Ulva and Stewart island, New Zealand- birder's paradise

We arrived at Stewart island, the southernmost island of New Zealand, and were immediately immersed in nature. This is a pristine wonderland, with rare birds and plentiful greenery. You can hike all over the 17 miles of island, or take a scenic bus tour. It was quite hilly, so it can be challenging. The beaches are nice but with cold water, so you probably wouldn't want to swim there. There were kayaks, motor scooters, and bikes for rent at Stewart Island Experience. We took a walk into the center of town, which only had about 20 buildings. We found a great little grocery store and a merino wool shop where we found a few sweaters.  Abdul was sold on the fact that this was 'the southernmost shop in the whole world', which I have to admit...was pretty cool.

The highlight of the day was a trip by boat to nearby Ulva island. You can take a boat taxi there for $20 round trip. It's a wildlife refuge and people go here just to enjoy nature for a few hours. They've had a project to eradicate rats from the island and now there are no predators. Some of the birds are so used to seeing humans, they sit on the ground and sing for you. We had a guide take us for 2 hours on well marked trails, and she explained a bit of the history as we walked. When we heard a bird sing out, she would look for it and tell us the names and habits. The air was so fresh and energizing, with a sweet smell. We thoroughly enjoyed getting out in nature for the day.

tiny orchids growing in a tree

Lush forestation and green all around us

Gorgeous parrot
This little bird came right up to us


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