Welcome to Stewart Island & Sails Ashore +64 3 219 1151 tait@sailsashore.co.nz

Ulva Island Open Sanctuary

 
………. How The World Once Was ……..

Ulva Island Open Sanctuary

 ………. Post Office Cove landing ……..
 

Ulva Island Open Sanctuary

 ………. A Fern Filled Forest ……..

Ulva Island Open Sanctuary

…….. How the world once was ……….

Technically Ulva Island is temperate Rain Forest. ………….We don’t have a high rainfall, around 1600 mm p.a, but we do have a lot of Rain Days. Perhaps as high as 3 days out of every 5 days with some rain. With the recent dramatic changes in our climate this ratio is probably getting lower. But it still means we have an amazing forest, one which reflects New Zealand as the home of the worlds ferns. They range from magnifying glass size to some which approach 15 metres in height .

Our Forest is a rata, kamahi, podocarp association… ……….. Stewart Island has no naturally occurring beech (Nothofagus spc), and in comparison to the rest of New Zealand tree form is somewhat lower. But it is a magnificent forest non the less, and as is now free of introduced mammals is as close to pristine as any place in New Zealand that we can visit.

Native Birds are everywhere and populations are healthy, thanks to the removal of rats. We don’t have a huge variety…. only around 18 land species… but they get really up close and personal… and some of my guests who come equipped with super long lens get quite frustrated at times. And as our native birds show little fear of people so birding on Ulva is a quite special treat.
Ulva Island Forest

Add to this our delicate Native Orchids and Ulva Island becomes a very special experience

Your Guide

Peter

Maybe Meet & Greet the Locals

See threatened native birds

Delicate  Native Orchids

Splashes of Colour

A Tree in a Forest, A Forest in a Tree

A sapling when Maori arrive in this country

Happiness is a Photographer on Ulva Island

Where The Ulva Island Story Starts.

The story of the Ulva Island Open Sanctuary probably starts with the efforts of Charles Traill, the first Postmaster, who persuaded the Government of the day to have the Island declared a reserve over 100 years ago. Ulva became a “destination” for early tourists, partly because of its Island situation and virgin forest and partly because of it’s “Southern-most Post Office” status.

Rats and later White-tailed deer were early invaders of both Ulva and Stewart Island and over the years had a significant effect on forest ecosystems.

Both species were eradicated from Ulva , and post eradication 4 seriously at risk bird species were successfully re-introduced.

Today Ulva Island is a foundation member of a group of animal free sanctuaries and is perhaps the closest to pristine of any area of new Zealand open to the public.

We have some 18 species of native land birds to be seen on Ulva, and as they all evolved without disturbance by mammalian predators, can be watched going about their daily lives with little sense of our presence. For Birders from more “challenging” environments this can be a quite mind blowing experience.

My Association with Ulva Island

I started work on Ulva Island in 1969, as Forest Ranger, and our tours to Ulva draw on this initial experience, fleshed out with the many science and research expeditions I have field managed, and with my own day to day observations.
And while much of the tour is just the joy of observing the birds, trees, orchids and ferns we see, I do try to explain how the forest (works) and how the management has achieved the delight that we now enjoy.

I knew there would be profound changes in the ecology, but never did I think as quickly as has happened. And in fact I’m having to rethink my views of what our forests once looked like.
Some time ago I was asked to write a 2000 word Article for Indigena Magazine. It’s hard to compress Ulva Island into 2000 words, but hopefully it will help understand just what Ulva is all about ……. Read Article Here
A friend sent me a link to a short video that was a revelation to me, and although it starts with a re-introduction, rather than a removal as Ulva was, it did help clarify my thinking as to what was happening… and it’s a lovely video ……..

We do hope that you take the time to visit Ulva Island while on Stewart Island. It really is an experience not to be missed. You can self guide… Water Taxis depart more or less on demand from Golden Bay, and DoC produce an excellent guide book.
But your most rewarding experience will be with a guide, and we would be honored to show you our very favorite place.

Birds we have seen on the way to and while ashore on Ulva Island

(in no particular order)
Click on the BLUE underlined birds names for details on each bird.

Both Cuckoos do frequent Ulva, and I have heard  but never seen them

Sadly we don’t have recorded song for all species…..a work in progress ….

