Ulva Island

The Te Wharawhara marine reserve was established in 2004 and covers 1075 hectares of one of the largest sheltered harbours in Southern New Zealand, Patterson Inlet/Te Whaka a te Wera. This inlet is a shallow Ria, an ancient submerged river valley, surrounded on all sides by untouched native rainforest. The rivers that flow through this forest into the inlet are clean, and as a result the waters of the reserve nurture one of the most diverse and healthy ecosystems in New Zealand. We will swim through the beautiful and mysterious seaweed forests, between the Bladder Kelp towers extending up to 10 meters from the sea floor. It is common to be greeted by large and curious schools of Blue Moki, Trumpeter (Kohikohi), Greenbone (Marari) and Blue Cod (Rawaru).  When you look back you will realise that you are being followed by friendly Banded Wrasses (Tangahangaha) Spotty (Pakirikiri) grouping up to check you out. If you inspect under the kelp, and in between the rocks you may find Leather Jacket (Kokiri), Octopus (kōti) and plentiful numbers of Paua (Abalone) and Kina (Sea Urchin) you look carefully you may see. Occasionally lucky divers will receive a visit from an inquisitive New Zealand Sea Lion, that will investigate you for a moment, and then swim gracefully past.