Weka Island Cove, Preservation Sound Fiordland, New Zealand March 11, 2021
It is hard to imagine that we are finishing up our time in Fiordland. There is always more to explore, but we definitely feel we could do another season down here. But, the year is getting on and we want to be in Dunedin by mid-April for another Suzuki Workshop so, it’s time to take the weather windows when they come.
From Dusky Sound we had a good window to head south. We decided to skip Chalky Sound as the all-weather anchorage was so far up the sound it was actually a shorter trip to keep going and turn into Preservation. There is also a lot to see in Preservation, which has been borne out by the fact that we wish we had a few more days here.
We pulled into Isthmus Cove, a magical little cove that reminds us of Maine with the large rock tumbling down to the sea. We settled in for the weekly blow and rainstorm. The next day we explored an old mine and smelting location and gathered mussels for dinner. Adelaide and Cameron headed off for a fish and brought home a few cod for dinner as well.
The next day we headed over to the Preservation Lodge to check in with the folks there and see what is left of the old town of Cromarty. We were welcomed at the beach by one of the guests. It is a private lodge, visited by friends and family of the owners and caretakers in order to hunt deer, fish, gather crayfish and paua (abalone). We had a lovely chat about the history of the place with the people there then continued on to Weka Island where we tied up along a rust bucket of an old ferry, anchored there as a mooring and helicopter pad. We all decided there was no way a helicopter would land on that thing, but apparently, they do! This year the cray fisherman were getting $130NZ/kilo for their crays so there’s money to fly them out for the fresh live market.
In Weka Cove Cameron and the girls headed off to wade in the shallows during low tide to hunt for paua. They came home cold, wet, and triumphant and we had another feast. Today we took off to do a lovely hike out to Puysegur Point Light House. While there we met some people who had come in on a helicopter to upgrade the weather station. We had a good chat with the pilots of the helicopter. They dropped the mechanics off at the lighthouse that morning, then went off to dive for some crays and dropped a deer on the beach while they were at it. The deer was dressed and ready for the flight back to their freezer – not a bad gig.
We are spending one more night tied up to the rust bucket. Cameron and the girls just returned with more paua for dinner and we are prepping for our passage to Stewart Island tomorrow morning. It should take about 24 hours to make it into Port Pegasus and we have a good window in that the seas are supposed to be moderate (just 2 meters), a rare occurrence down here. We have lightish winds, but we have enough diesel to motor much of it if we need to.
Fiordland has been amazing. The wildlife and scenery have been so beautiful to see. We’ve seen tons of seals, two Fiordland crested penguins!!!, tons of albatross, lots of dolphins and a whole range of birds and fish. We have also eaten amazingly well. When leaving Nelson on February 4th I purchased two meals worth of meat and put them in the freezer. They are still there… we’ve been really taking full advantage of the bounty of the sea.
Thankfully, we have a lot to look forward to in Stewart Island. We hear the Bluff oysters are to die for and we got some good intelligence on where to find scallops in knee deep water. The hiking/tramping is supposed to be superior as there is more trail development.
The girls have endured this time of solitude remarkably well. There have been few other boats and no other ‘kid boats’ that we’ve heard of down this way. While in Deepcove a couple of weeks ago, Billy, the boss at the hostel started telling us a story about the last kid boat that came through, we thought they might be just ahead or just behind us. It turns out that was six years ago! Despite all of this, the girls have been getting along really well and putting lots of time into their school, music practice as well as various artistic ventures.
Well, we must get off to bed, tomorrow will be a long day.