Long recognised for their rich biodiversity, the Subantarctic Islands are UNESCO World Heritage sites. This places them in a select group of only 180 natural sites that have been designated as ‘the most important and significant natural habitats' on the planet. They are also afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments and access to these islands is by permit only. On this expedition we offer you the unique chance to explore, photograph and understand these wonderful places in the company of knowledgeable and passionate guides.
Day 1: Queenstown
Guests should make their way to the designated hotel where we will spend the first night of the expedition. This evening there will be an informal get-together at the hotel for dinner; an excellent opportunity to meet fellow adventurers on your voyage and some of our expedition team.
Day 2: Port of Bluff
Today we enjoy breakfast in the hotel restaurant and have the morning free to explore Queenstown before returning to the hotel for lunch and departing for the Port of Bluff to embark your ship. You will have time to settle into your cabin and familarise yourself with the ship; we will also take the opportunity to conduct a number of safety briefings. You are invited to join the expedition team in the Observation Lounge and up on the Observation Deck as we set our course to The Snares and our adventure begins.
Day 3: The Snares – North East Island
North East Island is the largest of The Snares and staggeringly, this
one island is claimed by some to be home to more nesting seabirds than
all of the British Isles together. Zodiac cruising the rugged
coastline we learn how the islands got their name and encounter Snares
Crested Penguins, Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross on the imposing
cliffs. We are also likely to encounter Antarctic Terns, White-fronted
Terns, Red-billed Gulls, Tomtits and Fernbirds.
Day 4: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island
Named for the same distinguished shipping family as our own vessel
and one of the most beautiful islands in the group, this is a great
birding location and a chance to see everything from the famous
Southern Royal Albatross and Northern Giant Petrel to parakeets,
Bellbirds and the endemic shag, teal and snipe. Sandy Bay is one of
three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands for the rare Hooker’s,
or New Zealand, Sea Lion.
Day 5: Auckland Islands – Carnley Harbour
These islands have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by. Loaded
in human history, they harbour tales of castaways, bullion and
Coastwatchers through to today’s scientific visitors. Today we land in
Carnley Harbour and, if weather and sea conditions permit, visit the
Shy Mollymawk colony at South West Cape or, if weather is not
suitable, we will select one of a number of other sites available to
Day 6: At Sea
As we make our way through an area known as the Furious Fifties in
the tumultuous Southern Ocean, we will learn more about the flora and
fauna as we prepare for our arrival at Macquarie Island. En route
there are great birding opportunities which may include the Wandering
Albatross, Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Light-mantled
Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Northern
and Southern Giant Petrel, Sooty Shearwater and Little Shearwater. We
will endeavour to spot the Fairy Prion, Fulmar Prion and Antarctic
Prion – never an easy task – but we should get some great views. Other
species to be on the lookout for include the Soft-plumaged Petrel,
Mottled Petrel, White-headed Petrel, Grey-faced Petrel, White-chinned
Petrel, Grey-backed Storm-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel and the
Days 7 to 8: Macquarie Island
Described by one Australian explorer as “One of the wonder spots of
the world” this is the only place in the world where the beautiful
Royal Penguin breeds. Three other species of penguins, the King,
Gentoo and Rockhopper also breed here. 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 immersed in a tumult of chattering, feeding chicks; territorial
disputes; petty pilfering and courtship displays. This all happens
amongst the hundreds of Southern Elephant Seals lolling on the beaches
and dunes. On arrival we meet with scientists and Park Rangers based
here who will accompany us on all our landings.
Day 9: At Sea
We head north from Macquarie Island through waters rich in seabirds
towards Campbell Island. We invite you to join the captain on the
bridge, to keep a keen lookout for birds and for whales. Today there
will also be briefings and lectures on Campbell Island in preparation
for our visit there.
Days 10: Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbour
We have a full day exploring the island by foot taking in the panorama
of rocky islets and sea stacks; once the lonely preserve of settlers
and seal hunters and now returned to nature. Enjoy an easy walk to the
nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross at Col Lyall or walk
across the hills to Northwest Bay and see the strange and beautiful
megaherbs on the hills. These huge pink and yellow wild flowers have
adapted well to the harsh conditions. We also seek out other wildlife
such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and, on
the beaches beyond, young male sea lions testing their strength.
Day 11: At Sea
At sea en route to the Port of Bluff, take the opportunity to relax
and reflect on an amazing experience. We will recap the highlights of
our expedition and enjoy a farewell dinner tonight as we complete the
last few miles of our journey.
Day 12: Invercargill
Early this morning we will arrive in the Port of Bluff. After a final breakfast we bid farewell to our fellow voyagers and take a complimentary coach transfer to either Invercargill or Queenstown Airports. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel until after midday from Invercargill and after 3pm from Queenstown. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed. Landings at the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand are by permit only as administered by the Government of New Zealand. No landings are permitted at The Snares.