• Penelope Haines

The last day. Ulva Island - Day 7

Updated: Jul 23

Ulva island was probably the most anticipated visit we would make on this trip, so it seemed appropriate that it would be our ultimate experience.


Also, it was the beginning of the end. First thing this morning we packed our bags ready for departure. Although we had the full use of our cabins for the day, the crew requested that they be allowed to strip our beds ready to parcel up the dirty linen and offload it on shore when we passengers left the Milford Wanderer at Oban for the ferry to Bluff.


After breakfast, Gadget, a pest control dog who works with DOC to detect any rats or mice that are present, visited us. This formality was a precursor for our trip to Ulva Island. The sanctuary is mouse and rat free and obviously a lot of effort goes in to maintaining that status.


Gadget was a delightful little Jack-Russell/Fox terrier cross. They put her through her paces, searching for a prepared bait of sawdust from a mouse’s cage.


Gadget could not discover any rats present on our ship, so we were free to go ashore. We wandered the tracks of the island for the best part of three hours. As the tracks were beautifully well prepared and maintained, it was easy walking. We saw saddlebacks, kaka, kereru, fantail, robins, tom-tits and weka. Infuriatingly, all too often they flew off just as soon as I had the camera focussed on them, so I wasn’t able to get the shots I wanted. Still, they were lovely to see in actual life.


Rather worryingly, we found the body of a recently deceased cat along the shoreline during our walk. It brought into sharp focus the need to be ever vigilant in protecting these sanctuaries. I couldn't imagine how the cat had reached the island.


We returned to the boat for lunch, and then it was all over. We sailed to Oban, said goodbye to the crew, and boarded the ferry to Bluff. Magically, the sea was as smooth as silk—nothing rough about Foveaux Strait today. When we arrived in Bluff, we discovered it was VERY much colder there than it had been on Stewart Island.


Tomorrow we are being picked up at 5am, to get to the airport for our first flight to Christchurch. We’ve a 3 hour wait there, so we can catch breakfast before our flight to Wellington.


It was a magnificent holiday.