Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand & Australia
12 November - 3 December 2011 (22 Days)
Leaders: Hannu Jännes
and the Heritage Expeditions staff
Group Size Limit: 20
Ship: Professor Khromov (Spirit of
Enderby) (capacity: 48 passengers)
subantarctic islands of New Zealand and Australia are amongst the
most isolated and least known places in the world. There are seven
groups of islands in the region. The Chatham Islands, the Bounty
Islands, Antipodes Island, Campbell Island, the Auckland Islands
and Snares Island are sovereign territories of New Zealand, while
Macquarie Island is a territory of Australia. They all differ markedly
in size and form and have contrasting vegetation. They are important
refuges for a wide range of plants and animals, many of which are
found nowhere else in the world. They are also breeding grounds
for the countless seabirds and marine mammals that range over vast
areas of the Southern Ocean. All the islands have been designated
as nature reserves – the highest form of legal protection
that can be given to a natural area by the governments of New Zealand
and Australia. The integrity of these remote islands and their natural
values is maintained through strict controls on entry. Visitor numbers
are restricted and only 600 visitors a year are allowed to land
in the New Zealand subantarctic islands and only 500 at Macquarie
Island. There are further restrictions on the number allowed ashore
at any one time or on any one day. Our Subantarctic Islands expedition
includes landings on the Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island, Campbell
Island and the Chatham Islands, and plus zodiac cruises at Snares
Island, Antipodes Island and the Bounty Islands. With a maximum
of only 48 passengers plus staff on the expedition we are well within
the allowable daily limits and everyone can go ashore at one time.
The result is that you can spend entire days, not hours, ashore
on some of the most remarkable islands in the world. This specially
extended itinerary provides the most comprehensive cruise around
the subantarctic islands that is available and will allow participants
to experience for themselves the full range of the wonderful birdlife,
other aspects of natural history and scenery that these fascinating
islands have to offer.
birdlife of the subantarctic islands is dominated by their spectacular
seabirds. There are more seabirds nesting on Snares Island alone
than in the entire British Isles! Quite a number are endemic (at
least as breeding species) to the subantarctic and temperate regions
of Australasia, including Snares Island, Erect-crested, Royal, Yellow-eyed
and Little Penguins, Gibson's, Antipodean, Northern Royal, Southern
Royal, Northern Buller's (or Pacific), Southern Buller's (or Buller's),
Salvin's, Chatham and Campbell Albatrosses, Cook's, Mottled, Chatham
Island and Westland Petrels, Buller's, Hutton's and Fluttering Shearwaters,
and Chatham Island, Campbell Island, Auckland Island, Bounty Island,
Pitt Island and Macquarie Island Shags. Many other seabirds occur
in the area, including King, Gentoo and Rockhopper Penguins, Wandering,
White-capped, Black-browed, Grey-headed and Light-mantled Sooty
Albatrosses, numerous petrels, shearwaters, prions and storm-petrels,
and Common Diving Petrel. The subantarctic islands also have some
interesting landbirds, some of which are endemic, and in particular
we shall be hoping to see Chatham Island Oystercatcher, the strange
Shore Plover, Auckland Island Snipe, Chatham Islands Pigeon, Antipodes
Island Parakeet and Chatham Island Gerygone. Marine mammals are
also a feature of the area and we should see large numbers of New
Zealand (or Hooker's) Sealions and New Zealand Fur Seals, and with
luck a few cetaceans.
shall be sailing on the Professor
Khromov, a ship operated by Heritage Expeditions (
who call her Spirit of Enderby) and one well liked
by those who sail in her due to her relatively small size (she takes
only 48 passengers), her ability to go almost anywhere and her friendly,
almost ‘family' atmosphere. A modern Finnish-built vessel under
Russian registry, the Professor Khromov was built in the
1983 and commissioned by the Academy of Sciences in Moscow. She
was originally intended for oceanographic research, but was subsequently
adapted for expedition-style cruising following the financial cutbacks
that later affected all formerly Soviet research programmes. She
is, of course, not a ‘cruise ship' in the traditional manner and
will appeal most to those for whom exploring wild places and enjoying
wild nature, rather than enjoying luxurious surroundings and ‘black-tie'
dinners with the officers, is the prime attraction. Cabins are furnished
with two berths and have some storage space and an outside view
(many having en-suite bathroom facilities). Public facilities include
restaurant, lounge/bar, lecture facilities and library. Food is
plentiful, of good quality, waiter-served and prepared by European,
New Zealand or Australian chefs. The ship carries a small complement
of guest lecturers, including a naturalist, who give informal talks
on the environment, wildlife and history of the subantarctic region
and also guide shore excursions. As much of the sailing as possible
is done at night, thus maximizing opportunities for going ashore
and enjoying the beautiful subantarctic landscape to the full. Landings
are carried out by means of a fleet of zodiacs, the rugged, fast-moving
inflatables developed by Jacques Cousteau for expedition work which
allow safe landings on remote coastlines in all types of conditions.