  Land Birds Shore and Sea Birds
 Rifleman Red Billed Gull
 Grey Warbler Black Billed Gull
 Brown Creeper Black Backed Gull
 Yellow Breasted Tit Black (Variable) Oystercatcher
 Fantail South Island Pied Oystercatcher
 Stewart Island Robin White Fronted Tern
 Yellowhead Black Fronted Tern
 South Island Saddleback Shy Mollymawk
 Bellbird Salvins Mollymawk
 Tui Bullers Mollymawk
 Red Crowned Parakeet Northern Royal Albatross
 Yellow Crowned Parakeet Titi
 Morepork Little Blue Penguin
 Weka Yellow Eyed Penguin
 Kaka Fiordland Crested Penguin
 Pigeon Cape Pigeon
 Australasian Harrier Gannet
 Kiwi Stewart Island Shag
 Longtailed Cuckoo Pied Shag
 Shining Cuckoo Blue Shag
  

Orchids on Ulva IslandOrchids, Sails Ulva Island Tour, Stewart Island

New Zealand has a surprisingly large number of native orchids. Surprising because on a cursory walk through our forests, alpine areas, bogs and open spaces we often fail to spot them, perhaps pre-conditioned to the large and flamboyant blooms we see in the florists. Closer examination shows us small and delicate blooms in all sorts of places.

One of the real delights of Ulva Island are the orchids we find growing, often in astonishing profusion throughout the forest. Many of them were quite hard to find in years past, and we can only think that those that have recently appeared are yet more beneficiaries of the rat free state of Ulva.

To illustrate the improvement in numbers, about 8 years ago I stepped backward off a track and stepped on a Spider Orchid. Probably the only specimen for several hundred yards and I got seriously yelled at by a botanist in the party. Today you cannot walk through the forest without standing on, in some places, carpets of them. And yet in mainland Stewart Island forest many remain difficult to find.

Sails Tours, Ulva IslandSome time ago Iris gave me a copy of “The Nature Guide to New Zealand Native Orchids” by Ian St George and on following up I discovered the website of New Zealand Native Orchid Group .

Both the book and the web site are excellent both for general interest and as a reference resource and although I had thought to have my own photos of Stewart Island orchids on this page decided that I would only be trying to re-invent the wheel. So with the kind permission of the Orchid Group and with special mention of Ian St George and Michael Pratt the society webmaster I have linked to the appropriate pages of the species which may be found on Stewart Island.

Those I have identified and observed flowering on Ulva are marked with their flowering months.

However in recent years this could be seen as a rough guide only and may vary by a month or more either side of indicated

Proud members NZ Native Orchid Society

Grouping  Latin Name  Flowers
  Pterostylis bluff Nov/Jan
   Pterostylis gramineaAug/Dec 
   Pterostylis banksii 
Green Hooded
Orchids 
  Pterostylis australis  
   Pterostylis cernua 
   Pterostylis aff montana
 
   Pterostylis auriculataOct/Dec 
   Pterostylis venosa Nov/Dec
  Corybas acuminatusAug/Dec 
   Corybas iridescensNov/Dec 
Spider Orchids   Corybas orbiculatus 
   Corybas aff trilobus Aug/Dec
   Corybas oblongus Aug/Dec
   Corybas macranthusOct/Jan 
  Petalochilus_aff_chlorostylusAug/Dec 
Caladenia Orchids    Caladenia lyallii Nov/Dec
   Caladenia chlorostyla  Aug/Dec
   Winika cunninghamii Dec/Feb
Epiphytic Orchids    Earina autumnalis March/April
  Earina mucronata Dec/Feb
   Earina aestivalis Nov/Dec
   Drymoanthus adversus  
   Drymoanthus flavus 
Leek Orchids   Prasophyllum colensoi Jan/Feb
 Gnat Orchids  Acianthus sinclairii
 
   Townsonia deflexa  
 Onion Orchids  Microtis unifolia Dec/Jan
   Microtis aff unifolia March/April
   Microtis oligantha Dec/Feb
Potato (Black)
Orchids
  Gastrodia longcolumn Dec/Feb
   Gastrodia longcolumn black Dec/Feb
   Gastrodia minor Dec/Feb
    Gastrodia cunninghamii
 
   Thelymitra cyanea Nov/Jan
Sun Orchids  Thelymitra intermedia Jan/Feb
  Thelymitra aff longifolia Dec/Jan
Thelymitra pulchella Nov/Jan
Thelymitra hatchii Jan/Feb
Thelymitra formosa  
  Aporostylis bifolia Dec/Jan
 Other Orchids  Chiloglottis cornuta Nov/Feb
Waireia stenopetala  
Adenochilus gracilis  

Sails Ashore, Kowhai Lane & Sails Tours

11 View Street,
Stewart Island, 9846
NEW ZEALAND

+64 3 219 1151
Email: tait@sailsashore.co.nz
Web: www.sailsashore.co.nz