Parrot on Ulva Island, New Zealand.

© Peter Kolejak/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ulva Island

Top choice in Fiordland & Southland

A tiny paradise covering only 269 hectares, Ulva Island / Te Wharawhara is a great place to see lots of native birds. Established as a bird sanctuary in 1922, it remains one of Stewart Island/Rakiura’s wildest corners. The island was declared rat-free in 1997 and three years later was chosen as the site to release endangered South Island saddlebacks. Any water-taxi company will run you to the island (around $25 return) from Stewart Island's Golden Bay wharf, with scheduled services offered by Ulva Island Ferry.

The air is bristling with birdsong, which can be appreciated on walking tracks in the island’s northwest as detailed in Ulva: Self-Guided Tour ($2), available at the pier or from the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre. Many paths intersect amid beautiful stands of rimu, miro, totara and rata. To get the most out of Ulva Island, go on a tour.

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