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August 2023 - It's been 18 months since rats reinvaded Ulva Island.  In May 2022 the Department of Conservation (DOC) realised that its incursion response had failed and announced that rodents had spread to other parts of Ulva Island.  Early in August 2023 DOC completed a full scale aerial drop of bait containing rat poison (brodifacoum), the first of two poison drops at Ulva Island.  Stewart Island is around 800 metres away from Ulva Island and rats can swim or be carried unwittingly by boats.  There have been a number of rat incursions since 1997 and most have been swiftly and successfully thwarted, but disappointingly not this time.  The last time an aerial poison drop occurred was in August 2011 in response to a December 2010 rat incursion when a breeding population was established at Ulva Island.  Ulva Island is known for its natural primeval beauty and we look forward to its predator-free status being restored.

The Ulva Island Charitable Trust funds an annual bird survey to determine how the population of Ulva Island birds is faring.  We intend to proceed with this year’s survey in September.

New Zealand Sealions are becoming regular visitors to Ulva Island, and even a couple of pups were born at Ulva Island this year.  Please keep at least 20 metres distance from them, especially when they have young.

It’s taken an incredible 10 years but we are pleased to announce new toilet facilities at Ulva Island’s West End beach!  Also, new hand rails have been installed at some of the steeper stepped areas of Ulva Island.  

August 2022 - Former Chairman and one of the original trustees of the Ulva Island Charitable Trust, Peter Goomes died after a battle with cancer.  Peter’s family connection to Stewart Island Rakiura goes back many generations and his carpentry and handyman skills are woven into many island projects; the donation box, weta hotels, and commemorative seat at Ulva Island among them.  Peter could always be found tinkering on something in his workshop.  He will be sorely missed - rest in peace dear Peter.

February 2022 - A rat was detected at Ulva Island which prompted an incursion response from the Department of Conservation.  Rats have reinvaded Ulva Island a number of times since 1997 and most incursions have been successfully thwarted.  See August 2023 for an update.

November 2020 - to commemorate the Ulva Island Charitable Trust's 20 year anniversary we commissioned a new bench for Ulva Island.  Visitors can sit and rest awhile on this beautifully crafted bench which was designed and created by original Trustee, Peter Goomes.  Three of the Trustees (Peter, Matt and Ann, shown right) installed the bench beside one of Ulva Island's walking trails.  It offers the perfect spot to sit and take in the ancient forest and birdsong.  Our thanks to the Hunter family for giving permission to use their land, and Rakiura Charters & Water Taxi for transporting the bench and Trustees between Stewart Island and Ulva Island.

October 2020 - the wonderful tamariki (children) of Stewart Island's Halfmoon Bay School have made a movie called “Tiakina Te Wharawhara” - a guide to protecting Ulva Island.  Students worked with Paws4Conservation - Sandy King, a Stewart Island-based Conservation dog handler/trainer, and Gadget her cheeky rodent detection dog.  The movie was launched with all the glamour and glitz of a Hollywood blockbuster at Stewart Island's Community Centre, along with the full red carpet treatment and papparazzi!  The Ulva Island Charitable Trust supports Gadget and Paws4Conservation to help keep Ulva Island predator-free and we are immensely proud of our school kids as future ambassadors for conservation.

August 2020 - the Ulva Island Charitable Trust launches updated website!


March to June 2020 - Ulva Island was closed to visitors while New Zealand's was at alert level 4, 3 and 2 as the world fought to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  At alert level 1 when the Department of Conservation were permitted to visit Ulva Island for the first time in months, we are pleased to report that there were no rat incursions during this time.  Ulva Island is open to (human!) visitors once again.

August 2018 - we've updated our logo!  A fresh new look for the Kakariki that has been our logo for almost 20 years.

June 2017 - on 3rd June the Ulva Island Charitable Trust had great pleasure in welcoming Australian Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, and his wife Lady Cosgrove to Ulva Island.  Their State visit to New Zealand included visits to Wellington, Christchurch, Kaikoura as well as Stewart Island and Ulva Island.  Sir Peter was particularly interested to learn about the kiwi population on Ulva Island and Stewart Island and the conservation efforts of the Ulva Island Charitable Trust and presented us with a commemorative medal.

Commemorative medal presented to Ulva Island Charitable Trust by Australian Governor-General

Left to right: Peter Goomes (Trustee UICT), Lady Cosgrove, Sir Peter Cosgrove, Matt Jones (Chairman UICT), Ann Pullen (Secretary UICT), Megan Cowley (Trustee UICT).

Ulva Island Charitable Trust logo
Ulva Island Charitable Trust original logo
Australian Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove & Lady Cosgrove at Ulva Island with the Ulva Island Charitable Trust members, June 2017
Weta hotel at Ulva Island
Weta inside weta hotel at Ulva Island

May 2016 - Bill Oddie O.B.E., author, actor, comedian, artist, naturalist, musician and one of Britain's leading public activists for conservation visited Stewart Island in May 2016, entertaining us with his life story of birding experiences.  Ulva Island Charitable Trust Chairman, Matt Jones, who is also a local birdwatching guide had the pleasure of escorting Bill around Ulva Island for a few hours.