The sheer speed and efficiency with which the crew carry out these
landings, coupled with the small complement of passengers, allows
everyone plenty of time ashore. Further information about the cruise,
including photographs and details of the ship layout, including
cabin layouts, are available on the Ocean Adventures (at Birdquest)
website (www.oceanadventures.co.uk). The great advantage of taking
this particular cruise, if you are especially interested in seeing
the Subantarctic Islands' fantastic wildlife, is that the itinerary
and day to day schedule are strongly wildlife-orientated, and the
group will greatly benefit by having an experienced ornithologist
visited the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia in 1998.
1 Afternoon flight from London bound for Auckland.
2 In flight (much of the day being ‘lost'
as we cross the International Dateline).
3 Morning arrival at Auckland, from where
we take a connecting flight to Invercargill at the southern
tip of South Island. Upon arrival in Invercargill, we will
transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay and a chance to
meet up with the rest of the passengers taking the subantarctic
4 After breakfast we will transfer to our
ship which will be berthed at the nearby Port of Bluff. After
boarding we will make ready for departure, setting a course
for Snares Island to the south of New Zealand proper. This
first leg of our journey will provide our first opportunity
to see pelagic species. Watch out for Gibson's (split from
Wandering), Southern Royal, White-capped (or Shy) and Salvin's
(split from White-capped) Albatrosses, and Sooty Shearwaters
– there are an estimated 60 million of the latter nesting
on Snares Island! In addition, Mottled Petrel, Broad-billed
Prion and Common Diving Petrel should all feature on the list
for the first time today.
5 Snares Island is the first of the subantarctic
islands that we will be visiting. It is an amazing place –
more seabirds nest on this small island than there are seabirds
around the entire British Isles! We will make landfall in
the early morning, marvelling at the incredible numbers of
Sooty Shearwaters and Common Diving Petrels sweeping past
as they head out to sea after leaving their nesting burrows
ashore. Landings are not permitted, so we will zodiac cruise
the sheltered eastern side. We should see all but one of the
birds that are found on the island. Snares Island (or Snares
Crested) Penguins are plentiful around the coast, as are Cape
Petrels. Southern Buller's (or Buller's) Albatross nest here
late in the season and may already be in the vicinity. Cruising
in the sheltered bays we will see the endemic races of the
Tomtit and the Fernbird (the former is an unusual, all-black
form and may represent a distinct species), while Red-billed
Gulls, Antarctic Terns and White-fronted Terns will be feeding
around the coastline. Later we will sail for the Auckland
6 As dawn breaks we will be at Enderby Island
in the Aucklands group, a great island to bird. We will make
a landing at Sandy Bay, the main breeding ground for the New
Zealand (or Hooker's) Sealion. As well as an impressive number
of sealions we should also see Yellow-eyed Penguin, Southern
Royal and Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses, Northern Giant
Petrel, the endemic Auckland Island Shag, the flightless Auckland
Island Teal (split from Brown Teal) and the Auckland Islands
races of Double-banded Dotterel and Tomtit. We will spend
some time searching for the delightful little Auckland Island
Snipe, another subantarctic islands endemic, which we should
find creeping through the rich herbage. Other, more widespread
birds include Subantarctic Skua, Red-billed Gull, Red-crowned
Parakeet, Bellbird and Australasian (or New Zealand) Pipit,
plus introduced Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, Common Starling,
Lesser Redpoll and European Goldfinch. Sometimes the dashing
New Zealand Falcon makes an appearance. On Derrycastle Reef
there is a good chance to see Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone
and perhaps other migratory waders. Later we sail south towards
the main Auckland Islands group.
