Puysegur Point is a prominent headland on the south side of Preservation Inlet in the extreme south-western part of the South Island, lying some 90 miles west of the port of Bluff. It is permanently occupied by a few families and staff of the lighthouse and radiotelephone station. Present access is entirely by sea, via a landing point and road at Otago's Retreat. The adjoining coast and surrounding country is rugged and heavily forested. The climate of Puysegur Point is strongly influenced by the mountain ranges of the South Island. These deflect the prevailing westerly winds of middle latitudes so that they pass around Puysegur Point as a strong wind from the north-west. On the average, winds over 40 m.p.h. (gale force) occur on 100 days of the year, while on 14 of these days winds over 70 m.p.h. are experienced. On a few days winds over 100 m.p.h. have been recorded. Strong winds are usually from the north-west. The proximity of the mountain ranges results in a fairly substantial rainfall, the average annual total being around 90 in. Numerous wrecks have occurred in the vicinity, including that of the s.s. Waikare in Dusky Sound in 1910. Gold mining has been carried out in the district in the past and between 1894 and 1903 at least 9,317 ozs of gold were won from quartz lodes. An unknown amount of gold was also obtained from alluvial deposits on the coastal beaches near the point, and there seems little doubt that much still remains. The severe climate and difficulty of working will probably preclude economic gold-mining in the future. Coal is also present nearby but only in small quantities.
The name Puysegur was given by Jules de Blosseville, midshipman of La Coquille. In 1826 he published an account of the region, together with a map on which appears the name Puysegur, probably in honour of the French navigator M. de Puységur (1752–1809).
by Bryce Leslie Wood, M.SC., New Zealand Geological Survey, Dunedin.