Stewart Island is the third largest island of New Zealand after the South Island and the North Island. It lies 30 km to the south of the South Island, separated from it by Foveaux Strait.
Its original Maori name of Te Punga o Te Waka a Maui positions Stewart Island firmly at the heart of Maori mythology. Translated as "The Anchor Stone of Maui's Canoe", this refers to the part played by this island in the legend of Maui and his crew who, from their canoe (the South Island), caught and raised the great fish, the North Island. However, the more commonly used name is Rakiura. Translated as "The great and deep blushing of Te Rakitamau", an early Maori chief, it is seen today as the glowing sunrises, sunsets and the aurora australis or Southern Lights.
Most of the island is covered in native forest and virtually the entire population of about 400 is concentrated in the township of Oban (also known as Halfmoon Bay) on the east coast. Commercial fishing and tourism are the two main occupations for residents. The main attractions for visitors are hiking (called tramping in New Zealand), birdwatching, fishing and deer hunting.