What our clients say...
Below are emails, letters and comments we have received from people that have participated in our guided walk on Ulva Island.
"At 9:30 am on 14 April we met Ulva at the water taxi for the start of what was to be our New Zealand birding highlight. No sooner had we walked from the jetty on Ulva Island when it all started to happen. With Ulva's sharp eyes and incredible hearing she was quickly pointing out Saddleback, Robin, Rifleman, Tui and others. We had great looks and this was just the start. Ulva's knowledge of the local plants was incredible. As the day progressed we had very rewarding sightings, ticking off all the endemic passerines (Yellowhead, Brown Creeper, Grey Warbler, Grey Fantail, Tomtit, Silvereye & Bellbird) on Ulva Island plus NZ Pigeon, Kaka and both Red & Yellow-crowned Parakeets. An inquisitive Weka seemed to like Shirley's jeans as it spent some time tugging on them. It was a great day in a great place with great company. For any birder visiting Stewart Island a guided tour to Ulva Island with Ulva is a must.
Bill & Shirley Ramsay, Melbourne
12th October - a moment in time.......
Fantastic experience. From start to finish. saw so much birdlife - amazing. The HUGE highlight was a family of kiwi. Mum, Dad and baby (the Croxon family kiwis) - baby came right to our feet, a very incredible feeling! (Shirley was crying....and trying desperately not to sniff) Ulva is a fantastic source of knowledge and truly the best guide we've ever encountered. So much fun and shared excitement - she truly loves her vocation!! Thank you SO much Ulva, we will be back!!
Bob & Shirl Croxon, NZ
We saw that kiwi family twice: 11.25am and 11.38am. So we could possibly say that we saw six kiwi that morning......
Dear Ulva - we really enjoyed our guided walk at Ulva Island, it was one of the highlights of our trip to Stewart Islands. Thank you for such a generous gift. Your passion for birds and nature is contagious!
Love, Waldir and Fernanda. Argentina but currently locum in Lumsden, Southland. NZ.
This was the best afternoon we have spent since being in NZ! an amazing magical time! The only downside is the afternoon was too short!!! Outstanding!!!!!
Todd family, Winnipeg, Canada
Ulva's Guided tours were awesome. Definite recommendation. Thanks Ulva. Zac.
Zac - the 11 year old who cycled round the South Island (850km). This young boy did the most fantastic feat to raise money for Sirocco and all the endangered kakapo on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island. He was an absolute trooper - we did not know of his achievements when his parents brought him to Ulva Island bird sanctuary after his marathon ride. He didn't tell us. It was only after our return that his parents told us of his brilliant efforts; he received clothing from Stewart Island Watertaxis and full royal treatment from Stewart Island Department of Conservation. Our environment and conservation in New Zealand is in safe hands when he have young men like this.....
A truly wonderful experience. Thank you so much. One of the highlights of our NZ trip and hope our travels next year can produce something comparable. You are a wonderful ambassador for New Zealand but especially for Stewart and Ulva Island. A passionate advocate for the rare and endangered flora and birds........
Mick and Lyn, UK.
We couldn't have wished for a better guide! With your warmth, enthusiasm and your welcoming, embracing nature, even the most non-bird person couldn't help but catch the contagion of your love for the birds and Ulva Island! We are so grateful that Ian and Phillippa (Stewart Island Watertaxis) recommended your tour.....
J & R Harvey, Ontario.
"...I have never had an experience like Ulva Island; consequently it's a hard one to categorise. It was, though, a life highlight - an day of beauty and gentle learning. And Ulva was a bird spotting joy with her hat, her stick and HER island...."
Marcus Lush, Radio and Documentary Television Presenter.
"Well Ulva, we are home now. Just in case you don't remember us, we were the ones that choked on air when the kiwi crossed our pathway. I tried desperately not to cough loudly, truly... We need to tell you that your guided walk was the best part of our time in NZ. We are can't stop telling everyone about it and saying that it was like walking through a NZ scenery book and NZ bird book all at the same time! An unforgettable experience - your impressive knowledge and gracious manner to everyone was commented upon later by everybody in our team. We will make sure to see you at the British Bird Fair in August next year and catch up with you again."
William & Robyn, Cheltenham, UK.
"Our deepest gratitude goes to you for our personal tour (I know we had a small group but it felt really personal) of your island. Obviously without the drive from people such as yourself and DoC the originality of our flora and fauna would die out very rapidly. Honestly, Brian's mouth has not closed from awe of the environment, apart from the downing the odd pint of that well known brown liquid and to vociferously crow about the wonderful scenery and friendliness of yourself and your ability to be able to see and find birds before we possibly could."
Peter & Brian, Upper Hutt, NZ
"..I just wanted to say that your guided walk around Ulva Island was the highlight of our NZ tour. We have always used guides in our many travels around the world and I have to let you know that, in comparison to other guided trips, your walk has surpassed anything we have experienced before. You have an outstanding ability to pass on humour, history and education in such a way that we have not been able to go for another walk without noticing everything you have shown us to look for. The best thing you have done for us is to make us realise our beautiful environment and pass this on to others. Thank you, and we are sending everyone we know to your Island - but not all at once!"