7 After we arrive at Carnley Harbour, in the
south of the main Auckland Islands, there will be an opportunity
for the more energetic to climb up to the White-capped Albatross
colony at Southwest Cape. The scenery here is dramatic, with
the wave-lashed cliffs far below and wonderful views over
the southern Aucklands, while all around one large numbers
of White-capped Albatrosses sit on their nests, display to
their mates, preen each other or sail past on those long,
long wings. Gibson's Albatrosses nest amongst the grassy tussocks
on the high plateau above the White-capped Albatross colony.
We should get marvellous views of these huge birds as they
will be nesting at this time. We may also see one of the New
Zealand Falcons that frequent the vicinity. Those electing
to remain on board will visit one of a number of historic
sites in the area.
8 As we continue towards Macquarie, surely
one of the most inaccessible birding Meccas in the world,
the excitement will be palpable. We will be at sea all day,
providing us with yet another wonderful opportunity to see
pelagics, including a fantastic selection of albatrosses which
will likely include our first Wandering, Grey-headed and Campbell
(split from Black-browed), as well as White-chinned and White-headed
Petrels, and Grey-backed and Black-bellied Storm-Petrels.
9 We will arrive at far-flung Macquarie Island,
the most southerly of the subantarctic islands, in the early
afternoon. We shall hope to land at both the ANARE base and
at Sandy Bay. We will also zodiac cruise in Lusitania Bay.
It is, of course, the only place in the world where one can
observe the Royal Penguin and there is certainly no shortage
of these. We will visit a large breeding colony at Sandy Bay,
reachable by boardwalk, below which thousands of these cute
creatures loaf on a sandy beach. Some individuals are so inquisitive
that if you sit down they will wander over and tentatively
peck at your rubber boots! The handsome King Penguin is also
found in large numbers, while two other penguin species breed
on Macquarie Island, the Gentoo and the Rockhopper. In addition,
we will also see the endemic Macquarie Island Shag. Common
Starlings also eke out a meagre existence in this harsh place
at the veritable ends of the earth, while Lesser Redpolls
are of particular interesting to visiting Aussie birders,
this being their only Australian locale!
10 We will continue our exploration of Macquarie
Island and then depart for Campbell Island.
11 At sea today we will see a similar range
of seabird species to those we saw en route from the Auckland
Islands to Macquarie Island, perhaps with the addition of
Southern (or Antarctic) Fulmar, Blue Petrel and, with luck,
12 Campbell Island is a great spot. Sadly
rats got ashore shortly after the island was discovered and
they have wrecked havoc with many of the smaller nesting petrels
and prions. Nevertheless, there is still some great birding
and an opportunity to get some good photographs, especially
Southern Royal Albatross. We will be able to sit quite close
to these huge but gentle seabirds and we may well see their
elaborate bill-clattering courtship ritual. We will spend
a whole day ashore in order to see these and other breeding
species such as Rockhopper Penguin, the beautiful, gentle-looking
Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, the
endemic Campbell Island Shag, Subantarctic Skua, Red-billed
and Kelp Gulls, and Antarctic Tern. Resident passerines include
the inevitable introductions: Dunnock and Lesser Redpoll.
The island is famous for its ‘megaherbs', unique subantarctic
flowering plants that will just be coming into bloom at the
time of our visit. Campbell Island scenery is impressive with
great lowering headlands, mile after mile of sheer cliffs,
sweeping bays and pinnacle-shaped offshore stacks.
13 At sea en route to Antipodes Island. This
is another day for pelagic species, with more southerly elements
continuing to predominate: Antipodean (also split from Wandering),
Campbell and Grey-headed Albatrosses, Southern Giant Petrel
and Little Shearwaters should all be encountered. We will
endeavour to sort out Fairy Prion, Fulmar Prion and Antarctic
Prion, which are not always easy, but we should get some great
views while puzzling over these tricky little ‘tubenoses'.
Other species to be on the lookout for include Soft-plumaged
and Grey-faced (or Great-winged) Petrels, and Wilson's Storm-Petrel.
