19th Century explorer's pipe found in Fiordland

The pipe is believed to be owned by explorer William Docherty Photo: Supplied via RNZ
The pipe is believed to be owned by explorer William Docherty Photo: Supplied via RNZ

A piece of Fiordland history has been found nestled on pebbly Docherty Beach.

A clay smoking pipe, believed to be owned by explorer William Docherty, was uncovered by nature guide, Richard Heyward, who was on a break from checking stoat traps.

"I thought it would be a good idea to check Docherty's beach as it is close to Cooper Island and I was wondering whether it would be a good place to take our Discovery Expedition passengers on future trips," he said.

But while there, he stumbled on the little clay pipe.

"I knew it was most likely Docherty's pipe, and he wouldn't have been pleased to have lost it as he lived a frugal existence prospecting for minerals."

Docherty arrived in the area in 1877, lived in Dusky Sound in solitary for almost 20 years while exploring the area.

The pipe featured the word 'Davidson' and 'Glasgow' on either side.

It was believed a Thomas Davidson was making pipes in Glasgow from the 1860s.

Glasgow was Docherty's home town, and he arrived in New Zealand in 1865.

Historic ranger, Pania Dalley, was amazed at the discovery.

"So often people don't realise the full significance of a find," she said.

"This is a piece of Fiordland history. Docherty was one of Dusky's longest serving European residents and we have very few physical relics from his existence during this time, as his old hut site is slowly being absorbed by the Fiordland bush."

The pipe will be on display at the 'Birds of a Feather' Conservation Ball at Walter Peak this Saturday.

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