Arrive at Invercargill, New Zealand’s southernmost city. Established by Scottish settlers, the area’s wealth of rich farmland is well suited to the sheep and dairy farms that dot the landscape.
Make your way to the Kelvin Hotel in the city centre where a complimentary night’s accommodation is provided tonight.
Take the opportunity to meet fellow expeditioners at an informal dinnertime get-together.
Take breakfast at your leisure in the hotel dining room, then enjoy a visit to the Southland Museum to view the Subantarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff, 27 kilometres to the south of Invercargill, to your vessel for the trip.
You will have the opportunity to settle into your cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship; the crew also take the opportunity to conduct a number of compulsory briefings.
You are invited to join the expedition team and Captain on the Bridge as we set our course to The Snares.
The closest Subantarctic Islands to New Zealand, they were appropriately called The Snares as they were once considered a hazard for passing ships. Comprising of two main islands and a smattering of rocky islets, they are uninhabited and highly protected.
North East Island is the largest of The Snares and, staggeringly, this one island is home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles together. You will arrive early in the morning and cruise the rugged coastline by Zodiac if weather and sea conditions are suitable (landings are not permitted) along the sheltered eastern side.
In sheltered bays, we should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguins, Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbirds. Cape Pigeons, Antarctic Terns, White-fronted Terns and Redbilled Gulls also abound.
There are hundreds of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters nesting on The Snares and Buller’s Albatross breed here later in the season. Other nesting seabirds include Cape Petrel (or Pigeon), Mottled Petrel, Diving-Petrel and Broad-billed Prion.
The Auckland Islands group is one of the largest in the Subantarctic and has a colourful history of discovery and attempted settlement. Characterised by towering cliffs and rugged sea stacks, they have borne witness to many a shipwreck in days gone by.
You spend the day ashore on Enderby Island which is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Subantarctic Islands and a great place to view birds and wildlife. On the beaches here you find the rare Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion. In the forests behind you find Bellbirds, Red-crowned Parakeets and the friendly Tomtits. Yellow-eyed penguins also nest in the forest and are often seen travelling backwards and forwards across the beach to their nests.
You land in Carnley Harbour (weather dependent) and climb to a Shy Albatross colony. If wind and weather prevent this, there are options to walk to an abandoned coastwatchers hut and lookout used during the Second World War, or if landing on the shores of the north arm of Carnley Harbour where the Grafton was wrecked in 1865, the remains of the vessel and the castaway hut can still be seen.
While at sea, take the chance to learn more about the biology and history of the islands and the tempestuous Southern Ocean through a series of lectures and presentations.
Crossing the confluence of warmer and cooler waters at the Subantarctic Convergence you can expect to see a large number of pelagic species, including five or six kinds of albatross and petrel.
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, and large groups of Southern Elephant Seals slumber on the beaches and in the tussock. In addition, there are three species of fur seals found here as well as four species of albatross.
Time will be spent divided between the two approved landing sites of Sandy Bay and Buckles Bay.
At Sandy Bay a Royal Penguin rookery teems with feisty little birds; all three million of the world’s Royal Penguins breed on Macquarie Island. A substantial King Penguin Colony is also found here. As these birds are both unafraid and inquisitive, some of the best observations will be had by quietly sitting and letting the birds come to you.
At Buckles Bay you will have a guided tour of the Australian Antarctic Division Base which was established in the late 1940s. There is a range of scientific research being undertaken here as well a very strategically important weather station.
Soaring albatrosses and petrels circle the vessel as you steam south through the Southern Ocean. Lectures now concentrate on Antarctica and the Ross Sea region and, beyond the bows of the ship, drifting icebergs begin to appear in extraordinary shapes.
Manoeuvring in close for your first ice photographs we pass the Antarctic Circle and into the continent’s realm of 24-hour daylight.
During your time in the Ross Sea region you visit the highlights of Antarctica’s most historic region.
Due to the unpredictable nature of ice and weather conditions, a day by day itinerary is not possible, however, the Captain and Expedition Leader assess daily conditions and take advantage of every opportunity to make landings or zodiac sightseeing tours.
Your programme will emphasise wildlife viewing, key scientific bases and historic sites, as well as the spectacular scenery of the coastal terrain, glaciers and icebergs in the Ross Sea.
