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The last part of our trip to Stewart Island from Akaroa was very slow and after plodding along at about 2/3 knots, we finally entered Paterson Inlet on the 3rd February and dropped our hook at around 4pm in Kaipipi Bay which was a beautiful shallow inlet with great shelter and lovely flat water

An added bonus was that there was a nice 6 km walk through the Bush from Kaipipi Bay to the main village on the Island called Oban where there was a half decent Pub which served chips with the jugs of beer…

Unusual Road signs...

Roger decided that it was time to take a dip in the shallow water to clean our hull. He spent 4 hours scraping the bottom and knocked off a strip of mussels 12 inches deep from the keel that we had presumably been carrying all the way from the Marlborough Sounds – no wonder we were only making 3 knots and using 8 litres of fuel per hour !!!

We stayed in Paterson Inlet for a couple of weeks watching the birds and not really doing very much except enjoying the peace and quiet. We found some great walking tracks and obtained a special Permit from the Department of Conservation to visit the beach reserve at night to try and spot a Kiwi foraging.

We got up at 4am to prowl the beach in the dark and eventually waited until dawn when we were finally rewarded with seeing 2 of them scavenging around in the driftwood - much larger than we thought they'd be. Quite cool really and then we went back to bed for a few hours !!!

There were also a number of Sealions in the area and one feisty lady clearly thought we had kidnapped her baby. She started chasing Roger across the beach in a very aggressive manner - needless to say, he didn’t hang around too long.

We tried out 5 different anchorages whilst we were waiting for some sunny weather to head further South on the Island.

There were thousands of Blue Mussels in the bays and at low tide we were out mussel collecting by the bucket load.

Monty helping...

Roger has tested all the Mussel recipes we have and it has got to the stage where he really can’t bear to look at another mussel. Perhaps it was time for us to go snorkelling for Scallops....

At last, we had a gloriously sunny day and although there was a very nasty sea swell we decided to leave our cosy inlet and sail to Lord’s River. We anchored in “The Nook” with stern and bow lines tied to trees – very reminiscent of our Patagonia days. It was very picturesque and we could have stayed there for a number of days but we wanted to keep going so we only stopped one night.

Our next stop was Ben’s Bay in the North arm of Port Pegasus – another really quiet anchorage. We stayed here for a couple of nights before moving on to the West arm of Evening Cove in the South arm of Port Pegasus.

From here, we tried to follow the track up to the top of Magog in the Frazer Peaks but unfortunately it was so overgrown that we gave up after a couple of hours.

On the 20th February we arrived at Disappointment Cove which is immediately to the South of the appropriately named “Fright Cove” and right at the bottom of Stewart Island (47’ South). A tricky place to get in and out of during heavy weather but we had picked a nice calm day and managed to squeeze past Nelly Island and the adjacent rocks and slipped into the cove using stern lines as well as our usual 2 anchors.

This is a pretty bombproof anchorage which was just as well as there was some fairly dodgy weather over the next few days (60/70 knots of wind). On our third day, the bay was visited by a couple of huge RIBs each containing a number of passengers. They were from the NZ Navy Ship “Wellington”. Apparently the Ship was on a conservation mission but had experienced 14 metre waves just South of Stewart Island so had turned back to wait out the weather. They had about a dozen DOC officials on board who were taking the opportunity to examine the wildlife and habitats on this part of the Island. We were rather pleased that we had been watching the weather quite closely as we certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be caught out in those waves !!!

A cruising yacht (Indian Summer) on it’s way back to Auckland was our next visitor. They were a nice bunch of guys and gave us lots of scallops that they had dived for in the next bay. In return, we gave them some Rock Buns…

The rain was getting rather tedious. After 10 days in this anchorage, it was still very cold, wet & windy and this was supposed to be Summer !!!!

We were also still searching for that elusive yellow-eyed Penguin but instead we just kept seeing more Sealions… not only had Roger been chased by an angry Sea Lioness across the beach, we had now been chased in the dinghy by one in the water - needless to say, Vicki clung onto Basil & Monty for dear life while telling Roger in no uncertain terms to row faster... as if he needed telling !!!! Not sure what aftershave he is wearing but obviously those Sea Lions like it...



At last - a yellow-eyed Penguin...

