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Ulva Island Birds & Forest - Half Day Guided Trip

Page updated: 31st March 2018

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About Ulva Island

Trip Detals - Half Day

Trip Details - Full Day

Enviro Gold Award

Ulva Island Guided Trip
"Utterly fascinating & compelling coverage of the bird life & the flora & fauna of Ulva Island. The depth and extent of the knowledge imparted was particularly impressive. We can never thank you enough for such a wonderful experience." Mary & Ken Gardiner - UK

About Ulva Island

Ulva Island is situated within Paterson Inlet, an easy 8 minutes water taxi ride from Golden Bay, Stewart Island. It has an area of approximately 269 ha, 3.5 km long and 1.5 km wide. Once the site of Stewart Island's first Post Office established in 1872, it is now managed by the Department of Conservation as part of Rakiura National Park.

A picturesque, forested island with easy walks, beautiful beaches and interesting coves. During the 1990's, rats were removed from the Island to create a safe haven for native birds and plants, and now the Island's ecology is thriving.

A real nature sanctuary - a visit to Ulva Island is a must for anyone interested in New Zealand birds and flora.


Ulva Island is one of the few places in New Zealand where you can view near-pristine native podocarp forest including the majestic rimu, miro and totara. There are also flowering southern rata and kamahi, tree ferns, delicate ground ferns and mosses. A number of orchid species are a delight to see, especially during the summer months.

Fauna (see News / Blogs regarding rat reinvasion on Ulva Island)

After rats were eradicated, five bird species have been released on Ulva Island, the rare South Island saddleback (Philesturnus carunculatus curunculatus), the threatened Stewart Island robin (Petroica australis rakiura), the rare yellowhead (Mohoua ochrocephala) and the rifleman (Acanthisitta chloris chloris). The Stewart Island fernbird (Bowdleria punctata stewartiana) was also released, but is thought not to have survived on Ulva Island.

There are few places in New Zealand like Ulva Island where a variety of native birds can be viewed at such close range. We often hear kaka, our native parrot calling their liquid honey notes, interspersed with the bellbird's exquisite notes and the wonderfully varied calls of the tui, with lime green parakeets flying amongst the tree tops. South Island saddleback, yellowhead, robin, rifleman, red and yellow-crowned parakeets, wood pigeon, weka (wood hen), tui, fantail, tomtit, grey warbler, brown creeper and New Zealand wood pigeon, are amongst several varieties of birds that are often sighted.

Please help to keep Ulva Island rat free by checking you packs before you leave for the Island!

"Absolutely brilliant - probably the best guided trip we have had anywhere." Philip & Brigid Jacob - Ireland

Small  Group on Ulva Island
Nature Guide and Easter Orchid
TRIP DETAILS: Ulva Island - Birds & Forest (Half Day)

4 hours on Ulva Island
Summer total tour time (inc. boat): 4.5 hrs
Off Season total tour time (inc. boat): 4.25 hrs

Distance Approx. 3 5 kms (1.8 3 miles)

Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar
8.10 am to 12.40 pm or
1.10 pm to 5.40 pm

*** Consideration is being given to run a shorter 3.5 hour tour from Oct to Mar in the afternoon from 1.00 pm to 4.30 pm for visitors who are only on a day trip to Stewart Island, whether by plane or boat.

Apr & Sept
8.30 am to 12.45 pm or 12.30 pm to 4.45 pm

May, Jun, July, Aug
9.00 am to 1.00 pm or 12.00 noon to 4.00 pm
IMPORTANT NOTE: Subject to prior booking and staff availabilty, we may be able to operate this tour to fit in with flight/ferry arrival and departures.

Start/End Golden Bay Wharf
(10 mins walk from Oban, Halfmoon Bay)
Fitness Reasonable
Terrain Well formed gravel tracks easy walk with steps
Adult NZ $135.00 p.p.
Child NZ $95.00 p.p.
Includes Water taxi
Minimum 4 persons
If you are only one or two persons, check to see if we have achieved minimum numbers or we can put you on our wait list.
Maximum 12 persons (except for larger private groups)

Our most popular trip on predator-free, nature sanctuary, Ulva Island is a must do for any visitor, especially bird watchers, plant enthusiasts and New Zealander's keen to learn about their country. An excellent educational trip. Enjoy an easy walk in primeval forest, superb birdsong and close encounters with endangered and rare New Zealand birds and birds unique to Stewart Island.

View our Ulva Island Brochure Here.

Book Now (click here to make a booking)

Binocular Hire
We have a limited number of newly purchased10 x 42 binoculars for hire at $15.00 per binocular per half day or $20.00 for full day trip for our guided clients. Let us know if you require a pair when you make a booking.

What we do

We walk the Island's track, at a gentle pace with frequent stops so that we can unravel the Island's many treasures, listen to birdsong, view endemic and native bird species and plants.

Enjoy a guided walk and excellent commentary on the primeval rainforest, birds, and plants, Maori and European cultural history. View ancient podocarp trees, lush tree ferns, delicate ground ferns, mosses and orchids in season. Learn about practical and medicinal uses of trees and plants.

You may hear kaka (native parrot) calling their liquid honey notes, interspersed with the bellbird's exquisite notes and the wonderfully varied calls of the tui. Watch lime-green parakeet flying amongst the treetops. Glimpse rare saddleback and yellowhead and try to spot New Zealand's smallest bird the rifleman.

Please see map below. Our guided trip starts at Golden Bay Wharf where we meet for our water taxi pickup. From Post Office Bay, Ulva Island, we walk along well formed tracks, to West End Juntion, Boulder Beach and back to Post Office Bay. On some trips we visit Sydney Cove and Flagstaff Point. The walk is easy catering for all age groups from young to old.

Our trips on Ulva Island are either 4.5 or 8.5 hours, shorter by arrangement. We spend more time on Ulva Island, take you further and show you more so you get the best out of your visit!

The half-day trip takes in the western end of Ulva Island. The full day trip covers the western end and the eastern track to the Snuggery, with a stop for lunch at Sydney Cove. The full day trip is suitable for clients who want to see and learn more.

Trip Times

We may be able to offer alternative times to accommodate your group, as well as trips of shorter distance and duration (2 - 3 hours), please contact us to discuss .

New Zealand or Stewart Island Robin
"...We are privileged to have spent the day on Ulva Island with a person who possesses a boundless knowledge of the island's flora & fauna. Thank you for all you shared with us, & opening our eyes to the amazing intricacies of Ulva. We loved the birds & views, & the gorgeous day!" Bob & Martha Dowling - USA
Map Ulva Island, New Zealand Ulva Island, New Zealand, Ruggedy Range (Tm) Wilderness Experience clients being shown filmy ferns.

Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience
"Birds & Forest Booking Office"
Stewart Island - Travel & Activities

14 Main Road
P O Box 188, Stewart Island, NZ

Ph: 64 3 219 1066
Fax: 64 3 219 1078
Mob: 64 274 784 433

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For all Enquiries, Bookings, please phone or contact:

Office now centrally located opposite Department of Conservation Office and approx. 2 minutes walk from flight/ferry See Map.

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