Whilst specific landings cannot be guaranteed, you can hope to visit the following areas:
Cape Adare’s bold headland and the Downshire Cliffs greets you as you approach (subject to local ice conditions). Cape Adare, at the tip of the Ross Sea, is the site of the largest Adelie penguin rookery in Antarctica. Blanketing the large flat spit which forms the Cape is the huge rookery which now, at the height of summer, numbers over one million birds – an absolutely staggering sight. You will never forget your first experiences in a ceaselessly active and noisy penguin city, where the dapper inhabitants show no fear of their strange visitors. Our naturalists point out various aspects of their lifestyle and by sitting down quietly, one may observe the often comical behavior of the penguins, courtship displays, feeding ever-hungry chicks, territorial disputes and stealing of nest material. The curious penguins will often approach you very closely, presenting superb photographic opportunities. Surrounded by a sea of penguins you will find Borchgrevink’s Hut, the oldest in Antarctica, built during the first expedition to winter over on the Antarctic continent in 1899. It is a fascinating relic of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration and you are able to inspect the interior which still contains artefacts of the early explorers. One thousand feet up in the hills behind Cape Adare is the oldest grave in Antarctica, that of 22 year old Nicolai Hansen, a member of Borchgrevink’s expedition.
The enormous Admiralty Range heralds your arrival at Cape Hallett, near the head of the Ross Sea. The scenery here is wild and spectacular. Mountains rear up from the sea to over 4,000 metres. Giant glaciers course their way down from the interior to discharge their icy load. You will land next to an abandoned American-New Zealand base, home to large numbers of Adelie penguins and Weddell seals.
Terra Nova Bay
Surrounded by the spectacular Society Ranges is Baia Terra Nova, an Italian summer research station, one of the most modern and attractive in Antarctica. The scientists and support staff here are always most hospitable and show us around their lonely but beautiful home. The Italians conduct many streams of scientific research and also claim to have the best ‘cafe espresso’ in Antarctica!
This rugged island, deep in the Ross Sea, is gouged by numerous glaciers and is home to a large Adelie penguin population and other nesting seabirds. You will attempt a zodiac landing near a rookery as well as exploration the coastline. If a landing is achieved there will be an opportunity for those who are feeling fit to climb to the summit of the island.
Ross Ice Shelf
This is the largest ice shelf in Antarctica, and the world’s largest body of floating ice.Just 800 miles from the South Pole, this daunting spectacle prevented many early Antarctic explorers from venturing further south. A natural ice barrier, at times it creates hazardous weather conditions, with sheets of snow blown at gale force by the katabatic winds coming off the polar ice cap. From Ross Island you will cruise eastward along the shelf front, with its 30 metre high spectacular ice cliffs continuing to the horizon. Imposing tabular icebergs sometimes calve from the ice shelf.
Ross Island – Mt Erebus / Cape Bird / Shackleton's Hut / Scott's Hut
These and a visit to a scientific field station (Scott and
McMurdo Stations) are always on our wish list but ice, weather and operational requirements. Ross Island was and is the 'hub of activity' in the Ross Sea, dominated by the 12,448-foot Mt Erebus, a monstrous active volcano named after the ancient Greek God of Darkness. The carefully preserved huts of the 'Heroic Era' help make the history come alive. If we can reach the bases we get a modern perspective on Antarctic Research.
These small, rugged islands lie off the shore of Cape Hallett and have only been rarely visited. An Adelie penguin rookery, numbering tens of thousands of birds, blankets Foyn Island. There are opportunities to observe their busy activities, with the superb backdrop of the Admiralty Mountains across the water.
Day 23 - 26: Voyage 1942, 1970, 2043 and 2071
Day 23 - 25: Voyage 1972 and 2073
At sea, take time to rest and enjoy shipboard life in the bar or library after the excitement and long daylight hours of the Antarctic. You have time for lectures on our final destination and for some pelagic bird spotting.
Day 27 - 28: Voyages 1942, 1970, 2043 and 2071
Day 26 - 27: Voyage 1972 and 2073
The Campbell Island group is New Zealand’s southernmost Subantarctic territory. We drop anchor in Perseverance Harbour, a long inlet cutting into the undulating landscape of Campbell Island itself. This harbour is an occasional refuge for Southern Right Whales who come here to calve.
Campbell Island is a truly magnificent place of rugged scenery, unique flora and abundant wildlife, and you spend the day exploring the island on foot. Here you will find a now abandoned New Zealand meteorological station as well as Campbell Island Shags, penguins, fur seals and rare Hooker’s Sea Lions. The highlight of your visit is a walk to the hilltop breeding sites of Southern Royal Albatross, over six thousand pairs of which breed on Campbell Island. These magnificent birds, close relations to and the same size as the Wandering Albatross, have the largest wingspan in the world and are very approachable, making superb photographic subjects.
Voyages 1942, 1970, 2043 and 2071: Bluff
Early this morning we will arrive in the Port of Bluff. After a final breakfast and completing Custom formalities, bid farewell to your fellow voyagers and take a complimentary coach transfer to either a central city point or to the airport. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel until after midday today.
Voyage 1972 and 2073 ONLY: Christchurch
Early this morning we will arrive in the Port of Lyttelton. After a final breakfast and completing Custom formalities, bid farewell to your fellow voyagers and take a complimentary coach transfer to either a central city point or to the airport. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel 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. 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.