trip
NEW Trip – Dolpo Crystal Mountain to Mustang TraverseView Trip Details

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17 Days$15250USD

Activities
  • 15 days expedition cruising
Accommodation
  • 1 night hotel
  • 15 nights aboard Heritage Adventurer
Meals
  • 16 Dinners
  • 15 Lunches
  • 16 Breakfasts
1
Discovery and Cruising
 
 

Trip highlights


  • Wildlife rich Sub Antarctic islands including The Snares, Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie
  • Royal, King, Gentoo Rockhopper penguins, whales and seals
  • Vast array of sea birds including the famous Southern Royal Albatross and Northern Giant Petrel

This expedition has huge appeal to pelagic enthusiasts, penguin fanatics and those interested in island endemics. The islands occupy the tempestuous latitudes of the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties, but they are also known as the Albatross Latitudes and with good reason. Ten of the world's albatross species breed in the region; five of them nowhere else but here! In fact, this zone, where the air is never still, hosts the most diverse collection of seabirds in the world. More than 40 species breed here - that is at least 11 per cent of the entire world's seabird population. With the exception of the Chathams, the islands are all designated UNESCO World Heritage sites and are afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments, so passage to their shores is not granted lightly. There are also islands that we visit within the Chatham Islands' Archipelago with similar status and protection.

Trip Code: BDU

Arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand’s world famous alpine resort town. 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.

Meals:  D

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.

Meals:  B,L,D

North East Island is the largest of the Snares, the first group of Sub-Antarctic Islands that we visit. This one island is home to more nesting seabirds than in all of the British Isles. We arrive early in the morning, and as landings are not permitted we will cruise along the sheltered eastern side by Zodiac. Snares Crested Penguins are plentiful around the coast, as are the Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross that nest here later in the season. Cruising in the sheltered bays, we should see the endemic Tomtit and Fernbird. And since an estimated 60 million Antarctic Terns, White-fronted Terns and Red-billed Gulls nest among the Snares, we are quite likely to spot a few. Mottled Petrel, Diving Petrel and Broad-billed Prion are all also in the vicinity.

Meals:  B,L,D

The Auckland Islands, one of the largest of the Subantarctic groups of islands, have a most colourful history of discovery and attempted settlement. Forested by gnarled and windswept Rata, Enderby is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Sub-Antarctic islands. It has a low plateau of scrubland and cushion bog. We will enjoy the extensive Bulbinella rossii fields, the regenerating patches of Anisotome latifolia and the red and white gentians. The island enjoys a much milder climate than most Sub-Antarctic Islands because of its location. It is also home to the rare Hooker’s Sea Lion, which breed each year on the beach at Sandy Bay. In the forest behind the beach we find Bellbirds, Red-crowned Parakeets and the friendly Tomtits. Yellow-eyed Penguins also nest in the forest and under the tangled divaricated shrub Myrsine divaricata. You can see them as they travel backwards and forwards across the beach to their nests, especially in the evenings. On the more open country beyond the Rata forest we find nesting Royal Albatross and the endemic Auckland Island Dotterel. There is also a good chance of seeing the endemic flightless Teal at Derrycastle Reef as we explore this island. On shore there will be several options, some longer walks, some shorter walks and time to spend just sitting and enjoying the wildlife. The walking is relatively easy, a board walk traverses the island to the dramatic western cliffs from there we follow the coast on the circumnavigation of the island.

Meals:  B,L,D

At sea we will have a series of lectures supported by videos of the biology and history of the Sub-Antarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean. The Sub-Antarctic Convergence zone is very close to the area we will sail through, so we expect the bird life to reflect this as we approach Macquarie Island. Birds we may spot 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. There are also many species of Petrel to be on the look-out for including the Soft-plumaged Petrel, Mottled Petrel, White-headed Petrel, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Black-bellied Storm Petrel and Common Diving Petrel.

