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Ulva Island Explorer

Discover Stewart Island from the water on a leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary.

The cruise will showcase some of Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery with its hidden coves and unspoilt beaches. You’ll hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement from your guide as we pass various landmarks. Your guide is passionate about this area, provides informative commentary and is more than happy to answer questions. While on board, keep a look out for fur seals and penguins – we see a lot of them around this area.

Paterson Inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island and we’ll stop there for a 45 minute guided walk. The island is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species.  A regular highlight is to encounter an inquisitive weka 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.

  • Modern comfortable catamaran
  • Duration 2 hrs 30 minutes - 3 hrs
  • Delicious picnic lunch options available (need to pre-order)
  • Suitable for most ages and fitness levels
  • Small group size
  • $99 per person

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More Information

Departure Location

Stewart Island Ferry Terminal, Stewart Island

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: $21pp (1 Oct 2021 - 30 Sep 2022)

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).


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.

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.


In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, 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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