Western Pacific Odyssey: New Zealand to Japan

South Pacific

The Complete WESTERN PACIFIC ODYSSEY RETURNS - Including Bonin Islands! Known in birding circles simply as the 'WPO', this expedition incorporates many of the key birding areas in the South West Pacific. One of the 'must do' expeditions for any birder because of its opportunities to see some of the rarest pelagic seabirds in the world, plus many island endemics. But it is not just for 'birders'. The cetacean list can only be described as outstanding. And if you ever tire of birding or cetacean watching then there are plenty of options for snorkelling, swimming and relaxing!

  • Unique birdlife on remote islands
  • Explore remote and Pristine tropical islands
  • Friendly and welcoming villagers
  • Incredible marine life, whales, dophins and more
  • snorkelling and beachcombing opportunities
After departing the Port of Tauranga in New Zealand, we sail for the rich waters of the Hauraki Gulf where there are numerous speciality seabirds, including the recently discovered New Zealand Storm-petrel. From there it's northward to Norfolk Island. Next stop is New Caledonia where we search for the amazing Kagu and other endemic bird species in the Parc Provincial de la Rivière Bleue.

We then spend six exciting days in the Solomon Islands birding on Nendö, Santa Ana, Makira, Guadalcanal (Mt Austin), Tetepare and Kolombangara, before cruising across the New Britain Trench, an area known to be extremely rich in cetaceans. As we sail along the coasts of Bougainville and New Ireland, we will look for two rarely seen seabirds: Heinroth's Shearwater and the critically endangered Beck's Petrel which was only rediscovered in 2007.

Next stop is Truk Island (Federated States of Micronesia) for some more intensive birding. We will then set a course for the Bonin Islands south of Japan; our route will take us to Chichi-jima, the largest island in the archipelago. We will then continue north to Torishima Island (where we hope to get great views of the Short-tailed Albatross) before we arrive at our last island destination of the voyage, Hachijō-jima, where we will look for the last specialities of the expedition. Our voyage will then conclude at the Port of Yokohama in Japan.

This expedition is accompanied by some of the best pelagic birding guides in the world who have extensive experience of the seabirds of the West Pacific and have visited the islands we will be landing on multiple times. Birding starts at dawn and finishes at sundown. Our guides are there throughout the day to assist you and the 'reading of the bird list' each evening is legendary for its detail and discussion. This is one expedition you can't afford to miss!

Stewart's Take

A ‘must do' expedition for any birder or those interested in remote islands!