Meals:  B,L,D

Macquarie Island, Australia’s prized Subantarctic possession, is a small but impressive sliver of land supporting one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Hemisphere. Millions of penguins of four different species - King, Rockhopper, Gentoo and the endemic Royal – breed here. We plan to spend two days observing the best wildlife areas on the Island and visiting the Australian scientific base where Tasmanian Park Rangers will take us on a tour of the station and nearby areas. The King Penguin rookery at Lusitania Bay is spectacular. A welcoming committee will likely porpoise around our Zodiacs as a quarter of a million King Penguins stand at attention on shore. In the centre of the rookery, rusting condensers are grim reminders of a time when scores of penguins were slaughtered for their oil. Now their offspring have reclaimed this territory. At Sandy Bay, a Royal Penguin rookery teems with feisty little birds trotting back and forth, golden head plumes bobbing as they march to and from the shore. All 3 million of the world’s Royal Penguins breed on Macquarie Island. Large groups of Elephant Seals slumber on the sandy beaches and in the tussock grass further inland. These giant, blubbery creatures barely acknowledge our presence, lying in groups of intertwined bodies, undergoing their annual moult. Younger bulls spar in the shallow water, preparing for their mature years when they will look after their own harems. Other wildlife includes Fur Seals, four species of nesting Albatross – Wandering, Black-browed, Greyheaded and Light-mantled Sooty – as well as many other species of bird. Macquarie Island is the single richest concentration of wildlife on our voyage, so we will aim to fit in as much as possible.

Meals:  B,L,D

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.

Meals:  B,L,D

Campbell Island is a place of rugged scenery and abundant wildlife. On this stunning island we will also see mega herbs which have been regenerated since the removal of sheep in the 70’s, and witness other wildlife such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and Sea Lions. We will also enjoy a walk to a large nesting ground of Southern Royal Albatross which provides excellent opportunities to get close to these magnificent sea birds.

Meals:  B,L,D

At sea en route to the Antipodes, it is a day for pelagic birding. Species commonly seen in this area include Wandering Albatross species, Southern Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Campbell Island Albatross, Lightmantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Northern and Southern Giant Petrel, the Sooty Shearwater and the Little Shearwater. This region of the Southern Ocean is one of the few places where the Fairy Prion, Fulmar Prion and Antarctic Prion occur together, providing a good opportunity for comparison. Other species to be on the lookout for include the Soft-plumaged Petrel, Mottled Petrel, White-headed Petrel, Grey-faced Petrel, Whitechinned Petrel, Grey-backed Storm-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Black-bellied Storm-Petrel and the Common Diving-Petrel.

Meals:  B,L,D

The Antipodes group of islands is the most isolated and perhaps the least known of New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands. Sealers lived here in the decades immediately after their discovery in 1806. Mice are the only introduced animal on the islands but efforts to eradicate them will hopefully see that their days are numbered. The islands are of volcanic origin, but are heavily eroded especially the western shoreline. The largest of the group is Antipodes Island. Landings are not permitted so we plan to cruise, along the coastline by Zodiac where we have a good chance of seeing the Antipodes Parakeet, the largest of New Zealand’s parakeets. This species has an entirely green head. We will also look for the Reischek’s Parakeet, a subspecies of the Red-crowned Parakeet found in the Auckland Islands and on the Chatham Islands. We also see the Antipodes subspecies of the New Zealand Pipit. Good views of both Erect-crested and Rockhopper Penguins can be expected along the coast where they often breed in mixed colonies.

Meals:  B,L,D

We arrive at the incongruously named Bounty Islands, the remote northernmost of the five New Zealand Subantarctic groups; they were discovered by Captain Bligh just months before the infamous mutiny. Here inhospitable granite knobs, tips of the submerged Bounty Platform, are lashed by the Southern Ocean. They are home to thousands of Salvin’s Albatross, Erect-crested Penguins, Fulmar Prions and the endemic Bounty Island Shag – the world’s rarest. We plan to arrive in the early morning and if conditions are suitable we will cruise by Zodiac around the granite outposts to take a closer look at the birds which breed there. New Zealand Fur Seals which were almost hunted to extinction in the Subantarctic Islands are present in large numbers. Sailing towards the Chatham Islands there are opportunities to see a good selection of birdlife as we sail. These should include Wandering Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Broad-billed Prion, White-chinned Petrel and Black-bellied Storm-Petrel as well as Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. Other possible sightings include White-capped Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Cape Petrel, Antarctic Fulmar, Sooty Shearwater, Little Shearwater and Grey-backed Storm-Petrel. We will also start to keep a lookout for the Chatham Island Petrel.

