• Penelope Haines

Bluff – Port Adventure - Day 2

Updated: Aug 4

This morning we were picked up at 8.30am and transferred to Bluff where we caught the ferry to Stewart Island, Foveaux Strait has a gnarly reputation as a stretch of water to be respected. Although I’m usually a good sailor, we’d pre-prepared by taking a Sea Legs tablet each. Whether because of the prophylactic, or because the catamaran ferry cut smoothly through the seas, we were both fine. The crossing took about an hour, and as soon as we were in the lea of Stewart Island, the seas calmed. By the time we’d reached the wharf, we were sailing across a millpond.


The weather is expected to deteriorate, so after the formality of a life jacket briefing, it was all aboard to Port Adventure so that we have a head start on the cruise to Port Pegasus tomorrow.


Although the sea was a little choppy as we headed south, there were no sea-sickness casualties. We reached Port Adventure in time for lunch.


We’d sailed with the Milford Wanderer some years ago and our enjoyment of that trip had led to our returning on this cruise. In the ten or so years between trips, the ship has had a major upgrade. Our cabins now have doors, beds instead of bunks, and a toilet and shower right outside. A vast improvement on previous arrangements. The beds look warm and comfy, and each cabin has a heater.


Even better, the food remains at the same high level of quality, The lunch John and the crew set out for us was top notch, an the evening meal even better. Clearly I’m not going on a diet this week!


In the afternoon we sailed into Port Adventure and anchored off Salty Beach. We were able to tender ashore and walk the length of the beach.


The sand had a peculiarly dense quality, being largely comprised of granite granules. Scattered across the sand were small granite stones of a wide variety of colours. They were as pretty in their own way as shells – and there were also a few large, brightly coloured paua shells.


The beach carried the imprint of the tracks of white tailed deer, possum and kiwi. Here and there were patches of scuffed up sand hard against the bank that separated the beach from the hinterland. These are sign of sea lions who come ashore, scrap up the beach and then climb up to sleep in the undergrowth of the bush line above.


We climbed the bank by way of a short ladder they’d tendered in on the boat. The bush is very different to that further north that I’m used to. The undergrowth was thicker, with low growing ferns, turpentine bushes and moss. Higher, the taller trees, rata, manuka and a thick leaf tree mutton-birds grub, related to rangiora, all showed damage from the wild weather that must prevail most of the year around.


As we were tendered back to the Milford Wanderer we were taken on a cruise around the adjacent bays: of Abrahams bosom. A ship was moored in one of the bays. It turns out that they had left Auckland in late January and been sailing around NZ ever since. It was fatuous but inevitable to ask them “How did your lockdown go?” I doubt if they’d even realised there was a pandemic on in the rest of the country!


A short presentation about Rakiura (Stewart Island) rounded out the evening – and then it was time for bed in our surprisingly comfy, if narrow, beds.