Port Pegasus and Paterson Inlet
01 April 2012 | Stewart Island, New Zealand
Stewart Island is an amazing place! I know I've said this before, but this really might be our favorite place in all New Zealand. It was wonderful to visit the town of Oban after being in remote areas for two months. Fresh fruit and veggies, a restaurant, the delightful museum, and the informative Rakiura National Park Info Centre were all treats. The people we met there were incredibly friendly, inviting us to their homes, feeding us, and offering the use of their wifi and laundry facilities. One kind yachtie suggested we use his private mooring at Ulva Island which is a bird sanctuary. Late one afternoon we were the only people on the entire island.
A ferry service from Bluff and small planes from Invercargill bring visitors to Oban. Water taxis provide access to various places around Patterson Inlet, a large and protected natural harbor. Several well maintained tramping trails lead around and across the northern part of the island. Access to the southern part of the island is by boat or float plane only, and most longtime residents of Oban have never ventured down there.
No tracks or roads lead to Port Pegasus, another large and protected harbor fifty nautical miles south of Patterson Inlet. When the seas are furious outside, calm refuge can be found in one of the many coves inside.
Rugged, wind-swept bush and granite outcroppings cover the land. Sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins swim about in the waters rich in blue cod, paua (abalone) oysters and scallops. During our 10 days in Pegasus we saw 2 other yachts, 2 fishing boats and Southern Winds, the DOC boat with sea lion researchers on board. Many days we were the only boat in whichever arm we were anchored in. Dozens of tiny islands dot both the North and South Arms of Port Pegasus. What fun it was to kayak around the edges and explore the shoreline in complete solitude except for a barking sea lion on a sandy beach or the watchful gaze of a shag standing on the rocks.
Many people say blue cod is the best tasting fish there is. We agree. They are only found in southern NZ but the plump bottom feeders haven't figured out how precious they are or how to resist capture. True to what the guidebook says, they attack any baited hook with suicidal enthusiasm. We even had one jump onto a rock next to us! We scooped him into the kayak, the first time we'd ever caught a fish without a line. Large paua are plentiful in several anchorages hiding among the swaying kelp. At one point I found four in the space of one square meter. Oysters are easy to find and giant scallops were in abundance. I plucked 20, the limit, as quickly as I could dive and surface in 4-5 meters of water. I think we found paradise on Earth!
See more pictures and read stories of our time on Stewart Island at our website: www.tenayatravels.com.