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Ulva Island (Te Wharawhara)

The 1075 hectare marine reserve adjoining Ulva Island Open Sanctuary was established in 2004. The reserve protects all marine life within its boundaries, providing a safe haven and nursery for a wealth of underwater life, extending the protection of Stewart Island’s/Rakiura’s largely pristine environment from land to sea. Nothing found within the reserve can be removed or harmed.

Paterson Inlet/Te Whaka ā Te Wera is a shallow ria – an ancient river valley that has been submerged – and provides one of the largest sheltered harbours in southern New Zealand.

Because the rivers that flow into it drain from pristine, undeveloped land, they carry little sediment or nutrient run-off. As a result, inlet waters nurture a prolific range of plants and animals. The lack of sedimentation has created a unique situation where many species, including kina, sea cucumbers, starfish and brachiopods, are equally at home on both rocky and soft inlet floors.



Paterson Inlet is also an important habitat and nursery for at least 56 species of marine fish. The mixing of warm, subtropical and cool, subantarctic waters in the currents around Stewart Island/Rakiura has created and environment with similarities to both regions and added to the diversity of species found within the inlet.

Brachiopods or lamp shells are the most ancient of filter feeding shellfish. They were abundant in prehistoric oceans at the dawn of life 300 to 550 million years ago during the Palaeozoic period. Today their fossils are common but living examples are comparatively rare.

Paterson Inlet is home to brachiopod species that live both on rock and sediment, thriving at depths of less than 20 metres. This makes the inlet one of the richest and most accessible brachiopod habitats in the world. 

In 2008 Experiencing Marine Reserves conducted a pilot study on the island - snorkel briefing with a weka, you don't get that at every marine reserve!


Find out more on the DoC website, or visit the following link(s):

New Zealand summary and links on Ulva Island Marine Reserve.

Ulva Island Marine Reserve baseline monitoring report.
The reserve Order in Council.
News Article from the Beehive - "Ancient shellfish protected in new marine reserve."