The first trip that I took was to Ulva Island, an open bird sanctuary in the Paterson Inlet, on Sunday, 21 December 2014. Birds and regenerated rainforest are the main attractions on this small island, about 10 min. by small boat away from Golden Bay Wharf. I took the 8:30 a.m. water taxi with a family of four, a couple and their birding guide and was going to be picked up at noon, but had I not made it, I could have also taken a water taxi at 2 p.m. There was some drizzling rain on the way over, but that didn’t matter much once I was in the forest because the leaves shielded against everything.
Just a few short minutes away from the wharf I encountered my first weka. It was oblivious to my presence picking away in the ground to find everything edible. I continued to Sydney Cove where I had the entire beach to myself. The weather was still not great, but that didn’t stop an oystercatcher from taking a walk. Thick kelp was lazily lying on the beach and that was it.
I continued on my round trip of the island heading inland through thick rainforest keeping an eye out for native birds. Tūī and kākā were the birds that I heard most, but did not spot until later in my journey. It was like the entire forest was talking and swishing past high up in the trees which were rimu, rāta, tōtara, miro and a few others. I spotted a Stewart Island robin who sat on the ground long enough for me to take a good photo. And of course, there were heaps of fern.
The sun came out more when I arrived at Boulder Beach, and I spent a bit of time watching two kiwi hunting for food in the sand, and during the entire time, they hardly looked up or stopped. There was also a pair of oystercatchers. One was nesting high up on the beach. They are easily spotted by their bright orange-reddish beak and eyes.
Back into the forest I went to listen to the birds call out, sound the alarm or just chat with each other. The next stop was West End Beach, which was rather deserted as well. On my way back to the Post Office Bay I encountered a very curious young Stewart Island robin who seemed excited to see someone.
When the islands around Stewart Island were first settled, Ulva Island was the hub and had the post office. Hence, the name for the bay: Post Office Bay. It was central to all the small islands around making it an ideal location for the mail to arrive and be distributed. There is “Flagstaff Point” where the postmaster would hoist the flag when there was any mail, and everybody from around would row in.a
Back at Golden Bay, I didn’t want to take the short route to Halfmoon Bay since I still had all afternoon and the weather had cleared up remarkably showing itself in beautiful sunshine. So I decided to follow the footpath along the coastline and explore more of the island.
If you want to read more about my vacation on Stewart Island, check out the following posts:
- Heading to the anchor of New Zealand
- From bay to bay
- 81 mouse traps to Māori Beach
- Albatrosses aplenty
- Of bays and forest around Oban
- Christmas Day: A horseshoe and a dead man
- Catch of the day: Blue Cod
- A word on sandflies
- A Local’s Tail and take-off
- Stewart Island / Rakiura in photos and videos
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