The day began with fine weather and a spectacular outdoor breakfast before short Zodiac cruises to the beach at Ulva Island. The landing site is the original location of the island’s post office, and we began a variety of walks around the island to explore the forest and birds.

Ulva Island was protected from milling in the late 1800s and is now home to an incredible, mature temperate forest and healthy birdlife. Guests enjoyed incredible sightings of piwakawakas (fantails), Stewart Island robins, korimakos (bellbirds), kākās (bush parrots), and even a rare sighting of a kākāriki (native parakeet) on the beach of Ulva.

After wandering the trails in the morning, we relocated the ship amid a brief and violent squad to Half Moon Bay, where the one and only settlement of Stewart Island lies. Guests explored the town’s shops and historical museum. The museum gave context to the incredible history of this small fishing village with its Māori foraging, colonial milling, and whaling heritage. After a surprisingly clear afternoon, National Geographic Orion set sail again for the biggest of New Zealand’s islands and the city of Dunedin.