Facebook    YouTube 
 

| Home | Diary | Travels | Treks | Blogs |

 
 
 
 
Home > Treks > Stewart > Day 2 > 2.1
<< Previous | Next >>

Island of Friendly Birds

Island of Friendly Birds
 
 

The following morning dawned dull and overcast. This was perhaps to be expected as it rains here on Stewart Island two days in every three throughout the year. Looking out the window of my hostel the waters of the small harbour were  fairly calm, so thankfully there won’t be the cold wind that was blowing yesterday. The town below looked rather sleepy.

Oban
Oban

Numerous boats lay quietly moored in the placid bay. I walked down down the hill into the village and found the small new house where the tour operator I was going to be travelling with was based. Her office had just opened. I called in.

Furhana was an Arabic British lady who had travelled the world and somehow came to love New Zealand, particularly Stewart Island. She settled here and started her own business running tours around the island. I had seen her website a couple of weeks ago and phoned her to make the bookings. From that I had worked out three days of travelling. I wondered what had inspired her to travel here in the most far flung corner of the world from her British home.

Today was going to be the first day, heading across to Ulva Island in the Patterson Inlet for a full day nature tour. We were ready to go so we climbed into her four wheel drive vehicle and headed above five minutes away over the hill to Patterson Inlet.

Leaving Stewart Island
Leaving Stewart Island

The dark water was mirror smooth. There were a few boat sheds on the small golden beach spanning a short bay, then native forest above that. A jetty extended into the small bay which was completely surrounded by islands and more of mainland Stewart Island giving it complete shelter from the rough open sea.

There were about ten of us in the tour group. The others had already assembled at the wharf. We climbed on board a small boat which took off across the quiet waters of Patterson Inlet.

The short channel between the small bay on Stewart Island and on Ulva Island was a little choppy, but once we entered the tranquil Post Office Cove, the water was perfectly calm again. The golden beach stood out against the dark native forest above and the deep turquoise water below. On either side of the beach was a very pretty forested rocky headland. A small jetty extended from the left hand headland.

The boat moored to the jetty allowing us to get out. A concrete trail went from the jetty to a flat piece of land just above the beach. At the end of the headland was a sign which read:

Welcome to Ulva Island – Nau Mai Haere Mai kit e Wharawhara

Ulva Island is a rat free refuge for rare native plants and animals. If you didn’t check your bags before embarking for Ulva Island, please do it now. Contact the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre in Halfmoon Bay urgently if you find any sign of rats.

Sydney Cove 5 min, Flagstaff point lookout 5 min, Boulder Beach 35 min, West End Beach 40 min, Boulder Beach to West End Beach 20 min.

Self Guided Walks – Times are one way and include stops, using the booklet obtainable from the shelter. History walk 30 mins, Conservation walk 50 mins, Nature walk 50 mins.

Robin
Robin

We entered the track to head towards West End Beach. Within seconds a very friendly little robin came to us. This was a rare bird that isn’t found much anymore but proliferates here on Ulva Island, and to a lesser extent on Stewart Island. They are very friendly birds, but the reality is they like to come close to humans as we disturb the insects they eat.

This bird had some tags clipped onto its legs. These tags were used to identify the birds and monitor their movements in the forest.

Orchid
Orchid

Many birds in New Zealand are like this. For millions of years they had had no predators. The only predatory animals in New Zealand were a huge eagle with a three metre wingspan, but these only hunted the moa. Both the eagle and the moa are now extinct.

When humans arrived in New Zealand, they brought with them all kinds of animal for livestock and hunting. Unfortunately New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna was so different to the Pacific Island and European ecosystems. Those ecosystems naturally had predators and were largely mammal based. New Zealand on the other hand had no native mammals apart from two very small varieties of bat. The ecosystem had been very bird based.

Dense forest
Dense forest

Because the birds had no natural predators, they had no fear. Many birds became ground foraging and completely lost their ability to fly. Others retained their ability to fly but only very short distances in between trees to hunt insects. As they were used to no predators, they came across as very friendly and trusting. Unfortunately on the main islands introduced predators have all but wiped out the natural bird populations. This is mainly through the introduced species not having any natural predators here allowing them to proliferate. It is not so much the native animals themselves are hunted, it’s their eggs that are eaten preventing them from successfully maintaining their population.

Filmy ferns
Filmy ferns

As a result native birds are now quite rare on the mainland islands. A few offshore islands have been established as bird sanctuaries. Ulva Island is one of them.

As we walked through the forest we could hear a lot of these birds, including the tiny rifleman which Furhana told us some had migrated by themselves from here and re-established a population on mainland Stewart Island a few kilometres westward along the Patterson Island coast from the town.

View all photos...

<< Previous | Next >>
 

 

 

About this Page

Date:

 

Location: Country:

 

Latitude: Longitude: Altitude:

18 February 2009

 

Stewart Island

New Zealand

 

46°55'S
168°08'E
4m ASL

 

Google Maps Link

 

 

 

Jeff

Where is Walkabout Jeff?

 

 

 

Jeff

What is happening in Walkabout Jeff's hometown?

 

 

 

Jeff

Who is Walkabout Jeff?

Any normal person's idea of going out involves going to the local pub for a drink with a few mates. Walkabout Jeff isn't normal.

 

Read more...

 

 

 

Follow Walkabout Jeff

Facebook    YouTube

 

 
 
 

| Home | Diary | Travels | Treks | Blogs |

 
© 2001-2019 walkaboutjeff.com - Copyright - Disclaimer - Who is Walkabout Jeff?