With tramping boots on, Prince Harry spent Sunday afternoon on predator-free Ulva Island, encountering kākāriki/parakeet, brown creeper/pīpipi and rifleman/tītipounamu at close range—pointed out by DOC manager Brent Beaven and ranger Kate Richardson, as they escorted him through the island’s unspoilt rainforest and along its pristine golden beaches.
Scuffing leaf litter at the edge of the path, the prince was particularly taken with the Stewart Island robin / kakaruai that immediately hopped in beside his shoe.
Prince Harry showed genuine interest in the work to create and maintain this island sanctuary, asking DOC rangers, Ulva Island Trustees and the Hunter family—who own a portion of the island—about their roles in island conservation management.
As well as Brent and Kate, Prince Harry also met Stewart Island rangers Dale Chittenden, Cherie Hemsley, James Ware and Stephen Meads.
A rat trap demonstration by ranger Phred Dobbins prompted the prince to ask whether the trap caught feral cats. Phred explained that the DOC 200 traps were used on Ulva Island to catch any rats that might get to the island.
Feral cats are, however, controlled along the Tin Range and other subalpine areas of Stewart Island, where Southern New Zealand dotterel and other threatened species are at risk from predation.
Prince Harry also asked what bait was used (peanut butter-based bait) and when the island became pest-free (1997).
The prince was also interested in a typical day in the life of a DOC ranger and asked Phred how long he had worked as a ranger and what he did on Ulva Island.
Phred said the prince was open and personable and had a genuine interest in conservation.
“It was nice watching him use his phone to film a Stewart Island robin feeding at his feet.
“Talking with him, I got the sense he’s a really nice bloke as he must have to constantly engage with people yet is still interested in everyone he meets.
“He takes the time to give you his undivided attention which must take its toll after meeting hundreds and hundreds of people,” Phred said.
Visit iconic Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara for yourself. It’s one of the few pest-free open sanctuaries in New Zealand. In its unspoiled rainforest you can see rare birds and plants at close quarters in a safe environment mostly unchanged by human activity.