Sailing north, Øksfjord is Hurtigruten's first port of call in the county of Finnmark. At above 70° we find ourselves in the true high north. To the southeast you can glimpse Norway’s fifth largest glacier, Øksfjordjøkulen (1,204 metres above sea level). This is the only glacier on mainland Norway to ‘calve’ directly into the sea, a uniquely arctic phenomenon. The district has a population of 500 and Øksfjord is the administrative centre for the municipality of Loppa. Fish processing plants and a shipyard tell us about an area dependent on outcome from the sea.
Traces from the Komsa culture, a Mesolithic culture of hunter-gatherers that existed 12,000 years ago, have been discovered here. These people inhabited an area that stretched from Øksfjord through Alta, eastern Finnmark and then in through the coastal areas of the White Sea in Russia. Trading began in 1814, and although fishing has always taken place here, it was the arrival of huge herring shoals during the 19th century that led to Øksfjord’s growth. Legend has it that, in 1860, a wealthy English hunter, Mr White, wanted to lease the hunting rights here. The Tromsø solicitor handling the affair did not have a very good grasp of the English language and sold the peninsula for 2,000 dollars, making it formally British property until 1890.
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