Monday, August 11, 2008

Preservation Inlet in Fiordland

My son Dougal and myself recently had an expedition holiday with friends Arthur and Barbara on board their yacht Elwing down in Fiordland National Park, one of the last of the great wilderness areas in the world in a temperate climate.

Rather than telling the tale chronologically I've created a few headings, which give a better idea of the flavour of this enchanting place.

Flying in and out

We started our trip in Tuatapere in rural Southland by staying in our camper truck at Clifden, where we awoke to this pretty sunrise...
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Arthur and Barbara sailed from Stewart Island and we flew into meet them on Kisbee Beach in Preservation Inlet - here is Dougal in the front seat of the Squirrel helicopter...
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It was a very long flight over one of the largest tracts of total wilderness in the country, and into a headwind with lots of turbulence. It was very interesting though e.g. Lake Hauroko is very large, "S" shaped and 40 Kms long, and the deepest lake in New Zealand, but it is hard to see it's extent from the road or tramping, so this view was fascinating...
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Kisbee beach where we boarded [and departed] Arthur and Barbara's yacht Elwing...
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The flight out was done via a landing at Coal Island [the latest pest eradication/conservation project in the area], in the midst of a cold front, accompanied by low cloud and heavy rain, and so we had to contour New Zealand's remote and wild southern coast line on the way out so the pilot had an horizon. The weather was much worse than this shot of same taken a few days earlier from Puysegur Point lighthouse...
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Elwing

Our home - 46 foot and 20 tons worth of beautiful ship Elwing [Tolkien: Lord of the Rings princess named after the spray of a waterfall glistening in the moonlight]...elwing2.jpg

A couple of inflatable boats are invaluable on expedition holidays, and here we're going back to Elwing on one of them, from the Oil Shed [so named as storage building for oil to keep the light house light going in the old days] near Puysegur Point. The gap in the reef ahead was blasted many years ago just for this reason, but it's still a tricky passage conditional on tides and swells...
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Arthur [Skipper] gives the helm instructions while choosing an anchorage for the night...
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Lunch, and cuppas are usually served often on this white cabin top in the foreground...
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A magical anchorage by Spit Island...
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Some of my best friends and son Dougal...
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With twin keels and therefore only needing as little as 1.5 meters of water, here we take advantage of the Elwing's design to get in close to take on fresh water...
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When we went in close to this bluff, just for the fun of it, we were to find it was twice the height of our mast. The scale of Fiordland seems typified by this shot, as it looked "pint size" from this vantage point...
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Last Cove - another magical anchorage...
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Dougal at the helm and Darrell looking on...
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At every anchorage Arthur spends some time making us secure and thus safe, because this a wild land that takes no prisoners. Here he is sorting out some old mooring lines installed by fisherman back in the busy cray fishing days...
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Relatively ancient history

Before this trip I simply had no idea of the legacy of this land, and that thousands of people lived in the town of Cromarty on the again pristine Kisbee beach, around the turn of the 20th century. Earlier you saw Kisbee beach shots, and I found this fascinating photo in a Hall-Jones book on the area...
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The same site in the present day...
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More contrast...
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There's an old rhododendron [on above site] covering a quarter acre. It must be amazing when in flower...
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An old gold mining sledge track high up in the misty hills behind and south of Kisbee/Cromarty, near the Morning Star mine [shaft] leading to and from the Alpha stamping battery further south...
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Bogs, water and difficulties abounded on any historic track or line that we followed...
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The Wilson tram line to Kisbee - it's 3-4 Kms was nice to encounter as previously we'd doing steady and wet bush bashing on an old historic route down from the Alpha battery...
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An old sawmill boiler where the Wilson tramline meets Kisbee beach...
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The 1920's [restored] cemetery by the Oil Shed near Puysegur Point, with the poignant grave of a baby on the left, ...
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Puysegur Point light house [now decommissioned]. In it's day three families lived on-site along with a few sheep, and chickens - the later reputedly were often blown away. I did see some fresh pig sign nearby, which surprised me...
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The Puysergur Point light house Oil Shed in Preservation 3-4 Kms from the light house...
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Cuttle Cove and One Tree Island, site of New Zealand's first whaling station. The island was used as a spotting base...
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Spit Island notable not only for it's beauty, but also for the unassailable Maori Pa that was sited on the island's flat top, which was the site of some interesting battles three hundred years ago - a very rich story that ties in with Capt. Cook meeting a Maori family on Indian Island in Dusky Sound in 1773...
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Caves used not only by Maori on Step-To Island, but later by early sealers, as homes and places to build canoes and boats. Maybe favoured because the prevailing winds would blow into their dry interiors, thus ensuring less harassment from sandflies...
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The Tarawera Smelter reclining chimney, abandoned in the early 20th century after attempts to refine not only gold on site but other minerals such as copper. An amazing example of the skill of brick layers...
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More recent history

Kisbee Lodge built in the seventies, and now a private sort of holiday home, with permanent caretakers, a surreal anomaly in this regenerated beach front landscape...
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In the later half of the 20th century over a hundred fishing boats plied this coast, now it's down to a doz. or so, and here is one of them just having uplifted all the cray pots [on the rear deck] for placement somewhere else...
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Wildlife

I was really hoping to see some calving Southern Right Whales, but was not so lucky. Also being winter the bird life was quiet, but I did see a few things...

Primal waterways...
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A surprising number of Paradise Ducks...
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Mollyhawk...
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Jock Stewart, apparently in ill health - we did try putting him in deep water, but he persisted in posing for this shot...
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Seals accompanied us - they seem to love just lolling about in the sea being cute and uncaring about us...
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Shags were everywhere, but due to isolation totally at ease with humans setting anchors and pottering as they fished under our noses...
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My friends on the voyage

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And lastly the best beach landscapes I've ever seen in New Zealand - a landscape photographer's art heaven

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I can't wait for my next Fiordland adventure - I'm falling love with the place! Thanks Arthur and Barbara for making it possible.




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2 Comments:

Blogger DANIEL said...

I'm so sorry to hear that you sisn't see Southern Right Whales and I really wish you did...

Have you seen any of them later on?

November 15, 2013 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Donald said...

Hi Daniel, no. Not been back. It's a very remote area

Cheers

Donald

November 15, 2013 at 3:20 PM  

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