S & J Winterworth, Toronto, Canada
Letter to the editor, SMH Travel magazine, Australia:
"We recently spent a spellbinding trip 19 days touring the South Island of New Zealand. ...The highlight of the whole trip was going to Stewart Island, at the bottom of the South Island where we completed a three hour guided walk of the Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary.
Ulva Goodwillie, a Maori woman named after the island, is a guide and provided great insight and explanations. As the island has been cleared of all feral animals we saw many rare and endangered species..the birdslife amazingly varied."
F. Kirby, Castle Hill
"We’ve just arrived back home and wanted to thank you again for the Ulva Island tour we took with you. Your knowledge and passion won us over and we have become ‘born again birders’. Without your ability to notice the smallest orchids to the penguins at the beach – we wouldn’t have seen all the hidden gems. We have to say that your commitment to ensuring everyone saw as much as possible made your walk the highlight of our five week trip through NZ. It sure has provided us a lot of great memories now we are back in our winter."
T & S Horrocks, UK
"You probably won’t remember us, but then again you might with your impressive memory! We were with you on one of your guided tours of Ulva Island earlier this month. I must say it was amongst the most magic time that we had in NZ. Time and things we do together as a couple are precious now, so when there is a magic majestic place like Ulva Island revealed to us by someone with knowledge and passion that you have for the place, it is just perfect."
Glynn & David, Australia
"There are some days which are so memorable that you will remember every single moment, every sound. Thank you for giving me one of these days."
Mark W., Italy
"Kia Ora Ulva,
We are preparing to celebrate Christmas with our family and I want to take a minute to wish you a happy holiday season. We also want to thank you again for a delightful experience with you on Ulva Island. Seeing the unique birds and learning about the ferns and orchids was a true highlight of our time in NZ. The following day, we went hiking along the coast from Lee Bay to Maori Beach and had wonderful encounters with Red-Crowned Parakeets and Kaka, as well as acrobatic Tuis. It's a shock to be back into winter after reveling in the springtime in NZ, especially the long hours of daylight! But all is well and we'll carry fond memories of you and Ulva Island for many years. Best wishes for a wonderful new year!"
Claudia and Steve, UK
"Do you remember me? I’m the one who wanted to take your tour twice! Thank you again for a wonderful tour – its hard to describe to others the colours of the birdlife and forest. I’m sending everyone to you….."
Marilyn B., N Carolina, USA
"What a privilege it was to be with you on that morning walk. Wow! Your knowledge and ability to pass that on easily was just right. Are you sure you’re not a teacher? I can assure you that I have not been able to take a forest walk or a walk anywhere without noticing things now. Thank you sincerely for ensuring our group bonded well – we all went out for tea together that evening. We had an Ulva’s Guided Walk quiz the whole evening. Great fun!"
Ann M., Wellington, NZ
"Thanks for the wonderful walk around Ulva Island the other week – definitely the highlight of my time in New Zealand. We were in the group that looked up from the log of lichens and mosses to see the kiwi looking at us!! Still struggling to believe what we saw, we are planning to come back, just to make sure.."
Bill & June, Minnesota
"Thank you very much for your kind guide at my Kakapo Visit. I came back to Japan last Saturday. I apologize for not sending mail sooner. It was a great experience for me to meet Kakapo. Sirocco is very very beautiful and lovely bird. He sometimes came to close to me so I could see his face whisker and beautiful green feathers. I can't express in my poor English how moved I was at that time. I took lot of photos but unfortunately most were out of focus.
Thanks again and I hope to visit you and Ulva Island and Stewart Island the near future."
Toshifumi Tsuboi, Japan
"I wanted to thank you for the tour last week -- it was one of the highlights of my trip. The rest of my way back north I saw several birds you had taught me to identify -- including wood pigeons and weka. I did enjoy watching a wood pigeon inching out on thin tree branches to eat some berries I think -- and dealing with the fragile balance of such a large body on the thin branches. Your assistance in planning my trip, and your singular oneness with the ecosystem on Ulva Island helped make my trip worthwhile. I wish you all the best..."
Nora (Sept 26 tour)
Feedback from a Tourism agent famil tour of Ulva Island with Ulva's Guided Walks:
Upon their return home our group assessed operators and Southland, on its suitability to their clients and travel requirements. I thought you may be interested to get their feedback:
Ulva was an excellent guide, very passionate and knowledgable. I would recommend an Ulva Island tour to all our clients that go down that way
Absolutely loved it…Ulva was very professional in her approach. Would be very suitable to a wide range of ages. Not to mention her ability to specialise in a particular bird or plant. This makes her product very desirable to all markets.
However she didn’t manage to find our group a KIWI so had to take marks off there….
