From the 1860s to the early 1900s an average of one shipwreck every five years was recorded on the New Zealand and Australian subantarctic islands. The survival rates from such wrecks were incredibly low due to the harsh conditions in the southern ocean.
With the purchase of the lighthouse steamer, Stella, in 1876, several small huts were built in which to store caches of supplies for castaways. Prior to that the islands were stocked with limited provisions by the New Zealand, Australian and British governments, which included the liberation of pigs and goats.
Stella Hut was constructed in 1880 to replace a castaway depot previously destroyed by fire. The hut was built by the crew of the Stella, under the command of Captain McKersie. The A-frame weatherboard hut was built either of timber found on the island from previous buildings and shipwrecks, or from supplies on board the Stella.
In 1887 the Derry Castle was wrecked on Enderby Island. They found Stella Hut to have been emptied of supplies, possibly by illegal sealers. They lived adjacent to the depot while they were building a punt which enabled them to relocate to the Erebus Cove depot where there were intact supplies.
The Stella Hut was used as a castaway depot until 1888 when the Sandy Bay boatshed was constructed to enable castaways to reach the supply depot at Erebus Cove. The boatshed was built as a direct result of the privations of the Derry Castle survivors.
- Dingwall P., Jones K. and Egerton, R. (eds.) (2009) In Care of The Southern Ocean - An archaeological and historical survey of the Auckland Islands (New Zealand Archaeological Monograph 27, 2009.
- Dougall, W. (1888) Far south : Stewart Island, The Snares, Auckland, Campbell, Antipodes and Bounty Islands (Invercargill: Southland Times Print)
- Fraser, C. (1986) Beyond the roaring forties : New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands (Government Printing Office).