About Us

Stewart Island Experience operates regular daily ferry services between Bluff and Stewart Island utilising two express catamarans - Southern Express (62 passengers) and Foveaux Express (97 passengers).

In addition, the company offers an exciting range of island based excursions and activities, including Paterson Inlet Cruises with visits to Ulva Island wildlife sanctuary, Village and Bays Tours and Guided Walks to explore the forest and coastline.  Rental cars, motor scooters and mountain bikes are also available for hire from our Oban Visitor Centre.

Stewart Island Experience is a 100% owned subsidiary of Real Journeys - a locally owned and respected New Zealand tourism company, which has been operating in southern South Island for over 50 years.  In addition to Stewart Island, Real Journeys offers a range of other excursions including Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Te Anau Glowworm Caves, Milford Track, TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship, Walter Peak High Country Farm and Discovery Expeditions.

From our helpful visitor centre staff and friendly crews to our expert hospitality teams and experienced nature guides - our staff come from a wide ranging background – from 5th generation Stewart Islanders to recent arrivals who fell in love with the area.

We are privileged to operate in a spectacular region of New Zealand – where Les Hutchins, the company’s founder, had a lifelong interest and involvement in conservation.  His contribution to the environment continues through the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation established in 1994. We contribute over $50,000 per year to conservation and are engaged in a number of initiatives to safeguard the environment. Projects include dolphin research, endangered birds protection, tracks and interpretation signage, outdoor education camps and wilding pine eradication.

As one of the major sponsors of the Fiordland Coastal Clean Up, we provide the vessel, the Milford Wanderer, which is used as a floating base for accommodation, meals and logistical support during the clean up.  The project involves removing rubbish that has accumulated around the coast.  This is not only a visual eyesore, but also a potential hazard to wildlife.

At Milford Sound, Real Journeys employees are actively involved in setting, baiting and checking stoat traps. This is part of a collective community project around Milford Sound.  The considerable effort put into predator trapping has been well rewarded with birds returning in increasing numbers and a more successful breeding season for the endangered Fiordland Crested penguins.

We also contribute up to $10,000 per annum towards the Whio Blue duck recovery programme, in particular survey work on rivers in and around Milford Sound.  The funding has assisted in survey work, and in a recovery programme which involves removing eggs from the first hatch, then rearing in captivity, and re-releasing back into the wild. A similar sponsorship programme for Pekapeka (native bats) was established in 2007.

On Stewart Island, we have a five year, $40,000 sponsorship package for the study of a rare gecko.  The money is used by the Department of Conservation for researching the harlequin gecko, which is found only on Stewart Island.

Real Journeys’ passengers are also encouraged to get directly involved in conservation. At various times throughout the year, we operate multi day Discovery Expeditions around the coast of Fiordland and Stewart Island.  As part of these cruises, Real Journeys facilitates an on-board auction, raising money for a relevant conservation project in one of these areas.