Even though this was another day in port it was a quieter day than we had had for a week. The ship was anchored in Half Moon Bay off the coast of Stewart Island, the southernmost inhabited island of the New Zealand archipelago. The largest town is Oban with a population of about 400. We were told that the town consists of two churches, one pub, and one grocery store. We didn’t go to Oban. We, instead, took the tender to Ulva Island and had a 1 1/2 hour guided walk through the forest of Rakiura National Park. The park is home to many species of birds, including some endangered ones. When Europeans arrived on the islands dogs, cats, and rats arrived with them and decimated the local bird populations. For the past 100 years or so New Zealand conservation has been eradicating all rats and other critters from small isolated islands and re-introducing kiwis and others species of endangerd and rare native birds – with great success. 70% of Ulva Island was set aside as a nature preserve in 1899.
The weather was rain-threatening all day but we had very little rain. The clouds were low and thick so everything was dark and dismal-looking. We enjoyed our walk. It was a nice change of pace from our last few all-day excursions.
We did not see as many birds as we had hoped; they were probably hunkered down under a big leaf in case the rain started. We did see a weka, a New Zealand pigeon (no photo) and a New Zealand Robin. There are no predators on the island so the birds are quite calm around people.
During the time we were on Ulva Island the tide had gone out and the water level was 2′ lower so a guided jump into the tender was needed to get into the boat.
We could have taken another tender over to Oban since the ship was at anchor until 4 and we got back from Ulva Island at 2. We were enjoying the laid back pace of the day so decided to stay on board and work on photos and emails and do some reading.