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

Well on the way to Spring

Looking out our kitchens bay window this morning onto a frost lawny, an air temperature of 4 degrees after an overnight low of 2 degrees its great to think spring (official spring anyway) is just 3 weeks away. These last week or so have been great. After a couple of weeks of dark cloudy days it’s been wall to wall blue. Though as we had quite strong easterly for a couple of those fine days. And easterly, even if it’s sunny are cold as the wind chill factor is quite noticeable.

We’ve both been busy, Iris in her garden and vanishing into her cave for extended periods for EoY bookwork. As an aside Iris wears her hair in a bun, and I’ve realised her stress level can be deduced by the number of pens residing there in …. a 5 pen day means “Head for the Hills”.

I’ve been busy on little chores, and decided that a 4 wheel garden trolley we bought years ago needed to be rebuilt. The steel mesh sides and base, and the chassis were completely rusted out. Poorly painted steel does not do well on Stewart Island. Anyway the wheels and axles seemed OK, so I decided to build a new chassis and body, out of hardwood and plywood.





A stunning winter day
The Trolley, and more shrubs to plant. 
Anyone would think there are quite enough trees on Stewart Island ….


Woops !!

All went well until I managed to get my left second finger into close contact with my drop saw. The saw won !!!. Marty our nurse was quite excited ,as he said he likes sewing up fingers, but on inspection decided it was mangled beyond his pay grade. So off to Kew Hospital. Two nights, and although I thought I would lose it at the first knuckle was delighted to see when I woke up that the surgeon has managed to save it. So my grateful thanks to the A&E staff at Kew Hospital, the nurses in the men’s surgical ward and to theatre staff. As an aside our daughter Anne had just been down for a weeks R&R. Very tired when she arrived. 80+ hour weeks on call will do that. Talking to some of the staff at Kew they had exactly the same issues. As I said to them truck drivers putting in those hours would find them selves being prosecuted and possible losing their jobs.

The second night I was away the village had a monumental Thunder Storm. Iris said one flash and boom was directly overhead. And that was the end of both our web cams. Which are now replaced. Better quality cams, so we have a better view out of the Bay. And the “Flights” cam is more focused on Garden Mound, which gives them a handle of visibility into the airstrip

And Rats !!

Last summer and autumn we had a significant Rimu Mast, the last one in 2019. A really good coprosma fruiting as well. So as well as lots of autumn food for the rats we had the driest summer I can remember here, and thus excellent breeding conditions.

We are now paying the price. Rats everywhere, and Iris’s trapping is going gang busters. Since early June she’s killed over 70 rats at Sails Ashore and Kowhai Lane. We run 3 separate trapping systems.

  1. Traditional “Snap” traps sited under a cover which both keeps birds out, and keeps the bait dry. But they need to be cleared and reset each kill
  2. Good Nature” Traps. These are quite high tech, not cheap, but will kill up to 20 times before needing re-serviced. So a set and forget.
  3. D Rat” snap traps. These are single set traps, so must be cleaned and reset each kill. But they are a leaver set system, and so much easier to clear and reset.

It’s interesting that in the earlier days, when I suppose the rats weren’t so hungry kills would be in one of the 3 types of traps, and the other two not so successful. Then the ratio would change, with one of the others working better.

Now they are really hungry and there is not much difference between the 3 styles.


We use a variety of lures.

  1. The lure that comes with the Good Nature traps,
  2. A mix of blue tinted icing sugar and an anti mould inhibitor
  3. Mutton Bird oil
  4. Nuttela
  5. Salami works well, but a bit expensive. (and a waste of yummy salami)
  6. Dog sausage works well but needs to be used in dry locations

The trick seems to be to change the lure type regularly.

Solar Update

Early in the month we had a succession of dark days, and had to top the batteries up for a couple of hours of generator time several times. Something we expected although a bit annoying. But going back through the logs, since we commissioned the plant late November total generator time has worked out at 15 minutes per day…. about half a litre of diesel. It’s taken a while to fine tune our excess power diversion into hot water. But it now seems to be working as I hoped it would. Above 98% full charge on our Li battery a relay closes and an electric element in our hot water cylinder turns on, and our diesel furnace turns off. Initially we had to do this manually, but a cunning bit of kit from China now does this automatically.  It’s not perfect, as battery State of Charge (SoC) and voltage is not a linear relationship. But it does seem to work. And even with the far from accurate hand switching earlier on of furnace consumption seems to less than 50% of pre-solar.

Road Hazards

Visiting pedestrians can be a real issue walking in the middle of the road.
This one is much bettere behaved… sighted on a road tour