Explore a pristine sub-tropical wilderness

Kermadecs - Land of Dreams: Spirit of Enderby

South Pacific

Visitors are extremely rare to New Zealand's subtropical Kermadec Islands. The islands are all summits of huge undersea volcanoes, and are home to subtropical and temperate plant, bird and marine species. Snorkel the underwater world of the Marine Reserve, explore the islands by foot, and Zodiac cruise the ragged coastline. A pristine subtropical archipelago surrounded by one of New Zealand's largest marine reserves, the remote Kermadec Islands/ Rangitāhua are of such international conservation significance they require a special permit to visit

  • Explore the seldom-seen Kermadec archipelago with its unique assemblage of subtropical and temperate plant, bird and marine species
  • Amazing and unique snorkelling opportunities
  • See unique bird species on truly remote islands
  • Great opportunities to observe marine life
Lying 1,000-kilometres north-east of New Zealand, about half way to Tonga and well off the main shipping routes, few people know, or have even heard of, this 2,500-kilometre long island chain of around 80 undersea volcanoes rising some 8,000-metres from the Kermadec Ridge, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

There are four main islands within the Kermadec Group where a unique assemblage of subtropical and temperate plant, bird and marine species flourish uninterrupted, testimony to the process of evolution arising from climate and isolation.

Polynesians were the first to settle these islands, possibly as early as the 10th Century, but certainly by the 14th Century as well as using them as staging posts for voyages to New Zealand. However, when Europeans discovered them in 1788, they were uninhabited.

Raoul Island, the largest in the group, was settled by the Bell family in 1878 who would live there until 1914. While other settlers would come and go, permanent settlement was discouraged after 1939, the New Zealand Government has maintained a weather station on the island since 1938.

Introduced plants and animals left behind by the settlers have had a significant impact on the island's ecosystem, but now an ambitious conservation program is attempting to restore Raoul Island to its original splendor. The goats, cats and rats have been removed and many introduced plants had been controlled by Raoul Island Rangers who spent 12 months on the island. Bird numbers and diversity are increasing and endemic plants are recovering, testimony to what can be achieved with vision and hard work.

An extensive 745,000-hectare Marine Reserve protects the unique marine ecosystem that surrounds these islands. With virtually no disturbance (certainly no fishing and only a handful of divers each year) the diving and snorkelling can only be described as amazing and unique. As with the terrestrial species there is both subtropical and temperate species to be encountered.

Stewart's Take

This is an exceptional and rare expedition, truly off-the-beaten-track!

