Natural Attraction

Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara

Ulva Island, Rakiura National Park

Ulva Island Te Wharawhara is a pristine predator-free open island sanctuary in Paterson Inlet - one of the few pest-free sanctuaries in New Zealand. The island's abundant birdlife, rich forest, interesting history, golden sand beaches and a variety of well-maintained walking tracks make for a wonderful half or full day visit for the whole family. Ulva Island is one of only a few wildlife sanctuaries in New Zealand that is open to visitors all year around. 

The relatively isolated, but easily accessible island has become an important natural resource area. It is a sanctuary for both birds and plants, holding species that on the mainland of New Zealand are rare or have died out. In 1997, the island was declared rat-free, following an eradication programme, and extirpated birds have been reintroduced to the island. The birds include the South Island Saddleback Tieke, the Yellowhead Mohua and the Stewart Island Robin. Other birds on the island that are rare on the mainland include the Stewart Island subspecies of Southern Brown Kiwi Tokoeka, the Rifleman (Tītitipounamu), yellow-crowned and red-fronted parakeets, and South Island Kākā, as well as several other species. The endangered Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Hoiho) uses the island for breeding sites.

The island, which covers an area of 269 hectares, is a 10-minute ride by boat from Golden Bay. It has no permanent inhabitants and most of its land area is part of the Rakiura National Park, although about 7.6 hectares is privately owned. It is managed by the Department of Conservation with support from the Ulva Island Charitable Trust, a group of dedicated Stewart Islanders who help to raise funds for tracks and infrastructure and assist with bird releases and research work.

Before departing for Ulva Island, you are urged to thoroughly check all of your equipment, including footwear, to ensure you are not unwittingly transporting harmful stowaways, especially weed seeds and rodents, to the island. While visiting the island, please respect the wildlife and try not to disturb them in any way.

Great South
Last modified
Thu 13 Jan 2022
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