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  • Woman in lush forest on Ulva Island, Stewart Island Woman in lush forest on Ulva Island, Stewart Island
    Listen to nature's soundtrack Ulva Island
  • Couple sightseeing on the Ulva Island Explorer Couple sightseeing on the Ulva Island Explorer
    Venture South Stewart Island

Ulva Island Explorer

Discover Stewart Island from the water. Enjoy a leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet viewing hidden coves and unspoilt beaches.

Along the way learn about the early Maori history and European settlement including whaling. Our skipper and nature guide provide detailed commentary throughout the cruise and are happy to answer any questions. While on board, keep a lookout for fur seals, penguins and other wildlife, as sightings are common.

Then disembark at Ulva Island, a renowned wildlife sanctuary for a 45-minute guided walk with a specialist nature guide. View rare plants and rich birdlife, including the inquisitive weka, which are often seen on the beach.

For the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet, relax on board our modern catamaran and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to base.

  • Delicious picnic lunches are available (if pre-ordered; extra cost)
  • Duration: 2 hrs 30 mins - 3 hrs
  • Departs from Stewart Island Visitor Terminal, Main Wharf
  • Suitable for most ages and fitness levels
  • Small group size.

Departure Location

Stewart Island Visitor Terminal

What’s included

  • Cruise of Paterson Inlet
  • 45 minute guided walk on Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary
  • On board nature guide 

Lunch Options

Picnic Lunch

Price: Adult $20, Child $20 (1 Oct 2020 - 30 Sep 2021)

Sandwich, fresh fruit, muesli slice/piece of cake, cheese and crackers, fruit drink, dried fruits (raisins, berries, etc.), complimentary tea and coffee.

Please note: If you require a vegetarian lunch, or have any special dietary needs, please add this into the comments box during the booking process. You can order any of the lunch options when you make your booking. Menus are indicative only.

What to bring

Non-slip shoes/boots, waterproof jacket, warm sweater/fleece jacket, sunscreen/ sunglasses, insect repellent and camera.

Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara

The island sanctuary is located within Paterson Inlet (Whaka a Te Wera) and offers the opportunity to view rarer native species including weka, kākā, kākāriki, tūī, bellbirds (korimako), pigeons (kereru), fantails (piwakawaka), tomtit (miromiro) and brown creeper (pīpipi).

Tui

The saddleback (tieke), yellowhead (mohua), Stewart Island robin (toutouwai) and rifleman (titipounamu) have all been successfully reintroduced to Ulva Island. 

Some lucky visitors to the sanctuary have also seen the Stewart Island brown kiwi (tokoeka) during the day.

Ulva Island is part of the Rakiura National Park and covers an approximate 269 hectares which are mostly managed by the Department of Conservation. 

The island, which has no permanent human population, is supported by the Ulva Island Charitable Trust, a group of Stewart Islanders, who raise funds for research, maintain the tracks and infrastructure, and help with bird releases.

Pigeon (kereru)


Since the eradication of rats, Ulva Island has offered a predator-free environment for the birds and plant life.

In 2005, common skinks were transferred to the island from the other side of Paterson Inlet.  A rodent dog ensures that the predator free status is maintained and traps are located across the island to minimise the chance of re-evasion.

The rainforest on Ulva Island consists of rimu, southern rātā and kamahi, and also diverse varieties of broadleaf and ferns.

Ulva Island has easy walking tracks and is an aspiring place to visit for anyone interested in native birds or plants.

Kids Go FREE

We understand that travelling to/from Stewart Island with children can be expensive, which is why we offer ‘Kids Go Free’ specials on our ferry and sometimes our tours or cruises.

We've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.

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Ulva Island Explorer, Stewart Island, New Zealand

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