lisette


At the far south of New Zealand, literally where Highway One ends, you can catch a ferry to Stewart Island or Rakiura. The small island lies only 30 kilometres of rocky waters off the main island and has about 400 permanent people living there.

The enormous waves made me seasick and seriously affected my short day trip. The rain also affected my desire for hiking in the rainforest. Not that long ago, I walked in the rain to the top of Australia’s small Dunk Island’s hill, and when I remember the wetness and the rough ride on the water I quickly decided not to go to crazy today.

That was a good decision as quite a few of the great hikes on Stewart Island – that I was so looking forward to discovering for just a little as a daytrip does not give you the chance to do more than that – make you walk no knee-deep but thigh-deep into muck. Naahh… not for me!

There’s certainly more to do: boating, fishing, diving, and kayaking. When the weather is much better and I find myself in this part of the world again, I’d seriously go and check it out again! I would certainly like the opportunity to learn more about the birds that come here (more than 80% of the island is park). It is the only place where the kiwi lives in the wild.

As I was recovering from the ferry ride and trying to encourage myself to get mighty wet for some of the short walks, I sipped piping hot tea and nibbled on a biscuit while reading more about the island. By now, you know my interest in the first inhabitants for many parts of the world (such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and indeed I was looking for more information about the naming of the island and more.

The original name is Te Punga o Te Waka, meaning “the anchor stone of Maui’s Canoe”. This refers to the Māori legend in which people used their canoe (the South Island) caught and raised the great fish (the North Island).

Usually the island is referred to as Rakiura, as the sunrise, sunset and Aurora Australis are believed to be the blushing of the early Māori Chief Te Rakitamau. He asked for the hand in marriage of the eldest daughter of an important family and blushed terribly when he was turned down.

Stewart Island is named after the William Stewart who was the first European to realize this was an island and not the southern tip of the South Island as Captain Cook thought.