Nothing changes in Stewart Island and that’s a good thing.  Being charged more for petrol is a minor inconvenience for being able to explore one of the most pristine places on earth. Along with his best tramping buddy, John Hall-Jones, Michael took a 2-day break to visit tourist operators and to join Ulva’s Guided Stewart Island Walks on Ulva Island:

Michael, John and Ulva

Michael, John and Ulva

Heading for Ulva Island by watertaxi

The day begins at 8.30am where he and John are collected by water taxi and taken to Ulva Island, located 15 minutes away from Stewart Island  (the water taxi driver, Peter, is the ex-schoolteacher…who never left…that’s the way it works over here). Ulva is a direct descendant of the first Maori people in Stewart Island and what she doesn’t know about the area, isn’t worth putting on a postage stamp. Now the best way to explore one of Stewart Island Walks is with a local guide.

John and Ulva Island 2

The walk covers the history of Ulva Island (some amusing) and of course the very special birdlife that Michael loves. Goes without saying that you’re never too old to hug a tree:

Michael tree hugger Ulva Island

Ulva Island is full of local birdlife

The little Stewart Island Robins are breeding at the moment. It’s a curious thing to see bald patches across their breastbone. Ulva explains that the Robins pluck the feathers from their chest to expose more of their body warmth to the eggs. Hope those kids are grateful!

Stewart Island Robin

Stewart Island Robin

…there’s a very good reason why Ulva rakes the ground occasionally with her stick. This action brings the insects to the surface – easy pickings for stressed out Robins.

There’s a richness of lichen and medicinal herbs to be found on Ulva Island and magnificent Orchids. The wildlife includes blue and yellow-eyed penguins.  And those Mollymawks (small Albatrosses) make a great photo:

Mollymawks2

Ok, time to saddle up the horses and leave this beautiful place. Now to find that John….”John”..?

John relaxing on Ulva Island

Seems the only challenge is getting people to leave the place… for Stewart Island Walks.

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