Damian Christie flies from Invercargill to Rakiura, aboard Stewart Island Flights.

The plane:

A Britten Norman Islander — a little 10-seater plane that feels like an adventure.

Class: One size fits all!

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Price: $220 return.

Flight time: It's a quick 20-minute hop across Foveaux Strait, but there's a real sense of excitement as the wild bush-covered silhouette of Stewart Island/Rakiura starts to get bigger and bigger in the front window — it's huge!

My seat: I was lucky enough to get the co-pilots' seat at the front — although it's a little nerve-racking ensuring your hands and feet are far away from the controls.

Fellow passengers: A bit hard to tell who my fellow passengers were without craning my neck, but I picked up there were a couple of Stewart Island locals among the other tourists.

Photo / Damian Christie
Photo / Damian Christie

How full:

The plane was chocka.

Entertainment: Aside from a bit of banter between the pilot and the locals, all the entertainment was provided by the view.

The service: We got there.

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Food and drink: I always keep a few Koru lounge mints stashed in my pockets for trips like this.

The toilets: None.

Luggage: The stated allowance is 15kg, but we arrived with a 23kg bag full of camera gear and no-one said anything.

The airport experience: We had a couple of hours to fill between our flight landing at Invercargill and our flight to Stewart Island. Invercargill Airport is not somewhere you'd willingly want to fill a couple of hours.


The bottom line: It's quicker than the ferry, and for just over $100 each way, it's a great vantage point to see exactly how big Stewart Island/Rakiura really is.