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“Even in the rain...”

Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience
Ranked #1 of 16 Tours in Stewart Island
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience tours operate exclusively in Stewart Island and Ulva Island. We are an independent, small local operator specialising in guided walks, overnight treks, bird watching (including pelagic birding) and kiwi spotting tours, boat cruises, sea kayaking and scenic road tours. Our tours are designed to capture the best the island has to offer and carefully matching this to the interests and abilities of the most discerning traveller. Whether you are a gentle explorer or adventurous and active, whether your interests are general or you are an avid birdwatcher, botanist, naturalist or photographer, we certainly have something to offer. Guides bring their in-depth knowledge, a sense of fun with a few local tales, to create a truly memorable experience. We care about the environment and strive to adopt and maintain sustainable practises. Since 2003, we have been donating some of our revenue into our own conservation fund per person per guided tour and water taxi charter. Our tours are all of generous length offering great value. We care about your experience so all our tours are personalised and we can adapt them along the way. Small groups range from 2 to 12 persons. We do cater for private tour groups of more than 12 persons. Customised / private tours are also available. We recommend prior bookings. We operate our own booking office in Stewart Island and we strongly advise that you check directly with us as there are no independent visitors centres in Stewart Island.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
“Even in the rain...”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 30, 2013

It has been our practice to seek out small independent and personal tours when we travel and our trip to Stewart Island on 1/12/13 was no exception. Unfortunately it started to rain when we left our cruise ship and continued as we got to the island. We were greeted by Charlotte who was cheerful and personal and made the best of the inclement day. She was knowledgeable and shared her brief experiences of the island with us. The flora and fauna of the island must be a special treat when the weather is nice. We highly recommend the Ruggedy Range experience.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank Ron and Barb S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
StewartIslandLocal, Owner at Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience, responded to this review, February 8, 2013
Thank you Ron and Barb for seeking out our business. All the cruise ships have shore excursions fully contracted out with a limited number of tour operators and currently, this does not involve all the tourism businesses in Stewart Island, so we were glad of some work. We hope that you can visit another day and enjoy the sunshine in Stewart Island.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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187 reviews from our community

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English first
London
Level Contributor
32 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Kiwi Journey”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 21, 2013

Until you have seen a kiwi, close up, you may not realise what is so special about this particular bird - and if you would like to see one, Furhana, the owner/operator of Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience has to be the best guide. A small group of six people ventured by boat from Oban to Freshwater, then on foot via the North West Circuit Track via an old Homestead and Woolshed to Masons' Bay Hut.

All along the way, a one hour boat trip followed by a five hour hike (at a suitably gentle pace to allow us to see the wildlife), Furhana was able to give insights into the landscape, the flora and the fauna, pointing out things that someone without her in-depth knowledge of NZ wildlife in general and Stewart Island in particular could easily have missed - this includes kiwi tracks and pooh, as they mark their territory rather like a dog or cat.

After a surprisingly good meal (chili con carne) which we all helped to prepare, we went out to try to find a kiwi. They had been hiding during the day, though Furhana often manages to find one on the walk in to Mason's bay and was clearly getting concerned in case we were disappointed. She took us to some likely spots and one appeared, only to disappear again before we could get a proper look. On the way back to the hut, by this time after dark, we saw another kiwi, this time in the shrubbery with the aid of a red-filtered light, and watched it for a while before turning in for bed.

An early start allowed us to leave at 6am and Furhana took us back to the place we saw the first fleeting glimpse of a kiwi and there it was (or one of its friends!), right in front of us. Approaching very slowly and gently, Furhana was able to guide us to within the closest distance acceptable to the kiwi, which was very close indeed, and ensured each of us was able to take turns at the front of the party. This very tolerant kiwi (obviously more interested in some juicy worms brought up by overnight rain) allowed us to follow him for about 45 minutes before deciding breakfast was over and it was time to run off.

After this, we set of at a faster pace than on the way out, retracing our steps to meet the boat at Freshwater, which took us back to Oban in time for a hearty lunch at the pub.

As well as the kiwi, Furhana pointed out a number of other birds and plants, including the mischevious Stewart Island Robin and the NZ pepper bush (which I used to spice up my plate of chili which had been made deliberately mild for one of our party who did not like hot food). We also saw Bellbirds, Tomtits, Fernbirds and others, with a ready supply of information about their habits and lifestyles.

