Port Pegasus supplementary notes

 

 Additional information provided by Rosemary Gatland, who visited Port Pegasus with Lester Miller in February 2014.

 

Getting There

We used Aurora Charters to take us and our kayaks down, and they will drop you off wherever you like. The cheapest way to go is to backload in when they are going to pick up a chartered group, and vice versa on the way out. It is a 3- hour trip each way.

Camping

We camped at Bulling Bay. There is a flat area here which would hold up to four tents. There is a small stream at the end of the bay with brown tannin-stained water. While this was all right for cups of tea and cooking, it did not have the most pleasant taste when used in our water bottles, and we ended up collecting rainwater when we had the chance.

There are plenty of good camping sites if you go into the bush at the north-west end of Cook Arm, but no fresh water. The tide comes in all the way up this arm to a bank at the end, but kayaks can be got out of the water at about three different places where the bank is low. These places are marked by the rushes which grow there, and you would need to walk across them. The tide here goes out about a kilometre.

The skipper on the Aurora Charters boat took us into the entrance to Cook Arm and pointed out where there was a campsite on the northern side. However, it is necessary to land the kayaks on a rock ledge, then carry them up above the waterline. We did not actually visit the campsite, but this could be a good base to walk up to Gog and Magog from.

The South Pegasus Hunters’ Hut is not visible from the water, but has a white marker (one of the ones used to mark the sides of country roads) hanging from a tree. There is a campsite just a few metres from the hut, but there is an uphill walk on a rough track to get there, ducking under an arched rata on the way. This track would also be muddy in wet weather. This would be a good base to go up to Gog and Magog from.

Marine Forecast

This is broadcast on Channel 65 at 25 past 9 in the morning. We were not able to receive this from our campsite, but could get it once out of the mouth of the bay. However we were able to receive it a 15 minute walk up to a knoll above the campsite. There is now a route marked with pink tape to our reception point. From this knoll, we also had a view down onto Pegasus Passage, and could visually check out weather conditions on this part of the area.

Historical

About 500 metres before Belltopper Falls at the top end of the North Arm of Port Pegasus is a stone jetty. This jetty marks the site of a fishing base and freezer which operated into the 1930s. From this jetty, it is a very short walk uphill to the ruins of one of the buildings from this plant. Just be aware that this jetty is used as a landing pad from time to time by helicopters on a scenic flight around the island. Along from this jetty towards the falls is a large wheel on a concrete pillar, which my book tells me is the remains of the compressor for the fish plant. Power for this plant was provided by a small hydro-electric scheme using water flowing along a water race from the stream above the Belltopper falls.

Directly across the water from the jetty is the site of the hotel and store set up for the tin mining which went on in the area in the late 1800s.

 

Sea lions

Before going down to Port Pegasus, we were given a briefing on sea lions by a local kayaker, who said that we will see them. He said that the females and the older males were not a problem, but that the 2 to 3 year old males could be aggressive. His suggestions were that if we were approached while we were on the water, we should close up and keep paddling. On shore, if one was getting aggressive, he said not to run away, but to stand and look big, maybe by holding the paddle up.

Sea lions are likely to be on any of the sandy beaches, or may have gone up into the bush. When approaching a beach to land, it may be possible to see marks in the sand if any sea lions are there. We were told that if we absolutely need to land, and there is a sea lion there, to go ahead and do so. He also said that it has not been known for a sea lion to actually attack a kayak or a paddler.

Our experiences with sea lions were:-

1) On one occasion we were followed in our kayaks for several hundred metres by a sea lion which was not at all aggressive, and finally diappeared.

2) On three other occasions when we were paddling, sea lions appeared but only stayed with us for short periods. None were aggressive.

3) A sea lion appeared at out campsite, looking as though he would like to come up onto the flat area where our tents were. Apart from barking once, he just looked at us for several minutes while we were standing looking at him, before turning and going away.