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Most visitors are drawn to Stewart Island's unspoiled beauty and unique lifestyle. Nowhere else in New Zealand will you find such ready access to fern-filled native forests and astonishing bird life.

For those coming to simply unwind, there are lots of quirky activities that must be experienced. The Rakiura Museum, Ayr Street, Half Moon Bay (tel. 03/219-1049; fax 03/219-1126), will give you a glimpse at the island's past, featuring photographs and exhibits tracing the island's history through sailing, whaling, tin mining, sawmilling, and fishing. It also has shell and Maori artifact displays. It's open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 1:30pm, Sunday from noon to 2pm, with extended hours during the summer holidays. Admission is NZ$5. The Fernery, 29 Golden Bay Rd. (tel./fax 03/219-1453), is a recommended crafts shop and Glowing Sky Studio Shop, Town Centre (tel. 03/219-1528; www.glowingsky.co.nz), stocks some lovely merino wool garments. The Rakiura Gallery, 10 Main Rd. (tel. 03/219-1429), is your best bet for work by local artists.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.