With luck we could come across a rarity such as Kerguelen
14 It is an overnight trip to the Antipodes
Island, one of the most isolated of the subantarctic islands.
Weather permitting, we will zodiac cruise the coastline. We
will be keen to see the uncommon Antipodes Island Parakeet
and also the well-marked endemic race of the Red-crowned Parakeet.
We will also see the endemic Antipodes race of the Australasian
Pipit. Introduced Common Starlings and Lesser Redpolls are
also present. Both Rockhopper and Erect-crested Penguins frequent
the coastline and there are usually a good number of Antarctic
Terns and Kelp (or Southern Black-backed) Gulls present. As
we depart Antipodes Island this evening we will keep a watch
out for the Grey Petrel. Although it is a winter breeder there
may still be one or two birds present.
15 En route to the Bounty Islands today we
should see Northern Buller's (or Pacific) Albatross, which
has been split from (northern) Buller's, and White-faced Storm-petrel,
as well as many of the more widespread seabirds. We will reach
the Bounty Islands in time for a late afternoon zodiac cruise.
These inhospitable granite rocks are lashed by the Southern
Ocean and here we will find both Erect-crested Penguin, a
species restricted to the Bounty Islands and Antipodes Island,
and the endemic Bounty Island Shag. In addition, Fulmar Prions
nest on the islands and, unusually for a prion, are active
around the cliffs in daylight.
16 A day at sea with the chance to see more
of the species seen yesterday and to look out for new ones
such as Northern Royal Albatross and Chatham Albatross (split
from White-capped) as we near the Chatham Islands. As we head
northwards there is a small but real chance of encountering
Chatham Island Petrel, which breeds only in the Chathams,
and we will all secretly be hoping for the miraculous appearance
of a Magenta Petrel (or Taiko), a near-extinct species that
breeds in the Chathams and which has only been seen at sea
a few times in the modern era.
17 Today we arrive at the Chatham Islands.
This remote archipelago has been isolated for thousands of
years and both the birds and plants show a high degree of
endemism. Sadly, many of the species have become extinct because
of extensive development and burning. As we approach the Chatham
Islands we will sail past Pyramid Rock, the breeding ground
of the Chatham Island Albatross. Later we will visit South
East Island. Landings are not permitted on this island, but
we will be able to have excellent close view of the endemic
Pitt Island Shag, Chatham Island Oystercatcher and the attractive
Shore Plover from the zodiacs. Only about 150 individuals
of the latter survive, so to see this remarkable shorebird
feeding on the wave-cut rock platforms will be one of the
highlights of our visit to the Chathams.
18 During our birding excursion on Chatham
Island itself we should see the endemic Chatham Island Shag,
Pitt Island Shag, the rather portly Chatham Island Pigeon
(split from New Zealand Pigeon) and Chatham Island Gerygone
(or Chatham Island Warbler). We will also be looking out for
the endemic race of the Tomtit. Other species we should see
include Little Penguin, White-faced Heron, Black Swan, Pacific
Black (or Grey) Duck, Weka (a bold, chicken-sized rail), Masked
Lapwing (known locally as Spur-winged Plover), Double-banded
Dotterel, Red-billed Gull, White-fronted Tern, Australasian
(or New Zealand) Pipit, Welcome Swallow and Tui, and also
some introduced European species such as Dunnock, Common Starling,
House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll and Yellowhammer.
19-20 As we travel towards the mainland we
will cross what is known as the Chatham Rise, a relatively
shallow area of water compared with the surrounding ocean.
This is also a great place for pelagic seabird watching with
an overlap of both northern (i.e. temperate zone) species
and those birds that favour southern latitudes. We can expect
to see Cook's and Westland Petrels, Flesh-footed, Buller's
and Hutton's Shearwaters, and Australasian Gannet, as well
as more Northern Royal and Chatham Albatrosses, and ‘water-walking'
21 Our ship will arrive in the morning at
the port of Dunedin. Later we will transfer to Dunedin airport
for an afternoon flight to Auckland where we connect with
an evening flight bound for London.
22 Midday arrival at London.
& Road Transport: The hotel in Invercargill is
of normal Birdquest standard. For details of the ship, see
the introductory section. The transfers to the ship in mainland
New Zealand and the only road excursion on the Chathams are
The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are
a few optional harder walks.
