Discover Stewart Island from the water on a leisurely cruise of beautiful Paterson Inlet and a guided walk in Ulva Island Wildlife Sanctuary
The cruise will showcase some of Paterson Inlet’s stunning scenery with its hidden coves and unspoilt beaches. You’ll hear fascinating stories of early Maori history and European settlement from your guide as we pass various landmarks. Your guide is passionate about this area, provides informative commentary and is more than happy to answer questions. While on board, keep a look out for fur seals and penguins – we see a lot of them around this area.
Paterson Inlet is home to renowned wildlife sanctuary Ulva Island and we’ll stop there for a 45 minute guided walk. The island is home to weka (native woodhen), bush robins, rare saddlebacks and yellowheads amongst other species. It is also a protected habitat for some of New Zealand’s rarest plant species. A regular highlight is to encounter an inquisitive weka on the beach.
For the remainder of the cruise around Paterson Inlet, relax on board our modern catamaran and enjoy the coastal scenery before heading back to base.
Stewart Island Ferry Terminal, Stewart Island
Please note: If you require a vegetarian lunch, or have any special dietary needs, please add this into the comments box during the booking process. You can order any of the lunch options when you make your booking. Menus are indicative only.
Non-slip shoes/boots, waterproof jacket, warm sweater/fleece jacket, sunscreen/ sunglasses, insect repellent and camera.
Since the epic swim of John van Leeuwen in 1963 only four others have officially swum Foveaux Strait.
The record holder is Southlander Todd Utteridge, who completed the swim in 8 hours 40 minutes in 1989.
30 March 2019
A great tour with an informative skipper and an exceptionally good and well-informed guide on the island.
We learned about the natural features and interesting history of Stewart Island and Paterson Inlet. On Ulva Island the wonderful guide showed us otherwise hidden flora and fauna and explained the fascinating story of the island's recovery from predation and misuse to be now a small piece of natural paradise.
5 November 2017
Looks like this is the trip mum and I did today. For $95 it was excellent value. A bit of history, two free cups of tea/coffee, stopping to watch albatross fly near the boat, various little bays and (often old) buildings, and Ulva Island. Luckily the weather held out, I imagine Ulva Island wouldn't be so good in the wet unless you've got good raincoats & rainhats. One by one we came across a lot of different birds, led by our guide (Erin?). I'd never seen Yellowheads before. I missed the Stewart Island Robin the first time around (others saw it) but right near the end myself and another got a fantastic view of one. Though not fast enough to get a picture.
2 April 2017
With only a short time to explore, we booked this cruise. We were warmly greeted, and the boat was very clean and tidy-including separate Ladies and Men's toilets! We preordered a lunch and the portions were generous, and food was fresh. The crew were professionally attired and knowledgeable of the land and sea. Shortly after leaving the wharf we encountered a group of dolphins including a mother and calf. Next a large group of albatrosses arrived in the waters, and they were exciting to watch. Penguins greeted us as well. The inlet tour was gorgeous and the guide shared its history as we cruised. We disembarked at Ulva Island and we're split into small groups, each with a guide. The guide facilitated numerous bird viewings-Stewart Island robins, mohua, saddlebacks, spoonbills, kaka, kakariki, and weka. She also shared interesting facts about the flora.
Great value for price and time budgets! Would highly recommend!
Visited April 2017
28 February 2017
A nice cruise combined with an informative guide made this trip interesting and useful. They use a catamaran which tours the Inlet before stopping at Ulva Island for a 45 minute nature walk. Guide was excited about the fauna and knew a lot about the nuances of trying to keep an Island pest free for native species. Very enjoyable trip.
Visited February 2017
30 October 2016
Thoroughly enjoyed this 2.5 hr cruise including walk on Ulva Island. If you have limited time on Stewart Island, this trip is a great introduction to bird, plants and trees. Ulva Island is absolutely beautiful, guide Leah was very knowledgeable & informative. We saw many bird species as well as learning about the plant life, trees, orchid spotting and a short beach walk. I would love to return for more hours walking on Ulva Island as this brief trip whets the appetite for more. The crew were good, boat comfortable; this is an excellent short trip.
Visited October 2016
21 April 2016
I really enjoyed the Paterson Inlet cruise. The staff were really knowledgeable and friendly. I learnt lots from it and got to see lots of cool birds. On Ulva island there were Robins that would jump around your feet because it's pest free so they have nothing to be afraid of. I would definitely recommend doing this cruise and it is great for families too.
