North West Circuit

Rakiura National Park

  • 10 – 12 days
  • Loop track
  • Medium

The classic Stewart Island coastal journey known widely for its mud. Links with the Rakiura Track.

Mason Bay Sunset • By Yarmoss.
Key information
Allow
10 – 12 days
Distance
125.0km
Type
Loop track
Loop track
Grade
Medium
Access
Bookings
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Starts
Half Moon Bay, Stewart Island
Distance from you: ()
Other
Altitude
Sea level – 389m
Altitude change 389m
Maps
NZTopo50-CJ08
NZTopo50-CH08
NZTopo50-CH09
Link
www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/southland/stewart-island-rakiura/north-west-circuit-stewart-island-rakiura/http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/southland/stewart-island-rakiura/north-west-circuit-stewart-island-rakiura/
North Arm Hut • By Briar. Licence: C.

Access

The track starts and ends at the settlement of Oban in Halfmoon Bay on Stewart Island. Boat transport is available to parts of the track on Paterson Inlet and the eastern coast, while Stewart Island Flights services Mason Bay.

Summary

Rarely far from the coastline, the North West Circuit describes an arc about the northern granite landscape of Stewart Island before cutting back across the island from Mason Bay. The North West Circuit is notorious for deep mud and wetland travel.

The first and last days of the walk are shared with the Rakiura Track, and both Port William and North Arm Huts operate as Great Walks Huts, with bookings required.

Shorter options include the Rakiura Track or a crossing to Mason Bay. 

The Southern Circuit is an extension to the North West Circuit that visits Doughboy Bay, Mount Rakeahua, and the South West Arm of Paterson Inlet. It is 65km, including the side trip up Rakeahua, and 30 hours or 4-5 days walk. The Southern Circuit may be walked on its own by first crossing to Mason Bay.

Port William Hut • Great Walks Hut (DOC). Capacity: 30.

Halfmoon Bay to Port William: 12km, 4 hours

Maori Beach campsite • Great Walks Campsite (DOC). 4 spaces.

The road along the waterfront leads to Horseshoe Bay and the sculpture at Lee Bay that marks the edge of the national park. The Rakiura Track leads to Maori Beach, and leads off inland. It is another 45 minutes straight ahead to Port William Hut. The site is marked by tall eucalypts, a remnant from milling days.

Bungaree Hut • Standard Hut (DOC). Capacity: 20.

Port William to Bungaree Hut: 6km, 3-4 hours

Christmas Village Hut • Standard Hut (DOC). Capacity: 20.

The track leads over a headland to Sawyers Beach, then through forest to Big Bungaree Beach. The hut is located at the northern end.

Port William campsite • Great Walks Campsite (DOC). 4 spaces.

Bungaree Hut to Christmas Village Hut: 11.5km, 6 hours

The track leads to Murray Beach, the remains of a wharf, and an informal campsite. Here, it follows an old milling tramway into virgin forest, then sidles northward. The hut is located on the beach north of Christmas Village Bay.

Christmas Village Hut • By Briar. Licence: C.

Side trip: Mount Anglem, 11km, 6 hours return

Yankee River Hut • Standard Hut (DOC). Capacity: 20.

From Christmas Village Hut, this muddy track leads to the subalpine summit of Stewart Island's highest point, just 980m.

Christmas Village Hut to Yankee River Hut: 12km, 6 hours

Long Harry Hut [removed] • Standard Hut (DOC). Capacity: 6.

The track climbs to a 100m sidle, and bends westward with the coastline to another informal campsite at Lucky Beach and into dense forest. 

Yankee River Hut to Long Harry Hut: 8.5km, 4-5 hours

East Ruggedy Hut • Standard Hut (DOC). Capacity: 20.

The track climbs to 260m, crossing Black Rock Point to the sandhills of Smoky Beach, over a river and onward to the hut in Long Harry Bay.

Long Harry Hut to East Ruggedy Hut: 9.5km, 6 hours

The track climbs onto Cave Point Ridge and down to the coastline. Soon, the track turns south, heading back inland to a lookout over the beach. The Rugged Islands are offshore. The hut is located amongst sand dunes along a poled route.

East Ruggedy Hut to Big Hellfire Hut: 14km, 7 hours

The track drops onto West Ruggedy Beach and then passes inland around the coastal Red Head Peak before crossing over the Ruggedy Range. The hut is located on the way up to Hellfire Pass, on coastal ranges.

Mason Bay Hut • Standard Hut (DOC). Capacity: 16.

Big Hellfire Hut to Mason Bay Hut: 15km, 7 hours

The track descend to Little Hellfire Beach, over a bush saddle at Mason Head and down to the long arc of Mason Bay. This section is difficult to traverse at high tide. At Duck Creek, the turn-off inland to Mason Bay Hut is marked. This area is well known for kiwi spotting. Look for them at dawn and twilight.

Freshwater Landing Hut • Standard Hut (DOC). Capacity: 12.

Mason Bay Hut to Freshwater Landing: 15.5km, 3-4 hours

A long flat track leads inland past the abandoned historic Island Hill Homestead and through scrub to the Freshwater River. This section is prone to flooding. The Southern Circuit branches off here. 

North Arm Hut • Great Walks Hut (DOC). Capacity: 30.

Side trip: Rocky Mountain Track, 5km, 3 hours return

North Arm campsite • Great Walks Campsite (DOC). 4 spaces.

This track from the hut leads to rock outcrops in subalpine scrub, and panoramic views (549m). 

Mt Anglem from the track • By Yarmoss.

Freshwater Landing to North Arm Hut: 11km, 6-7 hours

Crossing the Thomson Ridge, the track leads into North Arm and sidles it to the hut, where two legs of the Rakiura track meet.

North Arm Hut to Halfmoon Bay: 12km, 5 hours

From the Hut, the Rakiura Track leads past Sawdust Bay to Prices Inlet and Kaipipi Bay, then on to Halfmoon Bay. 

 

Map 
ID 226

About this track

Added 1 June 2001 by MatthewMatthew. 8 revisions, most recently 29 July 2015 by HonoraHonora.
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