Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Ultimate Ulva

Bluff, Southland

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023


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Grunt Factor: 16 ?

Gnarl Factor: 23 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Back country - remote


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush



Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +6.9%

Average Downhill Gradient: -6.8%


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Estimated Times to Run







Ulva Island is the gem in Rakiura/Stewart Island's highly glittering crown. It is an amazing place and is the result of much hard work. A few hours spent exploring this Island will change you, and give you a taste of what all of NZ must have been like before the arrival of humans. Its basically a modern living ark.

Once you've organised your boat travel across from Oban and the Steward Island "mainland" head over and put aside as much of the day as you can to explore and experience Ulva. The trail network isn't overly long or taxing, but a perfect Wild Things day here would involve getting there, having a run around the loop described to start with and then doing it all again at a slower pace and soaking up the birds and atmosphere of amazing Ulva. An absolute must to for anyone visiting Stewart Island and would act as a great 'warm down" perhaps a day after running or tramping the Rakiura Trails.

Stunning birdlife - kiwis , weka, saddlebacks and many many more  Perhaps NZ's most significant sanctuary

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There are several water taxi options from Oban, 6-10 minutes on the boat, priced approx $20 ish depending on operator and time of year. Would also be easy to kayak over in most conditions

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Its all well marked and some of the side 'nature' trails are totally worth an explore


Lightweight fleece top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Windproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map

There are a few small creeks but you'd be advised to bring enough water from Oban

It's Stewart Island and as such expect constantly changing weather

Don't miss the boat!

South Seas Hotel
Oban, Stewart Island
Best place for a beer or two and a feed of Blue Cod

Trail Legend


Kylie Gilbert

has completed Ultimate Ulva once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Not a kiwi in sight. But some gorgeous bays to soak up the sun and spot some bird life

Lauren Mai Anderson

April 12, 2022

Did this trail as a recovery day walk after running the Rakiura Track. We took our time and enjoyed the peaceful sounds of the birds and wildlife. No luck on seeing a kiwi, but plenty of other birdlife and a sea lion nesting.

Chris Seymour

October 28, 2021

WOW! This place has so much bird life and the beaches are amazing. Take your time to stop and listen and look for the birds. Saw some saddlebacks which just blew me away. Heard kiwi but if we didn't have the kids, we may have actually seen them. This place is very special, can't wait to return.

Sharon Sharpe

January 30, 2020

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