Visitor levy Q&A

Below are some questions and answers about the Stewart Island/Rakiura visitor levy.

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What is the Stewart Island/Rakiura visitor levy?

The Stewart Island/Rakiura visitor levy is a sum of money collected from visitors to the island. It has been set at $5 per person aged over 18 since it was established in 2013, with some exemptions.

With a small population and large number of visitors, the levy is intended as a way to support costs for services, activities or facilities that benefit visitors, or to mitigate environmental effects of visitors.

Who pays the levy?

The levy is payable by any visitor to Stewart Island/Rakiura who is aged over 18.

There are some exemptions, including those aged under 18-years-old, Stewart Island/Rakiura residents and ratepayers and those who remain on the island for 21 consecutive days or more.

What type of activities or projects does the revenue from the levy fund? 

Funds from the levy must be used to better provide services, facilities and/or amenities for island visitors, or to mitigate environmental effects of visitors.

Groups and organisations are able to apply to the Stewart Island/Rakiura visitor levy subcommittee, for funding to go towards infrastructure, operational costs and community projects.

Examples of past allocations include:

  • museum rebuild
  • free wifi zone
  • street maps
  • historical walk pamphlet
  • walking track upgrades
  • footpath upgrades
  • wharf replacements/jetty rebuilds
  • signage
  • habitat restoration projects
What determines whether something is eligible for funding or not?

The Southland District Council (Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy) Empowering Act 2012 outlines the criteria for activities that could be considered eligible for funding.

Levies must be used for:

  • funding wholly, or in part, activities used by visitors
  • funding wholly, or in part, activities on the island for the benefit of visitors
  • mitigating the adverse effects of visitors or excluded visitors on the environment of the island.

Most activities on the island are used by visitors as well as residents. With about 400 residents and 40,000 visitors, many activities have benefit for visitors but are also essential for residents. 

Applications are assessed by the Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy Allocation Subcommittee, using the criteria set out above.

How is the subcommittee made up?

The subcommittee consists of the following members appointed by Council:

  • the chair of Council's Community and Strategy Committee
  • the chair of Council's Finance and Assurance Committee
  • the councillor for Stewart Island/Rakiura
  • a representative from the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board
  • a representative recommended by each of the Approved Operators (three in total)(Approved operators collect the levy on behalf of Council and are Real Journeys Limited, Stewart Island Flights Limited and ISS McKay Limited on behalf of cruise ships)
  • a member to represent iwi
  • a member from Stewart Island/Rakiura community 
What is the process and timeframe around any changes to the levy?

August-September 2021 - understanding community feedback

Council is engageding with approved operators (operators that collect the levy from visitors), key stakeholders and the wider community.

October 2021-January 2022

Reports outlining the feedback received and seeking input on proposed changes went to Once views have been ascertained, a report will go  the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board,  and Council’s Community and Strategy committee.

February 2022

Council adopted the proposal for consultation.

Any increase to the visitor levy (if agreed on) would not be in place until October 2023.

1 March -1 April 2022

Publc consultation period

27 April 2022

Oral submissions heard by Council for anyone who has made a written submission and who has said they would like to speak to Council.  Covid national protection framework levels may impact the hearing date and the ability to hold this meeting in person.  

May and June 2022

Council to deliberate and adopt any proposed changes

July 2022

If adopted by Council, changes to the draft policy and bylaw, other than the amount of the levy, come into effect.

October 2023

Any changes to the levy amount adopted by Council in June 2022 come into effect.


If you have a question on this, please click the contribute button or the lightbulb. We'll get back to you as soon as we can.

Or, email Southland District Council senior policy analyst Carrie Williams; email

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