Posted by Rebecca Hastie on Nov 29, 2017
Rotary Youth Exchange students that are hosted by families in Southern New Zealand are extra fortunate to be able to experience life in some of the most beautiful areas of the country and Rotary District 9980 club members organise trips for them to really enjoy our great outdoors. In November, two Rotary Club of Balclutha members joined for five days in Stewart Island where we tramped one of NZ's Great Walks - the Rakiura Track.
The students living in NZ for the 2017-2018 year all from different countries: Anna (France), Sebastian (Chile), Astris (Sweden), Sena (Japan), Kurt (Taiwan), Seyan (Germany), Lara (Switzerland), Simon (Denmark), Matthias (Austria)
Ten Rotary volunteers and nine exchange students travelled from all over southern NZ and met at the ferry terminal at Bluff. The end of November brought perfect sunshine for our five days on Stewart Island and calm blue water. However the water on Foveaux Strait is only an average of 30m deep so even on a calm day any wind movement can send the ferry splashing through swells making for a bumpy ride. There were some green faces on the way over so the glassy water of Halfmoon Bay was a welcome sight to land at Oban.
Our first two days staying in Oban were spent strolling the many walking tracks around the township through native bush and along stunning coastline. We also watched "A Local's Tail" at the Bunkhouse Theatre, a short film on the history and lifestyle of the island, narrated by a gorgeous local resident, Lola the dog!
 In the evening near the ferry terminal we watched little blue penguins surface after their day out at sea fishing, they didn't seem to mind dozens of people watching as they climbed up the rocks into the bush line across from the jetty!
 View over Golden Bay from Observation Rock at Oban.
 Halfmoon Bay from the walk down from Observation Rock.
Afternoon swimming at Bathing Beach.
 Halfmoon Bay.
 Golden Bay at the end of the Fuchsia Walk & Raroa Walk.
 Halfmoon Bay across clear water and colourful kelp from Ackers Point.
 We heard plenty of stories of sightings of Kiwi around the township but we weren't lucky enough to come cross any until on the Rakiura Track!
Ulva Island & Ferry
We all spent an afternoon on Ulva Island where we saw plenty of bird life but still no Kiwi. There are over 10,000 Kiwi on Stewart Island and 30-40 on Ulva Island however the walking tracks only cover a small part of the island.
 The Ulva Island Ferry was built in 1951 and now runs people to Ulva Island,
 a reserve protected since 1899 where bird life thrives with no predators!
 Welcomed to Ulva Island by one of the many friendly weka!
 A rare South Island Saddleback on the track very close to Post Office Bay.
 Plenty of weka scratching around fooling people searching for Kiwi! We also saw weka chicks like little black pom-poms of fluffy feathers scratching around with their parents. We also saw tiny Stewart Island robins, fantails flitting, kereru (native wood pigeon) cooing, tui tussling midair, kaka squawking and swooping across the track and a very territorial oystercatcher nesting on the beach!
We chartered the Ulva Island Ferry for the evening so from the island we floated past little blue penguins surfacing in the water and over to the old Whalers Base where a short walk through the bush from the jetty still remains pieces of whalers ships and their cottages. On the beach is a picnic shelter where we set up to cook blue cod for dinner!
 Half the group spent a morning out on a fishing boat where they caught over 60 blue cod some of which made for a pretty fancy bush dinner!
 A friend at the picnic shelter kindly cracked open a kina for us to taste one of the many they had collected from the water around the jetty.
 The ferry skipper took us for a cruise around the coves of Paterson Inlet where the roots of native trees cling to rocks all the way to the seawater.
Rakiura Track
On the morning we left to tramp the 32km Rakiura Track blocking the sunshine was a sea mist that kept us cool as we walked from Oban around Horseshoe Bay to Lee Bay to the beginning of the track. We were lucky to have a friend with a ute to take our bags for this hottest part of the walk!
 Fog floating past Horseshoe Bay.
A paradise duck and her ducklings were splashing about as we arrived at Fort William hut on day 1.
On the morning of day 2 not far from Fort William hut, Rebecca and Chantal at the back of the group were lucky to spot a Kiwi right at the edge of the track. It scratched around right at Rebecca's boot, she has posted a video of it to the Rotary Club of Balclutha Facebook page.
 Lots of historical milling spots along the Rakiura Track.
 Searching for Kiwi along the back country track from North Arm Hut. No luck until after dusk when a group carried on further up the track and heard lots of Kiwi call right on nightfall and one came crashing through the bush to the track to check out the red light coming from their torches! It sniffed around right at Rebecca and Phil's feet.
Early lunch stop on day 3!
 At the backpackers looking for the rest of the group's catch of blue cod to take home Noel opened the freezer drawer to this monster of a crayfish!
 Team leader completely tuckered out on the ferry home, an action-packed trip well done thank you, Merv!