Back to the fiords

17-21 December 2017. Our third volunteer trip on the DOC boat Southern Winds. This mission was to clear traps and improve tracks on islands in Preservation and Chalky Inlets, the southernmost fiords in Fiordland. The trip in via Lake Manapouri, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds and the Tasman Sea was, as usual, stunning.

We were lucky enough to see an Orca pod, but less lucky photographing them.

The weather was kind. It only rained at night. Which kept the waterfalls flowing nicely.

We spent our first evening installing new traps on one of the Cording Islands. Colin spotted this variable oystercatcher nest amongst the rocks.

The rata was in full flower in Preservation Inlet.


Sue checked the traps along Pratts Track on Coal Island. In places the track was covered in Greenhood orchids.

Dave’s trap checking along the mainland came to an abrupt halt at Te Oneroa hut. A young elephant seal had moved in.


Northport in Chalky Inlet is a great place to catch the sunset and anchor for the night.

Day two was long and energetic… Checking traps, and cutting and re-marking tracks, on Great Island. Dave got lost on this track back in September. This time we kept a GPS log of that section. It’s easy to see just what an indirect route the taped line follows, and the many places one could go wrong! The yellow dots are trap locations, generally 100m apart – in a straight line!

On day three we worked on the Passage Isles, between Chalky and Great Islands. Rata flowers covered the forest floor.

A young South Island saddleback checked us out on northern Passage island. It’s worth checking out this video… Not so much for the bird, but for its song.

The south and west sides of Chalky Island are fully exposed to the Tasman Sea. Tucked away on the southwest corner however, is Boat Cove – a sheltered bay with a substantial population of NZ fur seals.


Then back to the wonderful Dusky Sound. These mountains connect to the Dark Cloud Range. We hope to get there soon!

Cascade Cove in Dusky Sound is yet another wonderful spot.

We pulled into the cove to visit Astronomers Point. Cook spent five weeks here in 1773. And it was here they brewed New Zealand’s first beer. To commemorate, we took beer ashore. From left, Sue, Mike, Lindsay and Dave.

As a side note, we contributed Speights tins to this trip, getting into the Southland rural groove. We called it wrong, it was more a pinot noir and craft beer trip!

The crew. From left: Jim, Sue, Helen, Mike, Pete, Heather, Colin , Mike and Lindsay. Missing: Chris (skipper) and Dave (taking the photo).

Then time to head home, via Acheron Passage, Breaksea Sound (pictured), then up the coast and into Doubtful Sound.

Thanks to DOC for having us along.

Posted 10 January 2018.