Stewart Island seal colonies were almost annihilated between 1800 and
1820. While gangs from the ship Pegasus were sealing round
South Port in 1809, William Stewart drew a detailed chart of the
area. The chart was published in 1816. This was the first reference to
"Stewart's Island". Later, South Port was renamed to commemorate the
In 1826 a second William Stewart landed a group of boat-builders at
Pegasus. Despite many difficulties, they finally completed a
schooner, the Joseph Weller. This became the first vessel
recorded in the "New Zealand Shipping Register".
A brief tin-mining boom brought 200 miners to the area in the 1890s. There's
still evidence of their dams, water races and mine-shafts in the Tin Range.
Around the same time a fish freezer began operations. The small fishing
community at Pegasus continued, on and off, right through to the 1950s.
In the late 1970s kakapo, the ground-dwelling night parrot,
were found in the Tin Range. Predation by feral cats necessitated
capturing these endangered birds for relocation to Codfish Island, off
Stewart Island's west coast, and to other predator-free islands.
Today there's no tin-boom, or kakapo boom at Pegasus. Fishermen
working lobster boats in the rugged waters round South Cape shelter
there for the night. A few hunting parties and diving groups visit by
boat, but that is all - a wilderness in the south.