Preservation Inlet

is the most southerly of the fjords and similar to Chalky in topography (but without the white cliffs!) It has an interesting history of Maori disputes and European settlers who came in search of gold, seals and whales. The route from Chalky is through ‘broke-away' passage - named by Captain Stokes of HMS Acheron who was driven back twice by storm conditions (now there's a surprise!) whilst trying to get from Preservation to Chalky – on the third attempt he had the schooner ‘Otago' in tow and the rope snapped – obvious name really. We had a good sail down to the entrance of Chalky but the sea started to get a bit rough so Jean had to stand up and hold on to the cockpit table for the next 10 miles or so – ribs too painful to sit.

Once into Preservation the sea calmed and we headed for Spit Island – a beautiful beach but with a history of Maori battles – one of the last being around the early 1770's. After many of his tribe had been killed, one of the chiefs lured his enemy out into the open down on to the beach by wearing a seal skin and playing around in the shallow water whilst his warriors waited in nearby caves. As the tribe came down to kill ‘the seal' they were set upon and the whole tribe was slaughtered.

Sand dunes and rocks on the beach at Spit Island

We headed out to Cuttle cove for lunch – the site of the first whaling station – not a lot left just a plaque – and then on to Isthmus Sound for the night. Further into the sound, we went in search of the remains of a smelter and a recumbent chimney built in 1910/11 in order to process ore which contained a mixture of gold, silver, copper and lead. How on earth they even found such a place in which to build is baffling - it is up on a hillside in the middle of the forest! The theory was, as they both the smelter and chminey faced into the prevailing wind and with the chimney lying on the hillside, they would draw maximum draught to give high enough temperatures to melt the rock. Unfortunately when the first lot of ore was smelted and sent to Sydney for an estimate of the cost of final separation of the metals, it proved to be too expensive so the operation never got off the ground! The best laid chimneys of mice and men.....Apparently the chimney has survived almost in tact until last year.

Matt at the plaque of the first whaling station in Preservation and the recumbent chimney

Our next anchorage was a Kisbee Bay where we came across Preservation Lodge – a privately owed lodge looked after by a series of caretakers throughout the year – the owners and supplies are flown in by helicopter for hunting and fishing jollies!

Old relics in Preservation Lodge

From there we sailed down to Otago's retreat (now if you've been paying attention you may guess that this anchorage was named after the Otago which was driven back from ‘broke-away' passage) which is a mile of so from the entrance and where we were able to walk to Puysegar lighthouse. Renowned as the windiest place in New Zealand , we were lucky to have a calm day and had great views back inland to the mountains and out to the Solander Islands 30 miles to the south-east. Not a very impressive lighthouse though. Great sandstone sculptures on the track.

Sanstone sculptures and arches on the track to Puysegar point

Views back from the lighthouse at Puyseger Point and the not very impressive lighthouse

Surprisingly enough there were a couple of other people taking advantage of the good day to visit Puyseger Point so we had our photo taken!

Back at Kisbee Bay the next day we decided to hike out to another historical site from the gold mining era in a ravine of the Wilson River . The track is partly along an old tramway and along a ridge before heading down a steep ravine to the river. We were amazed at the location of the machinery - it must've taken some great effort to get it all there and then to actually process the ore and ship it out. It took us a muddy 4 hours to get to see the old stamper with a stop for a picnic at the river amongst the sand flies then 3 hours in the rain to get back! Grand day out!

The stamper in the jungle and the Wilson River


Back to flotsam................