New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands - 2008

Chapter 15. Dusky Sound

We entered the long fjord which creates Dusky Sound in early morning and the rain was already misting down from the low-hanging clouds. The tops of the walls forming the fjord were enveloped in the white and gray shawls of cloud, but the beauty was not obscured. The high mountain walls were slick and black and the whole view became a striking black and white scene with the clouds, the dark waters, the grey-white sky, and jet-black granite surrounding the whole scene. The ship cruised slowly through the narrow passage and we all were struck by the quiet beauty around us. As we tooled around the Sound, some of the passengers were lucky enough to see NZ fur seals and crested fjordland penguins on the shoreline and in the water. These animals are under the protection of DOC too. However, Kay and I were not on a Zodiac where these creatures were spotted. We were so thoroughly and heavily rained on that we saw a virtual white- out between the rain and the clouds. Just as we had accepted this limited palette in the scene, we were told to get ready for an unexpected disembarkation!

Astronomer Point

Now the world became infused with wet and shiny greens. We were landing on shore among huge trees and low bushes, all of them drip, drip, dripping. This is another DOC site associated with Capt. Cook. During the first of his voyages to the South Seas, he was interested in the Transit of Venus and had been sent to observe it from Tahiti. Observations were also being made at the time at other points on the globe. A Transit of Venus occurs when the planet Venus passes between Earth and the Sun, obscuring a small portion of the solar disk. A transit usually lasts around 6 hours or so and before the space age these observations were very important in aiding scientists in determining the distance between Earth and the Sun exactly. Transits are among the rarest of predictable astronomical events, occurring approximately every 243 years. Capt. Cook was aboard the Resolute during this voyage and he stopped in Dusky Sound to make astronomical observations connected with the Transit of Venus

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