Welcome to Stewart Island & Sails Ashore +64 3 219 1151 tait@sailsashore.co.nz

AWL- Absent with Leave

No, I haven’t dropped off the planet, but I have been away for several weeks in Dunedin, undergoing follow up treatment from surgery I had 18 months ago. Home again, and all seems to be well, and my grateful thanks to the staff at Dunedin Public Hospital and at Daffodil House (where I stayed) for their care, professionalism and good humour.

I came home each weekend, so 4 nights in Dunedin, and 3 on the Island. The drive up and back was more that a slight eye opener, especially the number of heavy haulage “B” trains on the road. Although I did make use of them, tucked in behind and allowing them to do the driving made my driving easier than expected. If they could get around a corner at 90K, then so could I.

Busy Time Away

I was able to keep quite busy while away. We give our guests a short DVD and photo album and it was due for a rebuild … a couple of weeks work..You can see a YouTube version of it in the link below

Guest DVD

I was also able to tidy up our digital photo album. Obviously a long over due exercise, as I found just over 2000 un-cataloged images.

And that led on to a general house cleaning amongst the files that just build up

But it wasn’t all work, and each week I went out and explored some of my memories

Out & About

Both of my parents were born and grew up in Dunedin, and both of our children went to school there, so I was able to re-visit many of the places I was familiar with both as a child, and later as a parent with our family. I have always said if I had to l;ive in a city Dunedin would be my choice. The old Port Chalmers and Oamaru stone buildings are stunning, and with the hills and harbour the views are spectacular to say the least.


Taieri Gorge

One afternoon was on the Taieri Gorge Rail trip. We departed from Dunedin Railway station at midday and headed south to Wingatui, and then turned inland up the Taieri Gorge proper. I love rail travel, and used to take our children on this trip when we put them into secondary school each year. They were not always that thrilled after the first trip. But this time was quite depressing, as I realised just how long ago that was. What then was high country farmland is now several years into second rotation pine forests, and a rotation is probably around 30 years.  Old fart now.

Otago Peninsula

The views over Otago Harbour from the Peninsula are stunning, and the drive itself through farmland, past Larnach Castle (I didn’t stop, but it is well worth a visit) down to Portobello where my maternal grandmothers family settled when they arrived from Holland on the  Caribou in 1865. Although Caribou sailed from Glasgow the Scholten family … parents, two brothers and two sisters …. were Dutch. Past Portobello the road ends at Tairoa Heads, and the Albatross Colony. Again well worth a visit, although again I didn’t go in, as I’ve been up close and personal with Southern Royals on the Auckland Islands.

Mostly the trip up and down to Dunedin was in great weather, but once I ran into snow between Mataura & Clinton


An afternoon excursion on the Taieri Gorge Railway. 

One of the many Viaducts



Although not particularly high, or at least compared with Fiordland, the line is an engineering marvel when considered it was built with pick and shovel, and minimal or no use of explosives due to the risk of landslides.


The Bridal Veil Falls


Viaduct in rugged terrain


The line climbs steadily out of the gorge, with the river far below


A stop to enjoy the view


I think there are 13 tunnels, certainly a lot. And the carriages only just fit. Almost scary how close the walls are to the windows. But then again if dug entirely by hand each extra shovel full is a waste.

Otago Peninsula


Looking north along Otago Harbour from close to Larnach Castle



Much of Otago Peninsula is farmed





Harbour Cone, above Portobello. My mother told me that the early settlers were apprehensive about an old volcano so close to their homes, so a group climbed it, and rolled boulders into the cone to plug it up


My Maternal Great Grand Parents grave in Portobello Cemetery.
My Maternal Grandfather was Scots, and as a 14 year old Captains Cabin Boy, jumped ship in Dunedin.





“The Spit” on the west side of the entrance of Otago Harbour, from Tairoa Heads



Looking down over Port Chalmers from above North East Valley



My fathers family donated land to the Education board for a school at Purakaunui, just north of Port Chalmers

. After it was closed it came back to me and a cousin. But the building was quite derelict, and used as a hay barn, so for us on Stewart Island not really something we could enjoy. We sold it, and I’m happy to say someone has rebuilt it with much care and love, and it’s now a home

The other side of the harbour takes you down to Port Chalmers, especially scenic if you go up Northeast Valley and over the hills to Port Chalmers, and then down to Aramoana and “The Spit”. My Fathers family was from “Port” and his father was once mayor, and a shore engineer for the Union Company. At The Spit is a man made mole stretching out off shore to form the west entrance to the shipping channel. My fathers Uncle had a holiday home there many years ago, and I remember several hot summers holidays enjoying the sun and the sea … a huge thrill for a country boy.

At the west side of the entrance of Otago Harbour is “The Mole”, with stunning sandy beaches and the small village of Aramoana

Tairoa Heads, looking east from the “mole”

To the west of the mole is a beautiful seaward beach, and immediately below the high point of the hill there 
used to be a wonderfully high steep sand hill. Hard work to climb, but great fun to slide down on a tray.