“This section of the Rakiura Track cuts inland across the heart of Stewart Island's dense rainforest.”
— Kristen McGlynn
Come ready for some shoe-sucking mud! If you embrace it, the mud really just adds to the fun.
From North Arm Hut, this section of the Rakiura Track
heads east and north, inland from Paterson Inlet, and taking runners from the scenic coastline to the dense and intensely verdant "rainforest" that makes up the interior of Stewart Island.
This amazing podocarp forest is actually in the process of regenerating from heavy logging activity although you might not be able to tell as the woods are already incredibly green, lush, and dense. On the eastern side of the track, you'll come across remnant of the logging operations including two decaying log haulers and old tramlines that were used to haul the massive felled trees out to the coastline.
The track itself is narrower and quieter along this section than along the coast. While you'll enjoy the morning birdsong if you run early enough, by the mid-morning to afternoon, the track becomes very quiet, and you'll enjoy a sense of solitude. You also will likely be astonished by the many, many shades of green as you head further into the lush inland forest. The podocarp forest is covered with a stunning variety of moss and ferns in addition to the towering native trees.
On this section of track, you'll also likely encounter another Steward Island feature—mud, and lots of it. Gaiters are recommended, and in the rainy season, come prepared for mud that can be knee deep in places. The DOC has done significant work to lay plastic netting and rocks to help mitigate the muddy sections, but there will come a point where you can't really avoid it, so be ready to get a bit muddy before you are done.
As you near Wooding Bay and Port William, the track will split. Continue to the left to climb up to Port William Hut. This last climb is by far the most challenging uphill you'll face in the entirety of the Great Walk, but this is only difficult in comparison to the easy-going nature of the rest of the track.
Flora & Fauna
Many native birds including tuī, fantails, wood pigeons, parakeets, possibly little blue penguins, or if you are really lucky, the elusive kiwi. Rimu, kamahi, ferns, and rata.