The Secret Life of Birds and Trees

Fall in love with our predator-free open bird sanctuary, Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary, with this flagship tour from one of Ulva Island’s most experienced guiding operations.

Learn to identify the rare and endangered bird and plant life on this guided wander through the primeval forest while learning the fascinating history of the area.

This bespoke tour follows the birdsong, providing plenty of opportunity to stop for photographs. The peaceful environment will leave you feeling refreshed and reconnected to nature.

We guarantee your time on Ulva Island will leave you wanting more and you’ll understand why our experienced guides choose to call this special part of New Zealand home.

Included in your tour

  • Water taxi ride to Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary
  • A guided leisurely walk around Ulva Island, encompassing the most important cultural landmarks
  • Expert knowledge to enable you to confidently identify our unique birds and plant life
  • A handy bookmark checklist of all birds seen on your tour – ideal for use inside Ulva’s Visitor Guide to the island!
  • Department of Conservation concession fee

Need to know!

  • All ages are welcome, however, the walking track is not suitable for strollers or buggies
  • Suitable for all fitness levels, we travel at the pace of the group
  • Wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes
  • This outdoor experience takes place in most weather conditions – the warmth of your hosts will make up for inclement weather but please come prepared for the forecasted conditions on the day – light raincoats or umbrellas may be required
  • Our specialist guides provide tour commentary in English only
  • We regret that this tour is not suitable for travellers requiring wheelchair access

Booking information

  • Tours depart from Golden Bay Wharf, a 15 minute walk from Elgin Terrace.
  • Departure times:
    • October – April
      AM meet at 8.15 for an 8.30 departure, returning 12 noon
      PM meet at 12.45 for a 1.00 departure, returning 4.30
    • May – September:
      AM meet at 9.15 for a 9.30 departure, returning 12.30
      Afternoon trips available on request
  • Exclusive tours to cater for your needs can be arranged – we offer flexibility to fit in with your travel plans, please just ask!
  • Tours must be booked 72 hours prior, we recommend contacting us at least two weeks in advance to avoid missing out on your preferred date and time.
  • Tours can be arranged all year round and we offer flexibility to fit in with your travel plans.
  • Tour length is approximate and varies according to party size, weather, sites and activities on the day. If you have specific time constraints please let us know.
  • Prices are in New Zealand dollars and include all taxes.
  • Ulva’s Guided Walks is closed on 25-26 December, Good Friday, and 25 April (ANZAC Day).

Meet your guides

Ulva Goodwillie
Ulva Goodwillie

Ulva Goodwillie established Ulva's Guided Walks in 2000 to meet a growing need for knowledgeable guides to help visitors identify and enjoy the abundant birdlife, flora and fauna in the region.

Named after both Ulva Island in Rakiura/Stewart Island, and also the wildlife sanctuary of Ulva Isle in the Hebrides of Scotland, Ulva is a published author with tremendous depth of knowledge. She combines traditional stories passed down over generations with an abiding passion for her home environment.

Her team of guides have earned an enviable international reputation and hosted many film crews and nature documentaries on the area.

“It’s a privilege to show people the southernmost bird sanctuary in New Zealand and help them identify our rare and endangered birds and plants that you can’t see anywhere else in the world. We love seeing others share our passion once they’ve experienced this for themselves.”