Finally, on the 5th March we had a weather opportunity to round the “second most Southern Cape in the World” and, indeed, our second ‘Great Southern Cape’. We left early in a light Easterly wind with 3 metre swells.

Unfortunately, our plan to fly the Spinnaker (as we had done around Cape Horn) didn’t work and although this Cape wasn’t as big and scary as Cape Horn, it was still quite bouncy, so we were pleased to make it safely into Murderers Cove on Big South Cape Island.

We couldn’t get comfortable in the anchorage and there were too many shallow rocky bits which we seemed to be swinging towards with alarming regularity so, after a couple of hours, we pulled up our anchors and tootled further up the West coast to Easy Harbour anchoring finally at dusk around 9pm This was a lovely anchorage with a nice beach and plenty of swinging room. Dinner followed at 10pm with a glass of wine and all was well again !!

We would have liked to linger here for a while but we needed to leave the following day as there was a good weather window to get back around the Cape. (We had decided that there were just too many sandflies to head North through Fjordland). We had a lovely sail with 15 knots NWN and ended up in Bulling Bay in the North Arm of Port Pegasus.

Actually, we thought that we were in Ben’s Bay again but we had made a slight error and had made a wrong turn into Bulling Bay…. Only the brave or the lost go there – and clearly we were lost !! The following morning at low tide we realised our mistake as we were nastily caught in between rocks. After much toing and froing we escaped the clutches of the bay and nipped around to Ben’s Bay to recover…

The next day we sailed back to Lord’s River and stayed there for a couple of days enjoying the peaceful tranquillity. Then it was off to Abraham’s Bosom where we stayed for 3 days. Because of Vicki’s allergies, we do not usually make any attempt to catch fish but, whilst we were here, we caught some lovely Blue Cod – from a fisherman who threw it right into our cockpit fully filleted and ready to cook !!!!

Roger was delighted and it kept him fed for three days… Unfortunately, he had turned into a decrepit wreck - not only had he knackered up his back (not sure how) but he also twisted his bad knee very badly when he slipped in the woods by the beach when we were walking the dogs. He couldn’t walk and could barely move.... as you can imagine, his new wife's sympathy knew no bounds !!! 

After enjoying the solitude of 14 different anchorages on the Island, we had to think about leaving so, once Roger was fit enough to move, we stopped off one last time in Paterson Inlet where we met up with Superted and duly celebrated Matt's recent 60th Birthday.

This was followed by a round of Golf at the Ringa Ringa Heights Golf Club (the second most Southerly Golf Club in the World)….

It was a bit of an "old crocks" game as Roger was still suffering with his dodgy knee, Matt had a dodgy back and poor Jean was still recovering from the 3 cracked ribs she received while they were in Fjordland – Vicki was the only healthy one and she wasn’t even playing !!!!

It was now time to head North up to Nelson at the top of the South Island to get ready for our passage across the Tasman Sea to Sydney.

Rather than stop in Dunedin, we decided to use the Southerlies to sail straight to Akaroa (292 miles) and to say goodbye to all the lovely people we had met there. Roger had one last Sunday race crewing on “Armalite” – they won which was a very fitting finale to our visit and meant that a few beers were enjoyed in the Clubhouse afterwards…

We left Akaroa on a straight run up to Clifford Bay where we stopped for 1 night arriving back in the Tory Channel on 11th April. Our total foray to Stewart Island covered 1,217 miles and just under 3 months.

Luckily, we had got back to Picton in time to meet up with Alan & Sheila Thoy who were over in NZ on holiday. We had arranged to stay in a Bach with them for 3 days which was great fun.

Roger & Alan managed to squeeze in a couple of rounds of Golf, we had a few Beers and even had beautiful weather for a lovely day sail in the Sounds.

Once they had left, we popped around to Waikawa Marina to collect our sparkling new Main Sail and say a fond farewell to Geoff.

Then we visited Kumutoto Bay for the last time to say goodbye and for the dogs to have one last romp through the woods. It was really quite sad to be leaving as this Bay had become very special to us over the months…

We arrived in Nelson on 4th May ready to do all those last minute jobs before we finally left New Zealand heading across the Tasman Sea for Australia. This included a quick haul to scrub our bottom. We also had to say 'au revoir' to Jean & Matt who were flying back to the UK - not sure when our paths will next cross...