Stewart Island Backpackers/Shearwater Inn



Hostelz.com's Review

Stewart Island Backpackers/Shearwater Inn is quite large and has a big turnover of guests. It is definitely ok for one night, but for longer stays you might want to consider someplace else.

The Location

Stewart Island Backpackers is situated in the township of Oban, the only town on Stewart Island. It is a ten-minute walk to the ferry terminal where the ferries leave to Invercargill. If you fly to Stewart Island, the drop-off is a two-minute walk from the hostel. In a couple of minutes you can also reach the 4 Square Supermarket, a restaurant, and a crepe shop. A couple of short and long hikes start in front of the hostel.

Rooms and Bathrooms

The rooms are situated in two wings from the main building. They are rather small, but usually you only bring an overnight bag to Stewart Island so this should not be a problem. All rooms open up to a wooden porch with a couple of chairs outside. Some of the windows in the rooms cannot be closed (they seem to be stuck), so it might get quite cold at night. Also, when you check in, they will fill up all the already-occupied rooms first before they open up a new one, so even if the hostel is rather empty you will have to share your room. The bathrooms are next to the common room and there is a female and a male bathroom with three showers each and next to it you will find some toilets. They are cleaned daily, but as they are outside, the floor can get dirty or wet and it is really cold at night.

Common Spaces

The hostel has a big, communal kitchen with ample fridge space. During our stay, some fridges were turned off, maybe because the hostel was not fully booked. Stray uses this hostel for its overnight stop on Stewart Island and this can lead to the kitchen area getting quite crowded, loud, and messy. Next to the kitchen is the common room with a large TV and a lot of couches and chairs. Some games and puzzles are available there and you also have a piano and a ping-pong table. Outside there is a BBQ for guest use and some picnic tables; due to the amount of sand flies, however, most travelers sit inside. On check-in, you might get some free internet, otherwise Wi-Fi internet is available for purchase.


If you are planning a short stay, this hostel is fine; however, if you want to stay longer, you might want to try another, smaller backpackers on the island. As some of the windows can't seem to be closed, you might get sand flies into your room -- make sure you bring insect repellent.
by Teddylein
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
January 2013


18 Ayr Street, Oban, Stewart Island / Rakiura, New Zealand
info@stewart-island.co.nz, backpackers@stewart-island.co.nz
(064) (3) 219 1114
(064) (3) 219 1516
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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews

Lovely, warm place
lovely, clean place; friendly staff; large kitchen and lounge. Rooms warm and comfortable, did not need sleeping bag as the supply the bedding.
(new zealand )
We heard good reviews of this place before we even got there.
After tramping for several days in the bush, we found plenty of hot water for showers, and laundry facilities good. The area for sitting in was spacious and the kitchen adequate. It was nice to be able to go outdoors to eat at covered picnic tables. Shared toilet facilities did not worry us. The 2 bedrooms our group had were a bit crowded but the clean sheets were a luxury after being out in the bush. We enjoyed our 4 days that we stayed.
(New Zealand)
School Camp
i went to stewart island on a school camp and i thoroughly enjoyed staying at stewart island backpackers, i have a lot of fantastic memories surrounding this place and i will sure not forget the crammy rooms. the kitchen was fairly grubby but had good gas heaters. the tv room was a fantastic hang out place for me and my friends. So if you are visiting stewart island any time soon i would pick to use this backkpackers.
If you have so many rooms, why put you all the people in one room?
The hostel looks like it hasn't been changed since the seventies. There were only four people in the hostel, but three of them including me had to sleep all in the same small room. That was way too crowded. And if your roommates aren't oké, sleeping can be a hard time. Stewart Island is very interesting nevertheless. It gives you a bit of the End of the world feeling and it is at the end of the world!
Jeroen Eefting
Very comfortable for the school group that I took.
We enjoyed our stay there. It was not over crowded and the students felt safe and comfortable. Central and close to all amenities.
Sue Lynch
  However, the best budget place to stay on the island. The double room was fine (except you have to use your sleeping bags which is annoying). The kitchen sucks basically. There is nowhere to store dry food and the layout of the lounge/dining area next to it means there is virtually on space to cook either.
Stewart Island Backpackers is the largest backpacker on the fairly deserted island, which only has one township – Oban, on Halfmoon Bay. While it can accommodate the most people, and therefore might be the only option during peak season, it may not be the best depending on what you're looking for. There are several other, smaller backpackers on the island, usually inside someone's home, which provide more comfortable accommodation and a more authentic Stewart Island experience. There is nothing terribly wrong with Stewart Island Backpackers – the facilities are fairly clean and are adequate for most backpackers needs. But the rooms are incredibly small, and only hold two or three beds each, so you may find yourself crammed in a very tiny space with a stranger or two, and not enough room for all your stuff. The kitchen and tv room are large and can accommodate the high traffic that Stewart Island experiences during the tourist season. There is also a ping pong table, which is the only thing that makes the backpackers stand out from all the rest. It is centrally located, close to the harbor at Halfmoon Bay, the one grocery store, visitor center, and few restaurants on the island. But the township is so small that this is hardly a complement – everything is located very close to each other. If Stewart Island Backpackers is your choice for accommodation when traveling to the island, which is definitely worth the hour ferry ride, then it will be fine for your needs. But if you have the insight to call ahead and book one of the smaller, more comfortable, less expensive, more accommodating backpackers on the island, you may be happy you did.
Thane Maxwell

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