Stewart Island is pinioned by a number of tiny unspoilt islets at New Zealand’s southern tip and its largely unspoilt landscape has become a very popular eco-tourist destination.
One of the most remarkable and secluded spots you can find when visiting the area is Ulva Island in Half Moon Bay on the eastern edge of Stewart Island. Ulva Island has been kept free of predators and is now home to a beautiful bird sanctuary where visitors can see a host of native New Zealand birds – including our shy national bird, the kiwi – in their natural habitat.
Ulva Goodwillie – a direct descendant of the first Māori people of Stewart Island and named after the island itself – is a very successful Department of Conservation-approved guided walks operator. Ulva’s passion and intimate knowledge of the area provides marvellous commentary on the feast of native flora and fauna on show in this very special place.
Ulva Island has become synonymous with sustainability and conservation best-practice and the work there to keep the island a predator-free environment is now being emulated all over the world.
Whether you’re a bird person or not I challenge you to spend a three hour walk with Ulva and not find yourself poring over your childhood Spotter’s Guides when you get home. If you’re very lucky you might even come across a Kakapo – the bird that recently shot to worldwide infamy after its failed attempts to mate with British author Stephen Fry’s head!
Editorial by Jooles Clements