Overview

Visitors are extremely rare to New Zealand's subtropical Kermadec Islands. The islands are all summits of huge undersea volcanoes, and are home to subtropical and temperate plant, bird and marine species. Snorkel the underwater world of the Marine Reserve, explore the islands by foot, and Zodiac cruise the ragged coastline. A pristine subtropical archipelago surrounded by one of New Zealand's largest marine reserves, the remote Kermadec Islands/ Rangitāhua are of such international conservation significance they require a special permit to visit.
Day 1: Tauranga Make your way to a central city meeting point (Reporting times and the departure time of the transfer will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The township of Tauranga is situated on the east coast of the North Island in the Bay of Plenty. The bay was given its name by Captain James Cook while circumnavigating New Zealand in 1769; he was alluding to the region’s welcoming people and abundant resources. Nothing has changed. The captain and expedition team will be waiting for your arrival at the ship to greet you and show you to your cabin. You will have the opportunity to unpack before exploring the ship and meeting other expeditioners, there will also be formal introductions to the team followed by safety briefings. Join us on deck this evening as we depart the Port of Tauranga and make our way past the conical headland of Mount Maunganui before setting a course north-east across the Bay of Plenty. Day 2: At Sea A day at sea is a chance to relax. Do some reading in the bar/library, birding from the bridge, our open bridge policy means you can join the captain and crew here anytime, or head out on the deck and enjoy some sunshine. We will schedule a series of lectures, videos and briefings to prepare us for our visit to the Kermadecs. For the keen birders, we will be sailing across deep waters – prime Pterodroma Petrel country and we are likely to see an impressive variety of these birds. We are likely to encounter Black-winged, White-necked, Kermadec and Cook’s Petrel and there is always the chance of something really rare. For example past expeditions have recorded Providence and Phoenix Petrels in this area. If viewing conditions are favourable we may also see Sperm Whale and the elusive Cuvier’s Beaked Whale. Day 3: L’Esperance Rock, Curtis and Cheeseman Islands Today we continue our journey northwards, arriving in the afternoon at the southernmost island in the group L’Esperance Rock. Later we will visit Curtis and nearby Cheeseman Islands. If the weather and sea conditions are suitable we will enjoy a Zodiac cruise as no landings are permitted. All of these islands are havens for breeding seabirds and we are likely to encounter impressive numbers as we cruise offshore. In addition to the more common species, we will be on the lookout for White-bellied Storm-Petrel and the Kermadec White-faced Storm-Petrel. We are also likely to encounter some tropical seabirds that occur nowhere else in New Zealand, such as Masked Booby, Red-tailed Tropicbird, and Black Noddy. The distinct local species of Bottlenose Dolphin often accompanies us as we approach these islands. Days 4 to 7: Raoul Island We have four days scheduled for activities at Raoul Island, including options for snorkelling and hikes ashore. The weather and sea conditions will dictate our activities to a certain extent and the Expedition Leader will take these into consideration when planning the daily programme. The seas surrounding the Kermadecs are the only true example of subtropical waters in New Zealand, and are sufficiently distant from the mainland to have escaped heavy commercial fishing. The extensive Marine Reserve ensures added protection and guarantees some of the best snorkelling in the South Pacific. Galapagos Sharks and large, inquisitive Spotted Black Grouper have been seen on previous expeditions. During our time at Raoul Island we will also cruise the Meyer Islets by Zodiac to experience the seabirds returning to the Islets in the evenings. Many of these birds are endemic, including the Kermadec Petrel, the White-napped Petrel, and the Kermadec species of the Little Shearwater. On shore there is the opportunity to observe the endemic Kermadec Red-crowned Parakeet and it is also one of the easiest places to see Spotless Crakes. We should also get good views of Black Noddy, Grey Ternlet, White Tern and the beautiful Red-tailed Tropicbird. There is much to see on Raoul Island, and one of the best ways to explore and experience this subtropical paradise is on one of the many walking tracks. Depending on the weather there will be several opportunities to explore the island by foot on walks catering to all fitness levels. Day 8: Macauley Island We arrive at Macauley Island early in the morning. The original forest cover was destroyed by goats and since their removal in the 1970s the vegetation is slowly recovering. Landings are not permitted on this island so we will Zodiac cruise if sea conditions are suitable. Days 9 to 10: At Sea These days present an opportunity to catch your breath after our activities at Raoul and Macauley Islands. Our staff will be offering lectures and further presentations on the islands and some of the conservation issues surrounding them. Day 11: Tauranga Our vessel will berth in Tauranga this morning. Enjoy breakfast on board and a last minute opportunity to bid farewell to your expedition team before disembarking and boarding our complimentary coach transfer to the central city or local airport. Our adventure ends but memories will last long beyond this. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel from Tauranga until after midday today. 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. This expedition offers varied activities and excursions, your interest will determine which of these you wish to partake in, please note that some activities and excursions will run at similar times and it will therefore not be possible to participate in both, no refund of excursions and missed landings will be available due to this.

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Expedition Vessel: M/V Spirit of Enderby

Spirit of Enderby expedition ship

The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition cruising. She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2012 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins, approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top New Zealand and Australian chefs. The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.

For full information about this vessel click here:

Included Pre/Post cruise transfers, all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions.
Excluded All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance. Sub-Antarctic island landing fees.
Additional Charges - Landing Fees of $375 per person for visits to these protected islands. These will be added during the booking process. Deposits - Reservations require a deposit of 25% at the time you receive a booking confirmation from Expeditions Online. A payment link will be sent to you and this may be paid by major credit card. Bookings within 120 days of departure require full payment. Final Payments - Balances are due 120 days prior to departure. Cancellations - All requests for cancellation must be received in writing to Expeditions Online. Cancellations received 180 days or more prior to departure, are refunded less a $US750.00 per person administration fee. For cancellations received within 179 and 121 days of the embarkation date the full deposit will be forfeited. If cancellation occurs within 120 days prior to the departure date the total price is forfeited. If cancellation occurs within 90 days and full payment has not yet been received, the total price will still apply and any unpaid monies are due immediately. We strongly recommend that you obtain adequate trip cancellation insurance. Booking Terms - Please read carefully the General Booking Conditions for Expeditions Online. This voyage is operated by Heritage Expeditions and you additionally travel under their terms and conditions as the operator as well as of the Shipping Company/transport carrier. Details will be forwarded to you at the time of booking.
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