Sunday, 16th December – Stewart Island/Ulva Island

Beautiful, if chilly, start to the day.

After breakfast, sauntered down to the local supermarket to get some victuals for our visit to Ulva Island, as this is a pristine sanctuary with no cafes, restaurants, or similar. It is one of the very few places on earth that is dedicated to regenerate the native wildlife, keeping it weed and pest free (it has no rats, for example), but where us hoi polloi are allowed to walk and enjoy. And enjoy we did. Hugely.

We then walked the 25 minutes or so to Golden Bay to catch the midday ferry to Ulva Island. Even this was a charming spot:

Even more charming was the tradition of issuing “tickets” for the ferry on local leaves.

These were genuine leaves of the puheretaiko plant, which is incredibly tough. Letters written on these leaves were accepted as legal post until the early 1970s.

So, off we went to Ulva Island. A 15 minute flat crossing. Very enjoyable.

So, off we started, along with at least 30 other folk who had come across on the ferry, on a walk around the northern end of the island. We planned to do all of the walks available – a total of around two and a half hours of gentle strolling and stopping often just to take in the beauty and serenity of this place.

First up – Sydney Cove named after a sealing ship from the 1800s:

A walk across the island of around 40 minutes took us to Boulder Beach, where we stopped in glorious sunshine for our picnic lunch (rather indifferent corned beef sandwiches, a packet of crisps and an apple/satsuma). We were joined in this effort by a Stewart Island weka, a flightless bird which has become accustomed to humans and will go so far as to try and nick stuff from your bag.

An oystercatcher provided additional entertainment:

Then off again to West End Beach, another haven of sunshine and rest. For some reason, mussels love this area.


Time to go back eastwards across the island. Bit of a tramp through forest, but we were stopped in our tracks by a group of fellow travellers who had spotted, of all things, a kiwi! These are normally nocturnal and very shy, so to see one in the wild was actually really rather special. The pictures aren’t great, but hopefully show something of note. We’d been complaining that we hadn’t seen much wildlife in its natural habitat in either Australia or New Zealand. This was a real bonus.

Then back to the ferry “terminal” for our return trip to Stewart Island:

We were lucky enough to catch a water taxi back, rather than the ferry itself. Faster and more exciting at no extra charge. Result.

We’d done quite a lot of walking, so it was a slow trudge back to the lodge over hilly terrain. Got there eventually.

After refreshing ourselves, out we set on Shanks’s pony again for our pre-booked evening meal at the Church Hill restaurant. Very slowly. It’s hilly round here.

Charming restaurant, with nice views again on the way.

Lovely meal with a genial host who enjoyed shooting the breeze about travel in general.

Then a final trudge back to the lodge before we check out tomorrow morning and fly back to Invercargill. Weather looking very warm. Great!

2 responses to “Sunday, 16th December – Stewart Island/Ulva Island”

  1. Amazing to see a kiwi! How wonderful!I bet you had to Google \”puheretaiko\” for the spelling. 😉

  2. Nah – just used the guide book!

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