After returning to the Spirit we slowly cruised down the eastern coastline looking for opportunities to launch the zodiacs, but with 70kt gusts funnelling down the many inlets we would have to wait till the next day.
By the next morning the wind had calmed enough for us to explore North Arm in Carnley Harbour, at the south end of the island group between Auckland Island and Adams Island. First stop was the site of the Grafton, a small boat that was blown aground in 1863. Remains of the ship and the hut they built (“Epigwaitt”) were still visible. I was impressed to learn that in the 18 months they were wrecked there they built a forge to create tools to help them build another vessel to sail north, and after five days of sailing they arrived at Stewart Island to organise a rescue party. No small feat given the distance and conditions. On the way back to the ship for lunch we zodiac cruised around Figure of Eight island, where tui flitted between crimson flowering rata.
I was excited to hear that our “expedition afternoon” would take us up to Musgrave Inlet on the eastern side of the main island, with a bush walk to Lake Hinemoa. After a relatively quiet morning scenery and wildlife-wise I was looking forward to stretching my legs and visiting a location that groups don’t often get to. ‘Route’ is probably an unfair term for the rarely trodden track partially marked with old permolat tags we followed for a couple of kilometres through twisted rata trees. After a few wrong turns and stops to let everyone catch up and avoid getting lost we were greeted to a large lake at the head of a glacial valley, a small waterfall tumbling into the freshwater at the far end. Strong winds whipped off the hills, sending whitecaps across the lake and small waves splashing the rocks at our feet. The way back down to the bay was easier to follow now there were footprints in the soft ground, and only one sea lion surprise amongst the rata.