Visited April 2016
20 April 2016
Rain rain rain but that certainly didn't stop us from enjoying our afternoon out on this tour of Paterson Inlet. The crew were great, the boat comfy and the nature around us amazing. Fran was the albatross whisperer for the day and we had plenty of mollymawks surround the boat.
The walk on Ulva Island was wet but great. A little Stewart Island robin hopped around our feet so close you could almost touch it. Lots of gorgeous birdsong and interesting native forest facts from our guide Josephine.
Highly recommend doing this tour.
Visited April 2016
19 March 2016
Leah, our guide on Ulva Island who was a convincing ornithologist and conservationist was an exceptional guide on this trip, the Albatross accompanying the catamaran for a feed, it was all wonderful stuff, than you so much.
Visited March 2016
5 February 2016
We went on the Paterson Inlet Cruise and had the same two guides from the Ferry trip over to the Island. What a pleasure to have two gentleman with a sense of humour and loads of knowledge about the Island and its inhabitants. Our guide Leah on the guided walk was just outstanding, her knowledge was incredible. we saw Robins, rifleman, a morepork, and another bird with a bright yellow head that is on the $100 note!! (can't remember the name...) All in all what a fabulous afternoon topped off by Spirit of New Zealand moored in the inlet , spectacular photo opportunity.
Visited January 2016
20 January 2016
This tour is well worth booking as you get a boat trip to the island and a one hour walk with a guide through the forest. Our guide Bevan made it a good experience for us as he enthusiastically talked about the vegetation and spotted the birds for us.
Visited January 2016
9 January 2016
We had an amazing trip to Ulva Island. Our guide, Kylie was amazing. She knew everything there was to know and showed a real passion for the environment on Ulva Island. Would highly recommend to everyone.
Visited January 2016
29 December 2015
We went to Stewart Island by the ferry for the day and included the Paterson Inlet cruise in our package. The cruise was enjoyable but cruise but the highlight of the trip and worth a five-star rating was the hour or guided tour on Ulva Island. Our guides were very informative pointing out plant species such as orchids and birds. I got close up images of SI Robin, the endangered and rare Yellowhead. If you’re into wildlife rather than history of Stewart Island, then just take a tour that only goes to Ulva Island.
Visited November 2015
12 March 2015
...Stewart Island was wonderful and then to add this cruise and visit to Ulva Island and guided tour made it special. As a novice with flora and fauna and bird life it was great to now be able to recognise Saddlebacks Bell Birds and the cocky NZ robins it was all over far to quick.
The guide was good and answered every question along with the need to keep developing the redress from non-native visitors such as the introduced and feral animals and humans that have exploited this environment...
Visited February 2015
1 January 2015
We didn't really know what to expect when we booked the tour in the visitor centre on Stewart Island, but as everyone we met so far recommended Ulva Island we couldn't really do anything wrong. We were surprised in a positive way by the trip around the tip of Stewart Island and the things we were told about some special places...
Visited December 2014
In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.
For visitors travelling on the Stewart Island Ferry Service, you are required to check in 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time (to allow for luggage loading, etc). The check in and boarding gates are closed 10 minutes prior to scheduled ferry departure. For all our cruises and tours, check in is required 20 minutes prior to the schedule departure.
The bird life on Ulva Island and Stewart Island is of exceptional interest, not only because of the presence of high profile species such as weka, wood pigeon, Stewart Island Robin and kaka, but also because Stewart Island and its small outliers provide a refuge for a range of less well-known birds, among them the NZ dotterel, South Island saddleback, Rifleman, Oystercatcher and the red and yellow-crowned parakeet.
There are a huge range of activities available on Stewart Island, from kayaking, fishing trips, golf, walking tracks and more. To find out more information and to make bookings, we operate the Oban Visitor Centre. The Department of Conservation (DoC) also operates a Visitor Information Centre and can provide more information on walking tracks and activities.
Yes, there are many activities you can fit into one day on Stewart Island. Ask our reservations team for suggested itineraries.
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
Our staff are trained to deal with incidents and in case of an emergency you should listen to their instructions.
We have a portable defibrillator on each of our overnight cruise vessels (Milford Mariner, Milford Wanderer and Fiordland Navigator).
In addition to this we also have portable defibrillators at the following locations:
• Milford Sound Visitor Terminal
• Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Manapouri
• Cavern House (Te Anau Glowworm Caves)
• Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, Walter Peak
• TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship
• Stewart Island Ferry (Bluff - Oban - Bluff).