Meals:  B,L,D

As we continue toward the Chatham Archipelago, there are excellent opportunities for pelagic birding today. In particular, we will look out for the Chatham Island Petrel which has been seen on this leg of the voyage before. In the past we have observed the very rare Chatham Island Taiko in this area. Endemic to the Chatham Islands, the Chatham Island Taiko – also known as the Magenta Petrel – is among New Zealand’s most endangered species. It is one of the world’s rarest seabirds with a population estimated to number less than 150. This afternoon we will cruise around spectacular Pyramid Rock, a basalt outcrop south of Pitt Island. This is the only breeding place of the Chatham Island Albatross. During the afternoon we arrive at South East Island. This has to be one of the world’s greatest nature reserves and landings are not permitted. However we should obtain good views of the very rare New Zealand Shore Plover and Chatham Island Oystercatcher from the Zodiacs as we cruise along the coast. We should also see the Pitt Island Shag which nests on the island.

Meals:  B,L,D

The Chatham Archipelago consists of one large island and numerous smaller islands and rocky islets. Only two of the islands are inhabited. They represent New Zealand’s eastern most territory. The islands were originally settled by East Polynesians. In the 1400s the population became isolated and interestingly developed its own distinct culture. The islands were discovered by Europeans in the 1790s. Sealers and settlers followed and then in the 1830s Maoris from New Zealand invaded killing and enslaving many of the indigenous people. The impact of the original settlers, the European and later the Maori people on the native flora and fauna was disastrous. Introduced animals, hunting, fires and land clearing wiped out many species of endemic birds. Fortunately a number survived on the offshore islands in the archipelago. With a new generation has come a new awareness and a willingness to be part of a concerted conservation effort. A number of private reserves have been established, a lot of replanting has taken place and predators are being controlled. Today we will visit one of the original private reserves established by a local family on the south coast of the main island where there is a very good chance to see the endemic Chatham Island Pigeon and Warbler. The pigeon was close to extinction until recently, and is now in good numbers. We will travel by local bus to the reserve. The road takes us through developed farmland where we will undoubtedly see numerous introduced species and possibly the Weka. Near our landing in Waitangi there is a good chance of seeing the endemic Chatham Island Shag. This afternoon we cruise back along the south coast, this is where the only known population of the Taiko breeds and also where they are attempting to establish a new population of the Chatham Island Petrel in a predator free area. We have seen both Taiko and Chatham Island Petrel in this area on previous expeditions.

Meals:  B,L,D

En route to Bluff we will cross the Chatham Rise, a large, relatively shallowly submerged part of the Zealandia continent that stretches east from near the South Island of New Zealand. 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, so we can expect great pelagic sightings. Species we expect to encounter include Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, White-capped Albatross and Salvin’s Albatross. Petrel species we should be able to identify are the Northern Giant Petrel, Cape Petrel, Westland Black Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Great-winged Petrel, Grey-backed Storm-Petrel, Whitefaced Storm-Petrel, the DivingPetrel and Cook’s Petrel. Additional birdlife will include species of shearwater seabirds. These tubenose birds fly with stiff wings and use a ‘shearing’ flight technique to move across wave fronts with the minimum of active flight. Photographic opportunities can include Flesh-footed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater and Little Shearwater. Small petrels on the horizon and close by include Fairy Prion and Broad-billed Prion. We will recap the highlights of our expedition and enjoy a farewell dinner tonight as we complete the last few miles of our journey.

Meals:  B,L,D

Early this morning we will arrive in the Port of Bluff. After a final breakfast and completing Custom formalities 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.

Meals:  B


Inclusions

  • 16 breakfasts, 15 lunches and 16 dinners
  • 1 night's hotel accommodation in Queenstown twin share
  • Transfer from hotel to ship on Day 2
  • Comfortable cabin accommodation and use of all public areas on cruise
  • Services of expedition leaders
  • All sightseeing and shore excursions from the ship including the use of Zodiacs
  • Lectures, videos, slide and film shows and guide services
  • Port taxes and port charges imposed by government authorities
  • Pre-departure information
  • Mandatory landing fees

  • Travel to and from start /end point of trip
  • Arrival transfers from airport to hotel
  • Accommodation and meals or other services not included in the ship cruise itinerary
  • Laundry, postage, personal clothing, medical expenses, travel insurance and items of a personal nature such as bar charges, wine and phone calls
  • Emergency evacuation charges
  • Customary end of voyage tips

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Priceper person from

$15250USD

Options & Supplements*
  • Superior TripleUSD$16045
  • Superior Deck 4USD$17650
  • Superior Deck 5USD$18150
  • Main Deck SingleUSD$20995
  • Worsley SuiteUSD$21350
  • Superior SingleUSD$21890
  • Heritage SuiteUSD$33000
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Birding Down Under trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.


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