Nestled under a hill and tucked alongside the bowling green on Stewart Island stands the Rakiura Museum housing innumerable Island treasures.

Original Museum in 1960 Interior of original museum

Originally built in 1960 our quaint museum attracts thousands of visitors annually.

Visitors would arrive from Bluff off the Wairua ferry or from Invercargill on the amphibian aircraft which serviced the Island.  For the princely sum of 50 cents visitors could spend an hour or more getting acquainted with Island history and its natural treasures.

In 1987 Rakiura Museum was extended, more than doubling its display and storage area. The new building incorporated the tiny original museum and was opened debt free thanks to the hard work of local volunteers and fundraising.

Set up and run by volunteers, for more than half a century the Rakiura Museum has seen tourist ventures come and go, people leave for distant shores, businesses close, school roles fluctuate, new activities start up and still the Island’s history is preserved for all to see.

Currently, volunteers give history talks to visiting schools but because of limited space the children are split into groups. 

School group

Our plans for the Rakiura Heritage Centre include an audio/visual area where we can better accommodate the desire to learn about Stewart Island's history.

Rakiura Museum displays cover early Maori history; whaling; sealing; timber milling; mining; fishing; transport; boat building and natural history.  The museum also houses an extensive photographic collection and a large archive of written material.  Today the museum’s collection has grown to more than 10,000 items.
Well now we’ve run out of room!

But ... we have an exciting new plan.

Do you have Rakiura Maori heritage?  Have you lived on Rakiura / Stewart Island? Have you holidayed or honeymooned here?  Did your Great-Grandad work here in the timber mills? Do you have friends and family living there?

We need your support. We’re building a beautiful new Heritage Centre and we want you to be part of our project.


We have raised

Your donation is contributed towards the new museum

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