21 August 2017

Fiordland (NZ) in Winter with Real Adventures - New Zealand - without sandflies!

Well, the title is not quite true - I think I was bitten by two sandflies in the eight days we were in Fiordland. The secret is to go in winter when the namu are frozen, stunned by hail or have been drowned. Anyway in response to an invitation from my little (big) brother, John, we extended the invite on to Rosemary, Catherines sister, and her husband Jim. Together with several of John and Chris's friends we formed a happy group. The other passengers were great - you always meet like-minded people on these Real Adventures type trips.

Milford Wanderer in Fiordland


Cruising in Breaksea Sound
The first day had us cruising down the Doubtful Sound, out to sea for three hours and finally anchoring in Breaksea Sound near the northern entrance to Dusky Sound. Catherine and I were delighted to find John as the cook - he had been cook on our journey to Antarctica several years ago - this boded well for our inner needs and he didn't let us down. I found common ground too (through our climbing experiences) with Richard, our nature guide. That night Catherine and I slept in our warm cabins with not a movement from the ship.

Dusky
The next morning we landed in Wet Jacket Arm where the first moose had been released in NZ. We inspected the campsite of hunters and had a short wander in the bush - no moose were to be seen - no wonder with all the happy chatter - mainly the women of course who know nothing about the silence needed for successful hunting! After lunch we cruised down the Acheron Passage (Cook's exit passage from Dusky nearly 250 years ago) and into Dusky Sound. Our next call was into Sportsman Cove a delightful narrow entranced area where we shut the engines to enjoy the total peace of the place. That night we slumbered in Duck Cove.

At Richard Henry's Punga Kiwi Enclosure - created ~130 yrs ago

On a Beach on Pigeon Island


Over the next day or so we visited Pickersgill Harbour where Cook moored the 'Resolution' while he and the crew rested after their 123 day journey from the Cape of Good Hope. It was with some emotion that we observed the moss and fern covered 244 year-old stumps of trees cleared by Cook's men as they prepared the site for Wales's astronomical observations - he accurately placed NZ on the global map for the first time. The whole of Dusky is redolent with names and stories of Cook's visit. One such name is that of a student of Linnaeus, Sparrman a young Swedish botanist, who made the first non-Maori ascent of a peak in NZ. A group of us repeated it in 2005. More about our climb here.

Mood of Dusky


We visited the site of Richard Henry's efforts on Pigeon Island (worthy of an entire book) and walked across Anchor Island to Luncheon Cove where the first NZ sealing gang had been placed in 1792. Less than 20 years after Cook! They had also built a house and the first ship built in NZ.  At Facile Harbour we also observed the site of NZ's first shipwreck in 1795 - the 'Endeavour' with 244 people on board - they completed the ship in Luncheon Cove and many of them rescued themselves in it - they named her the 'Providence'. The ballast stones of the 'Endeavour', made of Sydney sandstone, are still visible in the shallow water of Facile Harbour.

Catherine examining dinner - Rosie's not so sure.

JohnS capturing Albatross en route to Chalky Inlet

Lighthouse at Puysegur Point

Ambling on a Beach near Spit Island
We cruised down to Chalky Inlet where we visited North and South Ports and the wreck of the 'Stella'. At the head of Long Sound those who wished had a good kayak about the coast in perfect conditions. At the seaward end of the sound we walked to Puysegur Point and the historic Spit Island both on calm sunny days - the latter, one of the highlights of the trip. Here Ngai Tahu and the so-called 'Lost Tribe' of Ngati Mamoe had their final showdown.

Finally we all helicoptered out to the power station at Lake Manapouri - an absolutely fabulous flight with the ground below covered in snow and ice.

What a trip. I'd recommend it to anyone - the exposure to open seas is minimal but one can never be guaranteed good weather. We had some rainy days but rain is not the problem - it is mainly the wind and swell. But the crew amend the program to suit the conditions - what more can you do. Another part of our paradise called Aotearoa. And full of amazing history.