Stewart Island Arrival

Disappointment Cove, Port Pegasus Stewart Island, New Zealand March 14, 2021

Upon leaving the Tasman Sea and entering the Southern Ocean we were wearing light clothes and flying the spinnaker until the wind died completely and we had to finally turn on the engine to propel us through the night. We’ve spent colder nights in the South Pacific Islands! We couldn’t help but laugh and thank God. We were reminded of Lin and Larry Pardy’s story of going around Cape Horn the wrong way with the spinnaker up. Sometimes the improbable does happen. In short, we had a good passage. The bigger winds predicted near the end didn’t materialize to the extremes predicted. We hit the currents around the bottom of Stewart Island as planned which helped us along, then sailed close to the wind, tacking up the east coast to Port Pegasus making amazing time.

To call Port Pegasus a port is a bit generous. It is a large uninhabited bay with lots of coves, hikes, and beaches, but no human habitation. To call the cove we are sitting in disappointing is a straight-up lie. It is anything but disappointing. Perhaps the name was used as misdirection? It is a very well-protected cove at the south end of the bay behind several islets. We are secured between our anchor out front and two stern lines to the permanent line running between a small islet and the land. The wind definitely kicked up last evening and through the morning. We are thankful to be pulling at our mooring lines rather than tackling a rough sea.

The southern end of Steward Island is considered one of the great southern capes and marks our most southerly wake so far. We hit 47 degrees, 18.8 minutes south around mid-day yesterday. It is further south than the Cape of Good Hope, but Ushuaia, in South America, has us beat by seven degrees. Stewart Island is much less well-charted than the fiords so a keen eye and attention to the outdated guides we’ve managed to scavenge is really key. Thankfully the water is crystal clear so with me on the bow, and the knowledge that we should avoid any seaweed as it is likely a rock, we travel carefully. Also of note here are the strong currents that rip around the Island. If there is wind blowing against the current, a very large and messy sea can whip up quickly, so attention to currents when traveling between anchorages is important. The land is lower, with a very windblown look to the bush and lots of bare granite rock domes and peaks just waiting to be tackled.

It seems that we’ve traded sand flies for sea lions as the local menace. After we arrived yesterday we were all looking forward to a walk off the boat. Leaving from the head of the cove was a short hike over to the seaward bay. At the beginning of the hike, we found several long sticks in the mud which could be mistaken for walking sticks, but we think they are in fact sea lion discouragement tools. We grabbed them out of their muddy hole and took them along. Once on the beach, I felt remarkably on edge as we’d heard stories of huge male sea lions swimming from a good distance and running toward unaware trampers. With no sea lions on that beach, we pushed our luck and went to the neighboring beach. What looked like a bunch of driftwood across the cove was, in fact, several large sea lions enjoying the very fine weather. We admired them from a distance and they decided not to welcome us in the usual way.

After a good rest last night we’ve now met the boat which pulled in next to us. Already we’ve formed a plan to take advantage of the lovely warm weather by having a bonfire and games on the beach this evening. Hopefully, the sea lions will decide to have their own party and not interfere with ours!


  1. Michele H says:

    Great to hear that you have arrived safely at Stewart Island. Reading your blog has inspired me to book a day trip to the Poor Knights islands next weekend … I haven’t been there since I was in highschool !!

  2. Marianne McGriff says:

    Bonjour, Banyan crew
    Merci pour les nouvelles! Sea lions—wow!
    J’ai hâte de voir les photos.
    Je vous embrasse très fort.

  3. Stephanie West says:

    Waiting restlessly for your adventurous photos! I keep googling the places….but I’m sure your photos will be so much better!

  4. Libbey McKendry says:

    Dad and I are on our way to Oma’s to spend the night, do a little garden upkeep and visit siblings. We hope your party on the beach was absent sea lions! Love you all!

  5. Douglas Vawter says:

    Is your neighbor boat also a “kid boat”? Love your descriptions of your adventure. Enjoy the hikes. Thanks for sharing the name does not fit ——— was wondering how the name originated and “why” you were visiting. New Zealand offers soooo many wonderful sights and experiences. Stay safe! Love to all.

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