Stewart Island

This third largest island of New Zealand is very special in many ways. Not many tourists come here - and they couldn't, because there are very few hotel / hostel beds.
It is the area with most rain in New Zealand. It has the longest walks of whole New Zealand (over 150km) and yet the least frequented ones.
It is called the island of sunsets, it is known for its bird sanctuaries and tourists who come here do so in the hope of seeing Kiwis. In no other place in New Zealand do they guarantee Kiwi spotting or money back. Well, the english couple who teamed up with us for quiz night got their money back. Bad luck because chances are really high. This time we also did not see any in the known areas, but while hiking in the bush in the South.  
Stewart Island is home not only of heaps of blue penguins but also, at least in one spot, of yellow eyed penguins. There are only few places in the world where you can see them. One is on an island off of Puerto Deseado in Argentina (Patagonia), one is on the Otago Peninsula near the Albatros colony and one on the very south of Stewart Island. And yes, we did see one - but no good picture. 
Stewart Island is mostly pure nature. And the most beautiful place is inaccessible for regular tourists. Port Pegasus, known as paradise and one of the most beautiful landscapes of New Zealand to „boaties", is a place of peace and joy reserved for the one lucky enough to be on a boat. Fishermen, motor yachts and sailing vessels can find that little paradise. Except for fishermen not many people come here. It's far off the beaten tracks and it's amidst the track of many storms and fronts and summer usually cuts down to a couple of days a year. We were lucky to have been there during their main summer this year: feb 17-19, a period with a ridge over the whole country of New Zealand bringing unusual warm weather and clear skies as you will see in the pictures. 
In Port Pegasus there are lots of anchorages and each one of them CALM, no movement of the boats as you are always tied between anchor and a stern line from a buoy which is installed in most bays. You can find tracks here and there for a hike, but most of them you have to make your own track and fight your way through the bush. As it is very wet here it comes at no surprise that every hike encounters you to find ways around and over creeks and waterfalls. Sometimes you end up in one of these challenges. Yes, I did fall into the mud once and I did manage to slip of a little tree which served as a bridge and ended up in the creek. But that's part of the game and fun.

I already told you about my fun birthday with the seal that I called „Charlotte" playing with us. The video is ready to be put online. We had perfect weather and we saw a yellow eyed penguin. A perfect day. 
Next day we hiked up Bald Cone, through bush and burnt bush, over rims and huge stones. It was tough and hot (!!), but the view up there and those moments are just priceless. What a joy. We went down a different way hoping it would be a bit easier, and it was for a while. To the very end however we had to nearly swim the river back to our Dinghy. The tide had come in about 1m (as we expected). There was no way we could walk on land through the bush because we knew we would not get down to the river from the high rim there. So we had no choice but walk back IN the river. Hiking boots tied to the backpacks, backpacks held up high over the head, crogs on the feet and water up to the breasts, that's how we walked - or better to say: balanced - our way back over slippery big stones trying to now get trapped between rocks. And then as we're standing at a corner trying to figure out how to continue without having to swim, a seal comes swimming along the river in our direction. Happily, as they do, enjoying the swim, and he went directly for Marcus. I thought, oh maybe it's another one of those who want to play with us. But no, he did not realize we were there. He stopped about an inch off Marcus' foot, paused, slowly moved his head up along Marcus' leg, out of the water, realized he was looking at something straight, freaked out and swam away as fast as he could. You should have seen his (or better: her) eyes (it was a girl) widen when she saw Marcus. We had to laugh so hard. Too bad I do not have this on video. 

We have so many good memories, I don't want to bore you with all the stories. I made a video of our time in Stewart Island, a compilation of the best scenes. And I used the only rain time we had to make the music for this movie. I am still in the progress of leaning all of this, am fighting with the software, but for my first work I am quite pleased I have to say. I will upload them today if I can, then you can enjoy a little bit of our paradise. 

Now we're at Doubtful Sound and we're going over to see Billy and Wilma now, met them 2 years ago. They manage the hostel here. On Monday we'll meet a colleague from work and his lady who happen to be here in New Zealand for 4 weeks and had put Doubtful Sounds in their plans in a time when we are here. Nice coincidence. Looking forward to meeting them. 

Can't wait for our walks here…Pictures to come. 

Here some pix of Port Pegasus:

And I forgot: priceless the sky in the dark with all the stars including the reflection in the water- I even caught 3 falling stars!!


Good as gold

Good as gold - a Kiwi expression for very good - is a perfect description for our time down here. We celebrated, ate well, laughed, hiked for many hours, fell in the mud, walked in full clothes through a river with water over the breasts on the way back from hiking to our Dinghy, caught fish, watched movies and enjoyed the smell of summer. I spent the last 3 days composing music and cutting little movies from our time here using my own music. SOmething for you to look forward to.
We're leaving Stewart Island tomorrow early in the morning heading for Doubtful Sound where we should arrive a day later.
Communication has been mostly impossible down here, hope that improves now a bit. Our sat phone contract starts tomorrow.

radio email processed by SailMail
for information see: http://www.sailmail.com