Robin charms Prince Harry on Ulva Island

Department of Conservation —  14/05/2015

Prince Harry got close to some of New Zealand’s rarest birdlife on Ulva Island / Te Wharawhara, off Stewart Island / Rakiura, during his visit earlier this week. DOC’s Andrea Crawford was there…

Prince Harry photographing a robin/kakaruai on Ulva Island. Photo: Andrea Crawford | DOC.

Prince Harry photographing a robin/kakaruai on Ulva Island

With tramping boots on, Prince Harry spent Sunday afternoon on predator-free Ulva Island, encountering kākāriki/parakeetbrown 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 enjoys Ulva Island's pristine golden beaches with DOC manager Brent Beaven and ranger Kate Richardson. Photo: Andrea Crawford | DOC.

Prince Harry enjoys Ulva Island’s pristine golden beaches with DOC manager Brent Beaven and ranger Kate Richardson

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.

Prince Harry with Brent Beaven (far left) and Ulva Island Trustees. Photo: Andrea Crawford | DOC.

Prince Harry with Brent Beaven (far left) and Ulva Island Trustees

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 watches a rat trap demonstration by Ranger Phred Dobbins. Photo: Andrea Crawford | DOC.

A rat trap demonstration by DOC Ranger, Phred Dobbins

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.

Prince Harry talking with DOC Ranger Phred Dobbins. Photo: Andrea Crawford | DOC.

Prince Harry talking with DOC Ranger Phred Dobbins

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.

Brent Beaven and Prince Harry at Sydney Cove. Photo: Andrea Crawford | DOC.

Brent Beaven and Prince Harry at Sydney Cove


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.

8 responses to Robin charms Prince Harry on Ulva Island

  1. 

    Funny to see Rakiura Charters get into the act? Shame they got the publicity during the visit by parking their boat up along Sydney Cove and the Ulva Island jetty at the right time. Bet DoC didn’t include all the other operators. Nice one Brent – looking after your mates.

    • 

      Hi David. The Department of Internal Affairs did a fantastic job of organising the visit. I got to have a glimpse behind the scenes at how much work was involved and it was staggering. DIA did all of the bookings and chose to use Rakiura Charters to transport the Prince and his support. Rakiura Charters did a great job – good on them for also getting some incidental promotion…. it can only be good for the Island and for conservation. What a fantastically positive event this was. Brent

  2. 
    Andrea Crawford 20/05/2015 at 2:21 pm

    Yes it was an amazing experience and we’re hoping to show the Prince more of our stunning sights and wildlife if/when he returns.

  3. 

    I bet Prince Harry enjoyed his visit to Ulva Island, but I wonder if Phred Dobbins is aware of the fact that his first aid pouch shows the Swiss flag and not the Red Cross one!
    Greetings from Switzerland!

    • 
      Andrea Crawford 20/05/2015 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Sue,
      Thanks for your comment about the Prince Harry blog and I’ll pass that info re the flag onto Phred. He’s probably not aware!
      Regards,
      Andrea

  4. 
    Marion Bridge 14/05/2015 at 12:04 pm

    So glad NZ offered this kind of experience – not only more typical of our lifestyles but so much more interesting than grand civic ‘dos’. Must be a nice change for a royal!
    Loved my time on Stewart and Ulva islands and having a robin sit on toe of my boot half way to Mason Bay!

    • 
      Andrea Crawford 20/05/2015 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Marion,
      Yes, Prince Harry seemed to really enjoy his Ulva Island experience. We were hoping a robin would sit on his toe but at least he got close to one.
      Regards,
      Andrea

  5. 

    what an awesome experience for everyone – both Prince Harry and the people of Stewart Island and Ulva Island. Hard to tell who enjoyed it most. Such a lovely down to earth young man.