We had come as a bit of a "whistlestop" visit and thus did not have all the walking equipment you would ideally need for a trip such as this, but Furhana was able to provide extra equipment, some to buy, some to hire, so we had everything we needed. As well as the tours mentioned on their website, Ruggedy Range can put together bespoke packages including being flown in and out of Mason's Bay for those unwilling or unable to walk accross the island.

We would certainly visit again and would recommend Ruggedy Range to others. Thank you Furhana!

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Philip M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
StewartIslandLocal, Owner at Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience, responded to this review, January 26, 2013
A rewarding trip with great clients. Thank you for your help in preparing the meal - which we all ate with a flourish. A pleasure to be at Mason Bay. Each special sighting of kiwi well remembered - this kiwi seen in the early morning was no exception and treated us to kiwi feeding rituals, sniffing of the air and a quirky way of running off then settling again. Lucky to be able to share these wilderness experiences with clients from different corners of the world.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Christchurch, New Zealand
1 review
“Guided half day tour of Ulva Island”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 10, 2013

Furhana is an 'artist' who paints the forest alive with stories, words and knowledge of the flora and fauna of this unique and special island. You won't find Ruggedy Range advertised at i-sites which is in some ways a pity as many folks will miss out on the opportunity to experience this excellent organization.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
Thank Anne A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
StewartIslandLocal, Owner at Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience, responded to this review, January 26, 2013
Thank you for your response and your thoughts on the guided trip, which I really appreciate. Sadly there is a long and involved story of why I no longer work with I-Sites. Having done so for 8 years, my business was just not being promoted enough to visitors as seen by the poor bookings we received. I operate in a small community environment which is no different from any in the rest of the world. There is always a pecking order and strong connections which cannot and won't be broken irrespective of my background / knowledge and experience and despite what my customers think of my tours. I don't wish to struggle against a brick wall - there is so much to do and life to be enjoyed without the frustrations of trying to convince people who just can't and won't see the big picture. The customers that believe in Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience and who appreciate what I am doing is rewarding in itself.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barcelona
1 review
“Thanks, Ruggedy, for making this trip so special!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 10, 2013

Although there are many big tour operators in these islands (their commercial "pressure" just begin in the boat heading to Stewart Island), we usually choose small local guides in our trips.
We think they know better the place and ecologically respect it much more than external tour operators.

In this case, even Lonely Planet recommended the local Ruggedy team, so we waited until arriving to Stewart Island and there we chose it, and certainly the election was excellent.

The guide, Furhana, showed Ulva Island in a small group (just six people) and explained with every sort of detail the flora and fauna. She even demonstrated a great knowledge of bird sings. The three hours walk seemed so short!

Thanks, Furhana, for your kindness and professionality, and hope to be back, there are so many places to visit in your islands!

Alex & Xavi (Barcelona, Spain)

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
Thank Alex R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
StewartIslandLocal, Owner at Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience, responded to this review, January 26, 2013
Alex and Xavi - it was great to show you our Spanish friends this special part of the world. I hope that you will be back to see more of the treasures these islands of New Zealand offer.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Utrecht, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
50 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Wonderful wildlife experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 3, 2013

We booked a combination of the Kiwi Trip and the full-day Ulva Island Trip, and this was the best idea we ever had! The Kiwi Trip was a great experience - the hike up to the Mason Bay Hut was beautiful, we saw a great many NZ birds and we had a delightful dinner in the hut. The Ulva Island trip also offered many opportunities to spot and photograph birds and to experience the wonderful world of the NZ rain forest. Furhana is a brilliant guide - she knows just everything there is to know about birds and nature and Stewart Island and is very willing to share all this. She learned us many things about the wildlife, the trees, the ferns and the flowers that we have greatly benefited from for the remainder of our travels in New Zealand; indeed, our experience with Kiwi spotting even helped us to spot a kiwi on the day after the Kiwi Trip on our own!

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
Thank Mark_Janneke
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
StewartIslandLocal, Owner at Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience, responded to this review, January 26, 2013
I am thrilled to learn that you got to see another kiwi. We met about 5 years ago at the Dutch Bird Fair where I was exhibiting my tours and I could not believe that after several years you remembered this small business and booked my tours. Thank you for this and for your wonderfully good nature, kindness and understanding during a busy time for me. I hope you will be back - I know you were very sad to leave.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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