In June of this year I was fortunate to be invited on a trip to Dusky Sound, one of New Zealand’s wilder and more remote places – a place of historic richness and profound contrasts. Our task was to lay out a line of stoat traps around the coast of Long Island, which lies close to the mainland and provides a stepping stone for stoats and rats, assisting their attempts to re-invade the now largely predator-free Resolution Island.
The contrasts of this place became apparent almost from the outset of the trip – we traveled by boat, leaving the calm anchorage at the head of Doubtful Sound in the late afternoon, reaching the outer coast at nightfall to travel south to an overnight anchorage in Breaksea Sound. While the enveloping darkness hid the heaving state of the sea on that open coast, its contrast with the sheltered waters of the fiords were readily apparent, and I was able to photograph some of those differences over the next few days. The most graphic of these is the extent to which forest extends right down to the high tide line on the sheltered coasts within the fiords – in some places, the trunks of southern rata trees dipped into the water. By contrast, the forest on the outer coast is almost constantly battered by a wild mix of wind and salt, which in many places reduces it to a twisted low scrub.