May 2015 - Stewart Island was fortunate to be included in His Royal Highness Prince Harry's first official visit to New Zealand.  The Ulva Island Charitable Trust had the pleasure of meeting the Prince on Ulva Island for a relaxed chat about conservation, Ulva Island and its birdlife, and the work the Trust does.

Left to right: Kari Beaven, Ann Pullen (Secretary), Prince Harry, Matt Jones (Chairman), Megan Cowley, Graham Cowley (Treasurer) and unfortunately absent from the photograph, Peter Goomes.

Bill Oddie and Matt Jones at Ulva Island
HRH Prince Harry with members of Ulva Island Charitable Trust at Ulva Island

June 2017 - two new hotels opened on Ulva Island on 1st June - but members of the public won't be able to stay in them.  However, they can watch the occupants through a cleverly designed perspex wall allowing a sneak peek into the life of a Weta.  These cricket-like insects are endemic to New Zealand and the Ulva Island Charitable Trust has provided these 'hotels' to enhance the weta population on Ulva Island.

June 2016 - During National Volunteer Week the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry visited Ulva Island and met Ulva Island Charitable Trust Chairman, Matt Jones.

April 2015 - New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key and local MP Sarah Dowie visited Stewart Island and Ulva Island.  Joining them on Ulva Island were members of the  Department of Conservation's Stewart Island/Rakiura office along with Ann Pullen (Ulva Island Charitable Trust Secretary) pictured far right.

Photo: courtesy of the office of Sarah Dowie, MP.  Read the StuffNZ news article.

John Key (the then New Zealand Prime Minister) and Sarah Dowie MP with DOC and Ulva Island Charitable Trust

May 2014 - the Ulva Island Charitable Trust is proud to announce their support of 'Gadget', a Stewart Island-based rodent detector dog.  Gadget is a member of the New Zealand Conservation Dogs Programme and has undertaken some of her training on Ulva Island to be a predator detection dog.

She is trained to indicate the presence of rodents (her target species) without catching or harming them.  The Ulva Island Charitable Trust is delighted to fund some of Gadget's costs to help keep Ulva Island predator-free. 


See what Paws4Conservation and Gadget are up to!

Gadget (rodent detector dog) with her handler at Ulva Island
Gadget (rodent detector dog) at work at Ulva Island
original Ulva Island self-guide booklet
Ulva Island self-guide booklet

March 2014 - updated version of the Ulva Island self-guide booklet published.  It contains fabulous new photographs, a new section about orchids as well as wealth of information about the birds and plants you may see during your visit to Ulva Island.  Funds raised from sales of this booklet go towards the further restoration and upkeep of Ulva Island.  See our projects page for where to get the booklet.

September 2012 - New Zealand's Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae and his wife, Lady Janine visited Rakiura Stewart Island on their first official visit to Southland.  Matt Jones (Chairman of the Ulva Island Charitable Trust) accompanied the Governor-General to Ulva Island with the Department of Conservation.  They spoke about the importance of community volunteers, without whom many Stewart Island and Ulva Island projects would not survive.

Left to right: Sr Jerry Mateparae, Lady Janine Mateparae, Matt Jones (UICT), Andy Roberts (DOC)

NZ Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae & Lady Janine visit Ulva Island, 2012

February 2010 - Ulva Island Charitable Trust goes online at

2009 - the Ulva Island Charitable Trust finances the upgrade of toilet facilities on Ulva Island.

2008 - the Ulva Island Charitable Trust funded printing of the "Ulva Island Avian Research Programme" booklet which investigates the role of inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity in island re-introduction programmes.  This was part of a long term study of Stewart Island Robins and South Island Saddlebacks on Ulva Island carried out by the University of Otago in collaboration with the Department of Conservation's Stewart Island office and the Ulva Island Charitable Trust.

Ulva Island Avian Research Programme booklet
Primeval Paradise DVD cover

July 2007 - Primeval Paradise DVD was launched at Stewart Island's Community Centre to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ulva Island's rat-free status.  The Ulva Island Charitable Trust in conjunction with the Natural History Unit of New Zealand and Elwin Productions produced this spectacular high definition DVD about Ulva Island bird life.  Filmed by Scott Mouat and distributed by Elwin Productions, this riveting 60-minute film gets up close to birds and plants in their natural environment.

In 2024 the DVD was discontinued and is no longer available for purchase.

Sirocco the Kakapo, at Kakapo Encounter 2006

September 2006 - Kakapo Encounter gives Stewart Islanders the chance to see a kakapo on Ulva Island.  Many organisations and individuals were involved in creating and hosting the "Kakapo Encounter" and the Ulva Island Charitable Trust was, and continues to be, very grateful for the support it received.  Successive years saw the popularity of the "Kakapo Encounter" grow, with the final event in 2009 being the most successful.  Sirocco proved a popular ambassador for the Kakapo Recovery Programme, boasting visitors not just from Southland and New Zealand, but all over the world coming to see this most endearing, flightless, nocturnal parrot.

Read the "Encounters with Kakapo" news article from the Otago Daily Times.

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