Ulva Island is the largest of 20 islands within Paterson Inlet, with an area of approx. 270 hectares. It is managed by the Department of Conservation as a public asset. In 1899, Ulva Island became the first reserve for the protection of fauna and flora in the Stewart Island region. It is a beautiful island, clad in forest, with pictureque beaches and bays.
Ulva Island was cleared of rats and deer during the 1990's and has to be constantly managed, due to occasional reinvasions. Since 2000, four species of rare, endangered and threatened birds have been released on Ulva Island to compliment other native and endemic birds.
There is some evidence of Maori having visited Ulva Island and this may have included some temporary settlement, though little is known.
Ulva Island was previously named Cooper Island and at some point the name was changed, though no one knows why and when. Charles Triall, an Orkney Islander purchased the only area of private land in the 1860's and settled there. He opened and managed a grocery store on Ulva Island and in 1872 was authorised to operate a post office. The shop and post office were important to the early settlers of Stewart Island.
Charles Traill was an avid naturalist and dredged around the coast of New Zealand and further afield for shells. He provided museums and naturalists overseas with collections of native New Zealand plants, shells and whale skeletons.
In the 1920's the private land was sold by auction to Dr Howard Hunter, whose family, continue to enjoy their holidays here.
In 2002, the conservation area on Ulva Island was included within the boundaries of Rakiura National Park and continues to be managed as a predator-free island by the Department of Conservation.
Birds released on Ulva Island include: South Island saddleback, yellowhead (mohua), Stewart Island robin, rifleman, kiwi.
Other birds include: kaka (forest parrot), red crowned parakeet, yellow-crowned parakeet, wood pigeon, weka, tui, bellbird, brown creeper, fantail, grey warbler, tomtit, oystercatcher, kingfisher, black-backed gull and red billed gull, little blue penguin, spotted shag, Stewart Island shag, pied shag, little blag shag.
A few seabirds may be viewed from Ulva Island when present in Paterson Inlet.
Ulva Island boasts an original forest, comprising primeval ferns, podcarps trees, native flowering trees, mosses, liverworts, lichen and orchids. Some exotics were planted on private land during the time of Charles Traill's settlement.
Aihe Eco Charters and Water Taxi provides a water taxi service from Golden Bay Wharf, Stewart Island, to and from Ulva Island. The only landing point with a jetty on Ulva Island is at Post Office Cove.
Ruggedy Range™ Wilderness Experience offers 1/2 day and full day guided walks and bird watching trips to Ulva Island.
There is no overnight accommodation or camping for the general public on Ulva Island. The holiday homes at Post Office Cove are for the sole use of the Hunter Family.
There are 5 kms of walking trails for the general public. The gravel tracks are well formed with some steps, mostly even and suitable for most people.
Sections of the coastline around Ulva Island lie within a marine reserve established in 2004. This includes Sydney Cove and around the Boulder Beach area.
About five seats can be found along 5 kms of walking tracks on Ulva Island, complimented by:
- Shelter at Post Office Cove jetty
- Shelter and picnic tables at Sydney Cove
- Long drop toilet at at Post Office Cove and Sydney Cove