Great guide who was most informative without being too pushy. Would recommend for freedom independent travellers.
Fantastic trip. Ulva’s incredible knowledge and passion show through and had converted a number of us by the trips end from being somewhat ho hum to rating the trip a 10!!
Wonderful – was it a coincidence that it was Ulva from Ulva? I forgot to ask her but gives you the information clients will need.
Great experience, Ulva is so knowledgeable and sets the pace according to the group.
Many, many thanks for the awesome trip. It was quite amazing to see the increase in the bird life sice my last visit some 4 + years ago. It’s a real credit to you and the dedicated team that you are a part of. I really enjoyed my trip with you and will be de briefing the team here over the next few days.
Matt B. NY
"Dear Ulva, my husband and I did the Ulva Island Walk with you on 21 Nov. You may recall that we enjoyed it so much, we went back the next day. We also were lucky enough to see a kiwi! My best pictures for the whole world trip are from Stewart Island and Ulva Island. I have included a picture of a saddleback that I took there. The main purpose of my letter is to thank you for the wonderful experience we had with you. Your enthusiasm and knowledge were very exciting for us. We also learned that the best experiences from our entire holiday were those like your walk, in which we had a chance to interact with "real" Kiwis (the human ones). I have some friends who have asked me to recommend activities in NZ, and your walk will definitely be one of them."
Mary & Gael: Mexico City
Back before Christmas we joined one of your wonderful guided walks, and wanted to thank you for preparing us for 3 weeks in your stunning country we will never forget. You gave us such an invaluable grounding of the bird-life and flora we were to enjoy throughout the trip, really enhancing our enjoyment and our accumulation of knowledge. I've got the Lancewood sussed, and we've made very good headway into birdsong identification! We've only been back home a few days, but are already missing the dulcet tones of the Tui, and the Bellbird! We had so many marvellous 'nature moments' during our visit; a just fledged Cuckoo being fed by it's 'mother' - a Grey Warbler - was fascinating and, at the other extreme, a Black Backed Gull eating a Blue Penguin for lunch brought the natural world into a healthy perspective!!"
Bill & Robyn, UK
"Louise and I had a wonderful time on Ulva and we will spend considerable time trying to persuade prospective NZ visitors to get down to Stewart Is and see the real NZ, well the real NZ as it once maybe was. The weather may have been a bit crappy but that really didn't matter. The podocarp forest was incredulous and the birds fantastic. Maybe next time we visit you'll have some Black Robin or find a Kakapo!"
Des & Louise, UK
"Thank you for such a wonderful day, a very very special time I felt. I have promised myself I will be back and soon! Your professionalism, knowledge, and lovely warm friendly manner was much appreciated."
Graham & Susan, USA
"I had a fantastic time on Stewart Island, and will highly recommend the visit to all of my future clients. Also once again I would like to thank you again for guiding us around the island, as it was a truly magical experience and I hope to be back soon."
Ben K: France
This lovely song was sent after a hilarious morning walk on Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary discussing the growth of plants towards the sun and whether they follow the light, clockwise or anti-clockwise....
The fragrant Honeysuckle spirals clockwise to the sun
And many other creepers do the same
But some climb anti-clockwise; the Bindweed does, for one
Or Convolvulus, to give her proper name.
Rooted on either side a door one of each species grew
And raced towards the window-ledge above;
Each corkscrewed to the lintel in the only way it knew,
Where they stopped, touched tendrils, smiled, and fell in love.
Said the right-handed Honeysuckle
To the left-handed Bindweed:
'Oh, let us get married
If our parents don't mind; we'ld
Be loving and inseparable,
Inextricably entwined; we'ld
Live happily ever after,'
Said the Honeysuckle to the Bindweed.
To the Honeysuckle's parents it came as a shock
The Bindweeds', they cried, 'are inferior stock
They're uncultivated, of breeding bereft-
We twine to the right—and they twine to the left!'
Said the anti-clockwise Bindweed
To the clockwise Honeysuckle:
'We'd better start saving,
Many a mickle maks a muckle,
Then run away for a honeymoon
And hope that our luck'll
Take a turn for the better'
Said the Bindweed to the Honeysuckle.
A Bee who was passing remarked to them then-
I’ve said it before, and I'll say it again-
Consider your off-shoots, if off-shoots there be
They'll never receive any blessing from me!'
'Poor little sucker, how will it leam
When it is climbing, which way to turn?
Right—left—what a disgrace!
Or it may go straight up and fall flat on its face''
Said the right-hand thread Honeysuckle
To the left-hand thread Bind-
weed: 'It seems that against us
All fate has combined . . .
Oh my darling, oh my darling
Oh my darling Columbine,
Thou art lost and gone for ever,
We shall never intertwine.'
Together they found them the very next day.
They had pulled up their roots and just shrivelled away,
Deprived of that freedom for which we must fight--
To veer to the left or to veer to the right!