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Ulva Island Birds & Forest Full Day Guided Trip

Page updated: 12 January 2017

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About Ulva Island

Trip Details - Full Day

Trip Details - Half Day

Enviro Gold Award

Kaka, Native Parrots Small Guided Group on Ulva Island

"Brilliant forest & birds & guide to match - best yet in New Zealand." P & G Jackson - England

"Very educating and nice walk, time to enjoy and see and watch the singing, flying birds and forest." H A Sorenson - Denmark

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, 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!

Flightless Weka, Native Wood Hen

"This was a birthday trip of a lifetime. Loved seeing the birds, saddlebacks yellowheads & others."
C & G Pentecost - NZ

"Brilliant! Brought context & knowledge to a fascinating corner of the world..." Robert Brodey - Canada
Yellow-crowned Parakeet, Kakariki
"I really enjoyed the walk and learnt alot. Nice with short stories, Moari history coupled with the plants and trees..."
S Berquise - Sweden
Ulva Island - Birds & Forest (Full Day)
Trip Summary ULVA ISLAND Birds & Forest FULL DAY
Duration 8 hours on Ulva Isand
Summer Time: 8.5 hrs inc. boat
Off-Season Time: 8 hrs inc. boat
Distance Approx. 9 kms (5.5 miles)

Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar
8.10 am to 4.40 pm***
*** If you plan to leave Stewart Island by ferry on the same day, there is time to take the 5.00 pm ferry sailing.

Apr & Sep
8.30 am to 4.30 pm

May, Jun, Jul, Aug
9.00 am 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. Old trail to Snuggery can be muddy.
Adult NZ $255.00 p.p.
Child NZ $225.00 p.p.
Lunch NZ $18.00 p.p. (optional or bring your own)
Includes Water taxi, hot drinks and some refreshments
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)

With so much to see and do on Ulva Island - take time to explore and enjoy New Zealand's endemic and native bird and plant life and Ulva Island's near- pristine forest, its superb beaches and coves.

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.

We spend more time on Ulva Island, take you further and show you more so you get the best out of your visit!

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 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

Meet with your guide from Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience and take the water taxi from Stewart Island for 10 minutes across Paterson Inlet to Ulva Island, a predator-free reserve. This picturesque forested island has easy walks, beautiful sandy bays and offers a chance to view rare and endangered birds in a wilderness setting.

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.

Continue on and take lunch at Sydney Cove, enjoy coastal views and birdsong intermingled with the sound of breaking waves. Watch the antics of the cheeky weka a flightless bird. After lunch walk along an historical track to The Snuggery. Away from the main tracks we enjoy the tranquil forest sounds, exploring the Snuggery, its bird and plantlife before returning to Stewart Island. It is a privilege to be able to enjoy this special corner of Ulva Island.

Trip Times

We may be able to offer alternative times to accommodate your group, as well as trips of shorter distance and duration (5 - 7 hours), please contact us to discuss.

Stewart Island Weka

Redcrowned Parakeet - New Zealand

Spider Orchid
Map of Ulva Island, New Zealand

Redcrowned Parakeet
Courtesy: Dept. of Conservation

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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