The Complete WESTERN PACIFIC ODYSSEY RETURNS - Including Bonin Islands! Known in birding circles simply as the 'WPO', this expedition incorporates many of the key birding areas in the South West Pacific. One of the 'must do' expeditions for any birder because of its opportunities to see some of the rarest pelagic seabirds in the world, plus many island endemics. But it is not just for 'birders'. The cetacean list can only be described as outstanding. And if you ever tire of birding or cetacean watching then there are plenty of options for snorkelling, swimming and relaxing!
Day 1: Tauranga, New Zealand Arrive in Tauranga and transfer to the ship. Settle into your cabin and join your expedition team and captain for a welcome on board. Day 2: Hauraki Gulf Our seabirding will start in the Hauraki Gulf where we will look for the critically endangered New Zealand Storm-Petrel as well as Little Penguin, Grey Ternlet, Buller’s, Fluttering and Little Shearwaters and Grey-faced and Black Petrels. Days 3 to 4: At Sea En route to Norfolk Island, we have a good chance of finding Gould’s, Black-winged, Kermadec, White-necked and Grey-faced Petrels, plus Wedge-tailed and Short-tailed Shearwaters. Day 5: Norfolk Island After clearing Australian Customs, we plan to visit Norfolk Island’s remnant forest, home to four endemics – the Norfolk Island Parakeet, Norfolk Gerygone, Norfolk Robin and Slender-billed White-eye. Day 6: At Sea At sea on a northward course, we cross a large underwater seamount, a productive area for seabirds including Tahiti, Collared, White-necked, Providence and Kermadec Petrels. Day 7: New Caledonia We visit the Parc de la Rivière Bleue National Park where we will search for the endemics including the incomparable Kagu and highly range-restricted Crow Honeyeater. Other birds could include New Caledonian Goshawk, Horned and New Caledonian Parakeets, New Caledonian Imperial Pigeon, Southern Melanesian and New Caledonian Cuckoo-shrikes, Yellow-bellied Robin and Red-throated Parrotfinch. Day 8: New Caledonia and At Sea This morning on the forested slopes of Mount Koghi we will be looking for New Caledonian Goshawk, South Melanesian Cuckooshrike, Streaked Fantail, Southern Shrikebill, New Caledonian Crow and New Caledonian Grassbird. We then plan to sail around the southern tip of New Caledonia looking for the New Caledonian Storm-petrel. This intriguing bird was first found on this expedition in 2008 and has been seen several times since. Although seemingly closely related to New Zealand Storm-petrel, there are a number of important differences and it is now considered a long-lost species collected in Samoa more than 200 years ago, and not seen since! Days 9 to 10: At Sea Enjoy leisurely days at sea, new seabirds could include Polynesian Storm-petrel, Tropical Shearwater, Providence Petrel, Vanuatu Petrel, Collared Petrel and Tahiti Petrel. Day 11: Nendö – Temotu Province The largest of the Santa Cruz Islands, Nendö has several localised endemics, during our time ashore we hope to find Temotu Whistler, Sanford’s White-eye and Santa Cruz White-eye. Other possibilities include Red-bellied Fruit-dove, Pacific Imperial-pigeon and Cardinal Myzomela. Day 12: Santa Ana, Solomon Islands Santa Ana is one of the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomon Islands archipelago and has a distinctive avifauna. We can expect birds such as Silver-capped Fruit-dove mixed with Makiran endemics. Santa Ana is home to an endemic and highly distinctive subspecies of Rufous Fantail, and we will also be looking for Sanford’s (Solomon) Sea-eagle and Oriole Whistler. Day 13: Anuta Island in the Makira Group Anuta is a small inshore island on the western side of Makira Island. Birding treasures that we can expect to see including the White-headed Fruit-dove, Chestnut-bellied Imperial pigeon, Makira Honeyeater (San Cristobal Melidectes), San Cristobal Starling, Makira Flycatcher, Makira Cicadabird, White-collared Monarch, Sooty Myzomela and Mottled Flowerpecker. Other species could include Red-knobbed and Island Imperial-pigeon, Brahminy Kite, Pied Goshawk and Pacific Baza. We will also enjoy the local hospitality. Day 14: Honiara, Guadalcanal We will anchor off Honiara and depart before dawn for Mount Austin. The birding here is exceptional and the specialities we could see include Ultramarine Kingfisher, Solomons Cuckooshrike, Chestnut-bellied Monarch, Steel-blue Flycatcher, Midget Flowerpecker, Brown-winged Starling and Black-headed Myzomela. There should also be numbers of parrots and pigeons, including the Yellow-bibbed Lory, Ducorps’ Cockatoo and Red-knobbed Imperial-pigeon. Day 15: Tetepare Island Tetepare is a community run reserve located in the New Georgia islands. There are a number of new Solomon endemics to look for here including the highly localised Dark-eyed White-eye. Other possibilities include Melanesian Scrubfowl, Claret-breasted Fruit-dove, Island Imperial-pigeon, Buff-headed Coucal, Crimson-rumped Myzomela, Cockerell’s Fantail and Kolombangara Monarch. If we are extremely fortunate, both Nicobar Pigeon and Solomons Nightjar may be seen. Day 16: Kolombangara Island We intend to head into the hills to visit the Imbu Rano Conservation Area to explore dense upland forest. We hope to see the spectacular Sanford’s (Solomon) Sea-eagle, Cardinal, Duchess and Meek’s Lorikeets, White-capped Monarch, Crimson-rumped Myzomela, Ducorps’ Cockatoo and Metallic and Singing Starling. We may also look for the elusive Roviana Rail as we leave the reserve and will be scanning the cetacean-rich seas for whales and dolphins. Birders will also want to keep a lookout for Heinroth’s Shearwater. Day 17: Off the coast of Bougainville Today we are at sea off Bougainville and hope to see Heinroth’s Shearwater. These waters are also great for cetaceans including Sperm Whale, False Killer Whale and Fraser’s Dolphin. Day 18: Off the coast of New Ireland Today we cruise along the coast of New Ireland, where our target is the critically endangered and poorly known Beck’s Petrel with an additional chance for spotting the Heinroth’s Shearwater. Cetaceans to look for include Melon-headed Whale, Dwarf and Pygmy Sperm Whales and Orca. Days 19 to 20: At Sea Crossing the Equator we will be on the lookout for the following species: Bulwer’s Petrel, Tropical Shearwater, White-tailed Tropicbird and the Sooty Tern. Days 21 to 22: Caroline Islands On Weno Island we hope to find Purple-capped Fruit-dove, Oceanic Flycatcher, Caroline Reed Warbler, Caroline Islands Swiftlet, Caroline Islands White-eye, Micronesian Myzomela and Micronesian Starling. There may also be an optional excursion to Tol South to look for the endemic Teardop (or Great Truk) White-eye and Chuuk Monarch. Days 23 to 26: At Sea The birding can be quiet but as we head northwards, new species could include Matsudaira’s Storm-petrel, Bonin Petrel as well as Bannerman’s and Christmas Shearwaters. As we approach the Bonin Islands, we stand a good chance of finding Humpback Whales. Day 27: Chichi-jima Island After clearing into Japan at the largest of the Bonin Islands, Chichi-jima, we will looking for Japanese Bush Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Brown-eared Bulbul and Japanese White-eye. This afternoon we will look for the critically endangered Bryan’s Shearwater, this species is only known to breed on a small islet off Chichijima. We should also see good numbers of Bannerman’s Shearwaters. Day 28: At Sea Seabird possibilities today could include the Tristram’s Storm-petrel, Bonin Petrel and Bannerman’s Shearwater. Day 29: Torishima Island Landings are not permitted but we cruise offshore and hope to find Short-tailed Albatross. Other species could include Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses, Streaked Shearwater, Tristram’s and Matsudaira’s Storm-petrels. Day 30: Hachijō-jima Island Located in the Izu Islands archipelago, Hachijo-jima is home to the endemic Izu Thrush, Ijima’s Leaf-warbler and Owston’s Tit. We will also look for Japanese Wood Pigeon, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Japanese (Izu) Robin and Japanese Murrelet. Day 31: Yokohama, Japan After breakfast and Japanese arrival formalities, you disembark the ship and board a complimentary transfer to Yokohama railway station. Enquire for a full itinerary.

Scrolling is disabled on map, please click to enable.

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 $600 per person for visits to 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.
Booking Request
Back To Top

Expeditions Online Newsletter

Sign up to be an Expeditions Online insider and receive info on exclusive deals, discounts and more!