Iconic Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara is one of the few pest-free open sanctuaries in New Zealand. In this unspoiled rainforest you can see rare birds and plants at close quarters in a safe environment mostly unchanged by human activity and free of introduced animals.
Never milled and pest-free since 1997, the island offers threatened native species a safe haven in which to flourish. Healthy populations of kiwi, saddleback and yellowhead can be found – birds which often struggle on the mainland.
Take a short boat ride - accessible by water taxi, Ulva Island is situated inside Paterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera, Stewart Island/Rakiura and has a land area of 266.6 hectares and a coastline of about 11 km.
Most of the island is part of Rakiura National Park and the remaining 7.6 ha, between Post Office Bay and Sydney Cove, while privately owned, is mostly accessible to the public, by agreement with the Hunter family. Respect all signs and keep to paths.
Access is by boat, from either Halfmoon Bay or Golden Bay, on Stewart Island/Rakiura. Water taxis, guides and charter boats are available.
Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara was declared free of rats after a successful eradication programme that began in 1992 and was completed in 1996.
However, in 2010 a population of Norway rats was found to have established on the island. A major rat re-eradication operation was undertaken and a subsequent extensive survey using a rodent dog in 2012 has shown the island is once again free of rats.
Ulva Island has high natural values and its relatively unmodified state makes it an important island for the conservation of threatened species.
Rats can stowaway on a boat. Water taxis and tour boats carry poison bait stations to prevent rats getting to the island. Rats can also hitch a ride on private boats or kayaks. Weeds can be a problem too. Weed seeds are very small and can easily be introduced on footwear or in bags.
The Ulva Island Charitable Trust raises and manages funds to assist DOC to upgrade tracks and visitor facilities on Ulva Island and help keep it free of introduced pests and predators. See Ulva Island Charitable Trust.