Oil exploration nothing new
Stewart Island was purchased from its Maori owners in June 1864 for £6000.
The sale excluded Ruapuke and the Muttonbird Islands plus reserves at Lord's River, Port Adventure, The Neck, Port William and other places.
Modern oil exploration in Southland began with a seismic survey south of the South Island in 1969-70.
The drilling rig Penrod 74 was used to check potential oil deposits with the first of seven wells, Parara-1 in the Solander Basin, begun in November 1975 and reaching 3800 metres before being pronounced dry in February 1976. The Penrod 78 rig drilled two wells, Rakiura-1, spudded in on 11 October 1983 and Pukaki-1 on 22 November 1983.
The naming of Nightcaps is still disputed. Historian Herries Beattie said the name referred to the pointed peaks of the Takitimus which were often snow-capped, but an anecdote related by newspaper correspondent Sydney Stevens gives a different interpretation.
He said John Howell was leading a party overland from Riverton to Beaumont Station following up the Aparima River.
"One of the number remarked about the thin covering of fog on the Nobbies, two small hills adjoining Nightcaps. Captain Howell replied 'Oh, they have their nightcaps on'."
Stewart Island's answer to the Wizard of Christchurch was the Fluid Druid, Sam Sampson.
Sam looked every inch a druid, and the fluid, of which there was a lot, was sourced from the bar 143 paces from his home.
Sam and Billy the Bus were a team who introduced thousands of visitors to Stewart Island's special places, unique history and odd personalities. When he died in 2008 aged 65 the island lost one of its most eccentric characters.
About The South
15 Mahuri Rd,
Otatara, RD 9,
Phone-fax (03) 213 0404
The Southland Times