Quite mild at this season. Temperatures range from
cool to warm in the north of the subantarctic islands region
and from cool to fairly cold in the south (although even in
the south it can feel relatively warm on a sunny day if there
is no wind). It feels decidedly cold on windy days at sea
in the far south, however! Sunny spells are interspersed with
(often longer) overcast periods and some rain is to be expected.
In mainland New Zealand the weather is generally similar in
character, but temperatures are typically quite warm at this
time of year.
Mammal Photography: Opportunities are excellent
for much of this tour.
Landings on some of the subantarctic islands are
by permit only as administered by the Governments of New Zealand
and Australia, and on rare occasions permits are refused.
It is also important to bear in mind that circumstances may
be encountered during the voyage which will make it necessary
or desirable to deviate from the planned itinerary. These
circumstances include poor weather conditions and unexpected
opportunities for making additional zodiac excursions. The
expedition leader will provide more information at the start
of the voyage and keep you fully informed throughout. While
as many landings as possible will be made, almost none of
these are crucial in terms of actually seeing the local birdlife,
which can almost invariably be seen from the ship or during
an inshore zodiac excursion. Sometimes the cruise departure/arrival
points in New Zealand may alter, but normally plenty of notice
Dates: These are provisional and will be confirmed
by 31st August 2008.
by Pete Morris/Birdquest
Chatham Albatross, as its name suggests, is restricted
to the Chathams as a breeding species.
courtesy of Heritage Expeditions
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE DATES AND PRICES ARE PROVISIONAL
£6453, €7615, $10647 London/London (or £5053, €5963, $8337 Invercargill/Dunedin) in a Main Deck triple-berth cabin with shared bathroom facilities.
Supplement for a Main Deck twin-berth cabin with shared bathroom facilities: £674, €795, $1112.
Supplement for a Superior Cabin with private bathroom: £1523, €1797, $2513.
Supplement for a Superior Plus Cabin with private bathroom: £2022, €2386, $3336.
Supplement for a Mini Suite with private bathroom: £2296, €2709, $3788.
Supplement for an Heritage Suite with private bathroom: £2702, €3188, $4458.
In addition there will be a charge to cover the landing fees levied by the governments of New Zealand and Australia of £227, €268, $375 per person. Price includes all transportation (including all flights), all accommodations, all meals (from dinner on Day 3), some soft drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, leader services. Gratuities for the expedition staff and crew, and the taxi transfer to the hotel on arrival in Invercargill, are not included in the tour price. The staff work very long hours to make such cruises a success, including a great deal of night sailing, and we have been told that most passengers give gratuities of around $270-360 (£164-218, €194-257) for such an 18 days cruise.
Single Cabin/Room Supplement: Single occupancy of most cabins can be obtained in return for an 80% supplement on top of the Invercargill/Dunedin cruise-only price (but suites require a 100% supplement); this supplement also entitles you to single room accommodation at the hotel in Invercargill. Please note that if you are willing to share but no cabin-mate is available you will not have to pay the single occupancy supplement.
Deposit: 25% of the London/London price (rounded down to the nearest £, € or $), regardless of where you are joining the tour. If booking more than 12 months ahead, the initial deposit is only 10% of the London/London price.
Cancellation Charges: For cancellations made 121 days or more before departure, the cancellation charge is 80% of the deposit paid. For cancellations made 91-120 days before departure, the cancellation charge is 100% of the deposit paid. For cancellations made 1-90 days before departure, or on the day of departure or later, the cancellation charge is 100% of the holiday price.
Important: Owing to the possibility, however small, of a severe airline delay, we would recommend that all participants not already in New Zealand travel out a day early and spend an extra night in Invercargill prior to the cruise. Our leader will be taking this precaution. Kindly note that in the event you do not arrive in time, the ship will not wait and neither the cruise operator nor ourselves can make a refund in such circumstances. Arriving a day early also has the advantage that your luggage could still catch up with you, should it go astray. The charge for an extra hotel night (without meals) is (provisional) £66, €78, $109 (single occupancy supplement: £40, €47, $66). Please advise us on booking which option you wish to select.
by Pete Morris/Birdquest
is just one of the many exciting seabirds seen on this