Sunday, December 21, 2008

Puysegur Point

Today was an absolutely glorious summers day so we took the opportunity to take the dinghy down Otago's Retreat and walk up to the Pusegeur Point lighthouse. We had some nice views as we headed out, looking down the sound back towards the hills with the last vestiges of snow on the mountains in the far distance. I'm not sure whether it was an anticlimax or not to see Puysegur Point in relatively calm weather with only a bit of swell rolling in (although I won't complain if that's the weather we get
when we head out and round to Stewart Island in a few days!). The walk up to the lighthouse was pretty with views out to sea and lots of birdsong and butterflies and flowers. From the lighthouse we could see out to sea, up the coast to Chalky Island and down the coast to the Solander Islands. We walked further along to the beach where Sealers No. 1 Creek meets the sea, a golden sandy beach. I ventured in for a swim - maybe just so I could say I have swum at Puysegur Point but not out very deep as
there was quite a rip running and this was not exactly swimming between the flags! We also had a look at Sealers No. 2 Creek where we were dive bombed repeatedly by a pair of NZ falcon. I heard the rush of wings as one went for Jim and another time I was forced to duck as one skimmed the top of my head. They weren't selective as a paradise duck got similar treatment.

We are currently anchored at Kisbee Bay in Preservation Inlet, far enough out that we are not bothered by sandflies much. Kisbee is the site of Cromarty, a former mining town flourishing in 1895, which with the demise of gold and coal prospecting has disappeared into the bush. The only signs remaining are at the site of the Kisbee hotel where you can see a bit of the foundations and lots of broken bottles. There are also large rhododendron bushes which are in full flower, one bright red and the other
white. There is quite a bit of red foliage breaking up the green at the moment as the southern rata is starting to bloom and we can see intense bursts of scarlet scattered in the trees which is the mistletoe in flower. Other relics around Cromarty include an old boiler from the sawmill.

Yesterday we walked up the the site of the Alpha Battery gold mine at the head of Sealers No. 1 creek. All the equipment had just been left in place after the mine became uneconomical, the stamper where the quartz ore was crushed and other machinery including the pelton wheel (think water wheel), bowl crushers, pipes and an old safe are all still there. We took the longer route (from Kisbee rather than further up at Te Oneroa) which made it a seven hour tramp just a bit further than our normal stroll
of about 40 feet! In Preservation Inlet we also visited the old Tarawera smelter where, among other remains, a reclining chimney built of brick still stands.

On our way round from Dusky to Preservation we spent a few days in Chalky Inlet. In Chalky, we anchored in North Port near the hulk of the Stella. The Stella is an old steam ship which used to service the region and was purposely beached in North Port. One night a fishing boat anchored nearby which is the first time we have really shared an anchorage (as opposed to eg anchoring near tourist boats on their moorings). We haven't seen a single yacht yet and very few pleasure craft although we are starting
to hear other yachts in Fiordland on the radio. No doubt as we head towards Stewart Island with the Christmas season approaching this will change.


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