Stewart Island is one of those places you can never get enough of. It is wild, rugged, raw, invigorating. It is the place I chose to take my son on our first great adventure together.
We joined Ian Bain and his crew in Riverton and on a crisp clear December morning set off to circumnavigate Stewart Island. Ian's vessel, Jewel, previously belonged to my good friend Blake Scott. Blake had taken us on a journey through southern Fiordland which included an amazing couple of hours hauling huge cod off Solander Island.
Jewel is a ship more then a boat. She is around 20metres long and blessed with a massive beam. For a guy in a wheel chair this means space and space means freedom.
The team was as much into diving as they were fishing and it was hard to watch the boys slip into the rich blue clarity and not join them. Time to get back in the water perhaps?
Darren was shooting underwater camera and some of that footage is simply beautiful. Filming underwater was always one of my passions. It gave me a chance to share a truly unique environment with you and now Darren is supplying that opportunity once again. On a trip around Stewart Island expect the unexpected. I had never been to the south, to Easy Harbour, the Mutton Bird Islands or Pegasus.
All of these places had me shaking my head in wonder. They are indeed wild and unspoiled but they are also part of a great adventure playground. We had no trouble filling our menu with crays, paua, scallops and blue cod. It didn’t take long to get a feed. It gave us time to put a couple of hunters ashore, to look around, to film things like Hooker Sea Lions and penguins. It gave us time to fully appreciate this place.
Stewart Island is a place you can’t help but respect and even cruising from place to place the geography changes from spectacular to more spectacular. Always someone pointing to something or coming up from a dive filled with stories of what they had seen.
Joining a couple of commercial fishermen, who also charter, opens up a whole new world. These guys know about the marine history. They also know about the animals that live in the ocean and how to manage them to good effect. We ate well as we cruised around and came home with enough for another good feed but no one took too much.
Some of the best charters I have experienced over the years have been with current or ex-commercial fishermen. You always seem to invest in an experience which includes a tremendous amount of knowledge and our excursion on Jewel was no exception.
James took great delight in sitting next to the skipper as we travelled from place to place and Ian answered all of the hundreds of questions with no sign of irritation.
I just cruised the deck and looked. Every now and then I would ask someone to explain something and James would leave his perch by the skipper occasionally to come and have a chat.
As far as filming excursions go it was unforgettable. You are going to love Stewart Island. We set a few cray pots on the way down the coast and retrieved them as we headed back towards Riverton four days later.
James and Darren's son Jackson had formed a pretty good bond even though Jackson was a good deal older. I guess you learn tolerance when you are an older brother. James thought Jackson was pretty cool because he is a very good spear fisherman. Both learned more in those few days than a classroom would teach them in a month.
I could never find the words to adequately describe this little charter in paradise but the footage and related shows will certainly help.
I said always expect the unexpected and just when we thought the surprises were over in came the cray pots and there slithered a couple of huge conger eels. A couple of pots had plenty of crays aboard so we did not go hungry but those congers made the boys day. If you want the adventure of a lifetime try Paradise Charters and travel around Stewart Island or Fiordland. Just look for the add in the New Zealand Fishing News directory.
The new series begins on March 11 and what a lineup. Stewart Island, the Hauraki Gulf, Northland, the Three Kings, South Westland, Southern Fiordland, the Northern Territory of Australia and much, much more.
Thanks for your ongoing support and I hope you enjoy a series of great adventures.