Day 1: Invercargill
New Zealand’s southernmost city and rich in Scottish history. Grab any last-minute luxuries before meeting your fellow expeditioners for an informal get-together over dinner.
Day 2: Depart Port of Bluff
Enjoy a visit to the museum to view the Subantarctic display before transferring to the port where you board the Spirit of Enderby. The Captain and Expedition Staff welcome you on board and our adventure begins.
Day 3: Snares Islands
We Zodiac cruise the jagged coastline searching for a number of the endemic species known to breed here. The Bullers Albatross nests only here and on the Solander Islands but doesn’t come to nest until the new year; we may be lucky to encounter them offshore. In the flowering Olearia forests draping the hillsides we will see the tomtit and fernbird. It is claimed that the island is home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles combined. Among those that we will see are Sooty Shearwaters, the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, Cape Pigeons, Antarctic and Whitefronted Terns.
Day 4: Enderby Island
Named for the same distinguished shipping family as our own vessel and one of the most beautiful islands in the group, if not the world, this is a great birding location and a chance to see everything from the famous Southern Royal Albatross and Northern Giant Petrel, to shags, teal, parakeets, bellbirds and the rare Subantarctic Snipe. On Derrycastle reef we may see migratory waders such as the Bar-tailed Godwit and Turnstone. Sandy Bay is one of just three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands for the rare Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion.
Day 5: Carnley Harbour
These islands have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by; loaded in human history, they harbour tales of castaways and coastwatchers. We land here and may see the New Zealand Falcon as we climb to a Shy Mollymawk colony and an area where the Wandering Albatross nest. With an island named disappointment and a mountain called the Tower of Babel this unique archipelago has to be seen to be believed.
Day 6: At Sea
Take the chance to learn more about the biology and history of the islands and the tumultuous Southern Ocean through lectures with our experts. Crossing the confluence of warmer and cooler waters at the Subantarctic Convergence we can expect the pelagic birdlife to be abundant, including Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, Diving Petrel and many more species besides.
Days 7 to 8: Macquarie Island
The only place in the world where the beautiful Royal Penguin breeds, this remote outpost supports a breathtaking concentration of wildlife. You will never forget your first experience of a noisy ‘penguin city’, where the dapper inhabitants show no fear of their strange visitors and where you will be witness to a thousand chattering, feeding chicks; territorial disputes; petty pilfering and courtship displays. King Penguins are also found in large numbers, as are Gentoo and Rockhopper. We meet with Park Rangers and seek out the thousands of Elephant Seals lolling on the beaches and along the coast, Redpolls and Imperial Shag can often be spotted.
Day 9: At Sea
There will be many opportunities to spot wildlife and we will be keeping a keen lookout for cetaceans, albatross and petrels; relax in the ship’s bar or catch up on your reading in the library.
Day 10: Campbell Island
We drop anchor in Perseverance Harbour, an occasional refuge for calving Southern Right Whales. Walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross or walk to Northwest Bay and experience the strange and beautiful ‘mega herbs’ growing on the hills, huge wildflowers that have adapted to the harsh conditions, with unusual colourings. Hike the beautifully-named Mt. Honey for its dramatic views and take advantage of some great birding and photographic opportunities; we should see the New Zealand Pipit, Antarctic Tern, Dunnock, Campbell Island Shag, Southern Skua, and hopefully the elusive Campbell Island Snipe.
Day 11: At Sea
Join us on the bridge, where we keep a keen lookout for species commonly seen in this area: Black-browed Albatross, Campbell Island Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Sooty Shearwater and Little Shearwater. There should be plenty of petrels and sometimes the Fairy Prion, Fulmar Prion and Antarctic Prion show up together.
Day 12: Antipodes Island
One of the most isolated, least known and rugged of the Subantarctic Islands; landings are not permitted, so we cruise along the coast looking for the endemic Antipodes Island and Reischek’s Parakeet. We may also see the Antipodes subspecies of the New Zealand Pipit, and with half the world population of Erect-crested Penguins here, we should encounter one or two! As well as Antarctic Terns and Kelp Gulls.
Day 13: The Bounty Islands
Incongruously-named, these are inhospitable granite islets lashed by the Southern Ocean. Discovered by Captain Bligh just months before the infamous mutiny, they are home to thousands of Salvins Albatross, Erect-crested Penguins, Fulmar Prions and the endemic Bounty Island Shag, the world’s rarest. At sea we should spot Wandering Albatross species, Northern Royal Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Broad-billed Prion, White-chinned Petrel and Black-bellied Storm Petrels as well as Wilson’s Storm Petrel.
Day 14: Pyramid Rock
With further excellent pelagic birding we look out for the Chatham Island Petrel and also the very rare Chatham Island Taiko or Magenta Petrel. Arriving at the spectacular Pyramid Rock we find the only breeding place of the Chatham Island Albatross.
Day 15: South East Island (Rangatira)
One of the world’s greatest nature reserves and home to the endangered Shore Plover and Chatham Island Oystercatcher. Keeping our eyes peeled for the Pitt Island Shag and ears open for the unusual song of the Tui, we also visit the Mangere Islands where the endemic Black Robin was rescued from a decimated population of only six birds.
Day 16: Chatham Islands
Dropping anchor at Waitangi we might see the endemic Chatham Island Shag on the rocks as we land. Personally escorted by local guides to the Tuku Reserve, we enjoy a bush walk in the hope of seeing the Chatham Island Warbler and Chatham Island Pigeon.
Days 17 to 18: At Sea
Enroute to Dunedin we will cross the Chatham Rise: a shallow underwater extension of New Zealand’s south island that once (millions of years ago) formed dry land all the way to the Chathams. Nutrient-rich waters from the south mix with warm northern waters and there is an overlap between northern pelagic species and birds from southern latitudes. This is a good time to be out on deck. We can expect Royal Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Westland Black Petrel, Cook’s Petrel and much more.
Day 19: Port of Otago, Dunedin
Our adventure ends with safe harbour at the historic Port of Otago. We bid farewell to our fellow voyagers, to enjoy a transfer to the city or airport and take memories that will last long beyond flights home.
Landings at the SubAntarctic Islands are by permit only as administered by the governments of New Zealand and Australia. No landings are permitted at Snares, Antipodes and Bounty Islands and South East in the Chatham Island group.
Heritage Expeditions is committed to providing the highest quality natural history expeditions and specialise in remote regions and difficult to see species. As part of our expeditions we have for many years used the practice of chumming and/or oiling to give people the opportunity to see species that they are unlikely to see otherwise or appreciate aspects of seabird ecology such as impacts from interactions with fishing vessels. Heritage Expeditions believes that chumming has an important part to play in a successful seabird watching expedition but it is a tool which is used with moderation and always for a specific purpose.
Circumstances may be encountered during our voyage which will make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. These circumstances include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed during the voyage.