The birdlife in Oban is pretty special, but it pales next to that on the 2km-long, low Ulva Island – an open wildlife sanctuary that’s been cleared of introduced predators through sustained local effort. On a series of easy walks to secluded beaches you’ll see more native birdlife than almost anywhere else in New Zealand. The place is full of birdsong, its dense temperate rainforest alive with endangered saddleback, bellbirds, kaka, yellow- and red-crowned parakeets, tui, fantails, pigeons and robins, who approach visitors with fearless curiosity.
Everyone lands at Post Office Bay, whose former post office, over 100 years old, is a remnant from the days when Ulva Island was the hub of the Paterson Inlet logging community. Armed with DOC’s Ulva Island: Te Wharawhara booklet ($2), you can find your own way along trails, though naturalist guidance on one of the tours means you’ll spot a lot more. There’s a pleasant picnic shelter beside the sand beach at Sydney Cove.