Patterson Inlet – Stewart Island

Monday April 5th Little Glory Cove, Patterson Inlet, Stewart Island, NZ
North from Port Adventure, the next safe harbor on Stewart Island is Patterson Inlet, where lots of nooks and crannies and small islands create good anchorages and interesting excursions. The most interesting of these to us upon arrival was the little town of Oban. We hadn’t seen a grocery store or had any cell service since our VISA trip to Invercargill, and while we had months worth of food, we were out of most of our fresh produce.
The big city of Oban is situated on the North East coast and is a quick walk over the hill from a good anchorage. First thing first, we found the wifi (free, if slow, from the library), laundry facilities (the trampers hostel), and the grocery store. Not to be forgotten was the pub where we sat with a beer and fries and watched the world go by – which didn’t take that long.
The island only has 400 inhabitants. Trekking, hunting and fishing is the main activity for tourists and fishing the main industry for the residents. The town has a great feel, and although the locals claim that they’ve been overrun with Kiwi’s traveling there during COVID, it doesn’t feel overly touristy.
I did do one touristy activity that I would highly recommend. I got to make my own Greenstone (NZ Jade) pendent, a typical Kiwi adornment. I spent most of one day with artist Dave Goodin at his stone carving workshop. I got to design my pendant, select the stone, and cut and polish it. It was a very cool experience. Dave even sent us home with some local venison for Easter.
From the big city we set off to Millar’s Beach further up the inlet. We’d met a local in the anchorage who invited us up to his house and to see the old whaler’s base near his place. We spent a few days there, but with some weather on the way, we wanted to get to a safer all-weather anchorage. That anchorage, Little Glory, was down the inlet. The wind was already cranking when we headed out, prior to departure Cameron had gone to the top of the hill and it looked somewhat localized. Once outside the shelter of Millar’s Beach we found that the waves in the inlet had built surprisingly fast and the wind was a bit stiffer than was forecast as it funneled down the inlet.
Well, it was an interesting little sleigh ride down the inlet. We didn’t have any sails up, just motoring at low RPMs downwind, but the gusts kept forcing us to round up now and again, heeling us over abruptly. This was a cause of anxiety to Isa who decided to curl into a fetal position in the foot well of the cockpit while putting her hands over her ears and making a pained expression. Adelaide, in contrast, went below, made herself lunch and read her book.
Cameron and I were most concerned about the dinghy, which we had trailing behind us. Normally, if we anticipate any biggish seas we would hoist the outboard motor onto it’s bracket on the stern rail of Banyan and lift the dinghy and tie it upside down on the bow. With an hours motor across a ‘protected’ inlet, we didn’t think it would be necessary. Well, we hadn’t really expected the sea state we encountered. At one stage Cameron and I watched the dinghy go speeding by us as it surfed down a wave. When it hit the end of its painter it crashed into the side of the boat then went sideways and slid back into its position trailing behind us. Cameron and I looked at each other with wide eyes and we watched its progress nervously for the rest of the short passage.
Miraculously, the dinghy made the trip without flipping. With anchor down in Little Glory cove we settled in to a bit of a bumpy night at anchor. The next day, Easter, dawned with even more wind and no rest in the forecast. I don’t know why we thought we were out of the woods. Last year Cameron spent most of Easter elbow deep in the holding tank (aka poop tank). So, in keeping with tradition…
Sometime mid morning Cameron popped up to bring in some laundry. He looked back behind Banyan and saw our dinghy’s hull – the bottom of the hull, faced up. At some point the wind had lifted and flipped the dinghy – no small task as the dinghy had the heavy outboard motor on the back as well as a full gas tank, anchor and dinghy wheels which all contributed to its weight. This put a damper on Easter morning. With the wind whipping at 40+ knots and gusting even higher, we weren’t about to deal with it at that moment, so spent the rest of the morning waiting for the wind to die down to the forecasted 30 knots to deal with the issue.
A few moody hours later (and in plenty of wind) Cameron was in full foulies, life jacket on, laying on top of the dinghies upturned hull. Happily the engine was still clamped on the transom of the dinghy and not at the bottom of the anchorage (YAY!!!). We had pulled the dinghy up along side Banyan and Cameron was reaching underneath to see if any of the contents of the dinghy has survived the flip and were trapped underneath. Out came a dinghy wheel! Then came a life jacket!! THE GAS TANK (which had been tightly closed and hadn’t leaked), and another life jacket!! We could see the dinghy anchor line which was tied in! Each item inspired cheers and applause from Cameron’s audience of ladies. Once our items were recovered, we flipped the dinghy, hoisted the engine and promptly filled the dinghy with water so it wouldn’t flip again. Turns out, all we lost were the two oars which we never liked anyway!
The rest of the day Cameron worked on the engine, purging it of salt water, rinsing with freshwater and using copious amounts of Corrosion X to mitigate any issues from being turned upside down in salt water for an unknown amount of time. We all breathed a sigh of relief when it sputtered to life and ran with ease. I went about preparing the venison that Dave Goodin had given us for Easter supper in order to try and resurrect our Easter celebrations.
The weather is still pretty stiff. In a conversation with Andy Stewart over SSB radio last night, he told us that he saw 70 knot gusts recorded on a shore based station not too far form us (yikes). Over the VHF radio this morning we listened to some salty Stewart Islanders talking about how the weather had calmed down a bit and it was “only” blowing 40 at present and describing 6 meter seas as “a bit lumpy”. Ha! We are happily anchored down and not going anywhere until things ease up…which, according to the current forecast isn’t happening until Friday! Oh well, we will get some reading in and lots of schooling completed.
Love to you all. Happy Easter —– At 4/3/21 8:18 (utc) our position was 46°58.33’S 168°09.48’E


  1. Marianne McGriff says:

    Easter Blessings, Banyon Crew
    Your adventures continue to keep me mesmerized to the words on your blog. Oh, my goodness…thank you for such a great description of your Easter. Our Easter pales in comparison, and He Blessed us.
    Sending much love, Marianne

  2. Jennie Cunningham says:

    What a blessing you were able to ‘right the ship’ without too much fanfare and were able to save most of your things. Whew! Love and hugs from our crew to yours

  3. David Means says:

    Hi. I am a friend of Doug Vawter and I lived in Australia for 7 years and have been to New Zealand 4 times,the latest being for two months in 2010. I love the country and would immigrate if I were younger and they would take me. I went to Stewart Island for the day in 1972. Aboard were 40 women who were mail order brides. Thanks for your posts. Enjoy your time.

  4. Ruth says:

    Thanks for sharing your unique adventures. I can relate with Isa. I’d be right there with her praying for protection. Praise God for the jewelry and gift of venison. Did it taste different than our venison? So happy you were able to save the dinghy. God continue to richly bless and protect you through every adventure. Happy belated Resurrection day. Love and blessings.

    • Anne Vawter says:

      The venison was delicious. It was a shoulder so I did a pressure cooker recipe for a pot roast. I don’t think it was very easy to tell that is was venison. It could have easily been mistaken for beef as it was falling apart and super delicious – not gamy at all. It was white tail deer from here on Stewart Island. YUM!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.