Nearest town: Oban, Stewart Island – the walk goes right from here, no need for a car!
Type of track: loop, with just a short section at the beginning/end repeating itself
Official distance: about 8km
Official time: 3-4 hours
Jenny’s time: about 4 hours
Toilets: at Moturau Moana and at Horseshoe Bay
Tips: Take a picnic to relax with at Dead Man Beach.
It was pretty hard to get up.
I mean, why would I even want to? Sitting on the pure white sand with my legs stretched out before me, facing the ultra-clear blue water of Dead Man Beach and basking in the warm sunshine, I was very content.. Why move?
But I had to, because as glorious as that was, I still had a walk to finish by the end of the day, and I had no idea how much further I needed to go.
I had just arrived on Stewart Island, dumped my bags at my hostel in the town of Oban, and immediately headed out for a walk. And where better to hike on such a bright sunny day than around the coastline of this gorgeous island?
The Horseshoe Point track takes you up Horseshoe Bay road right out of the town of Oban, and from here it’s pretty easy – just keep the ocean on your right, passing bay after bay of crystal clear blue water and pure white sand, with just about nobody at all on the beaches.
At the junction of Horseshoe Bay road and Braggs Bay road you’ll find Moturau Moana, a secluded grassy area with gardens of native New Zealand plants. It’s a beautiful spot, and would be a great place for an outdoor wedding! There’s a small deck with great views back towards Oban.
Continue from Moturau Moana along Bragg’s Bay road right to the end, where there’s a small homestead, and from here the trail continues along the coastline until it descends steeply to Dead Man Beach.
After you have a picnic and a nice little nap on the sand, you can follow the trail up the hill on the other side of the cove and around Horseshoe Point all the way to Horseshoe Bay, a wide arc of sand that goes on for ages.
From Horseshoe Bay it’s an easy walk along the road back to Oban, but there’s no sidewalk and not much shoulder so watch for cars! Good thing there’s not much traffic along here.
When you’re almost back in town, keep a lookout for Mapau Road on your right. Go up here and you’ll find the Halfmoon Bay cemetery, which is full of graves of early settlers and, as you’d expect in such a fishing village, people who drowned or were shipwrecked or lost at sea. These people have a fabulous view of the nearby Mill Creek estuary from their final resting place.
The Horseshoe Point track is not too long and fairly easy, and although there are some ups and downs they aren’t huge. It’s easily done in an afternoon and the chance to ooh and ahh at the incredibly clear blue water is well worth the effort!