Meet at an Invercargill city hotel from where you will be transferred to the Port of Bluff (27km south of Invercargill) to embark the 'Spirit of Enderby'.
Familiarise yourself on board and then join the captain on the bridge, or fellow travellers on deck, as we set sail and our adventure begins.
The closest Subantarctic Islands to New Zealand, they were appropriately called The Snares as they were once considered a hazard for sailing ships. The islands are uninhabited and enjoy the highest protection as Nature Reserves.
It is claimed by some that these islands are home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles together.
Weather permitting, you will cruise the jagged coastline by Zodiac allowing you to see some of the features of the island. From the water you can view the unique large tree daisies Olearia lyallii and Brachyglottis stewartiae which dominate much of the island, creating a forest canopy and draping the hills.
Your cruise should also allow you to encounter some of the birdlife that inhabits these islands, including the endemic Snares Crested Penguin. You may also catch glimpses of the Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbird which are unique to these islands. On the cliffs you will likely see Buller’s Albatross whose Maori name translates as ‘flying wind’ which could be an apt description of The Snares. This species only nests here and at the Solander Islands.
The Auckland Islands group was formed by two volcanoes which erupted some 10-25 million years ago and were subsequently eroded and dissected by glaciations creating the archipelago as we know it today.
Enderby Island is a wildlife rich island offering a varying landscape where the Rata forests are regenerating and there is a resurgence of herbaceous plants. The island is home to the Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion which breeds on Sandy Bay beach where we plan to land. This animal is the rarest sea lion in the world.
During your day ashore 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 and from there you follow the coast on the circumnavigation of the island.
You are likely to encounter a great number of bird species on the island from the famous Southern Royal Albatross and Northern Giant Petrel to parakeets, bellbirds and the endemic shag, teal and snipe. Plan to spend some time with the Yellow-eyed Penguin, the world’s rarest penguin and the fourth largest of the world’s penguins.
Auckland Island is the largest of the islands in the group. The western coastline has been sculpted into formidable cliffs by the prevailing westerly winds, and to the east, the coast has been carved by glaciers into some of the most picturesque fiords in the world.
Your anchorage in Carnley Harbour offers a range of activities, depending on weather and sea conditions. Climb to South West Cape for magnificent views of a Shy Mollymawk Albatross colony and perhaps spot the beautiful Wandering Albatross spreading its huge wingspan above the cliffs.
Other possibilities include visiting the abandoned World War II coastwatcher’s station or the remains of a ship wrecked in 1864 and made famous by two books written by the survivors.
You depart Carnley Harbour for Campbell Island this afternoon.
Explore Campbell Island by foot and take in the panorama of rocky islets and sea stacks, once the lonely preserve of settlers and seal hunters and now returned to nature.
Campbell Island is known for its megaherbs – herbaceous, perennial wild flowers characterised by their great size, with huge leaves and very colourful flowers, which have developed as an adaptation to the harsh weather conditions on the islands. Our visit should coincide with the flowering of the Pleurophyllum speciosum, an endemic daisy carpeting the hills and startling in size with leaves sometimes half a metre wide.
A range of walks will be offered. You can explore an abandoned Meteorological Station at the head of the harbour or take the Col Lyall Saddle walk which offers an opportunity to view and photograph the Southern Royal Albatross nesting amongst the flowers and tussocks.
Alternatively, walk to remote Northwest Bay across the tussock tops and megaherb fields to an isolated coastline that Southern Elephant Seals haul out on and New Zealand Sea Lions and Yellow-eyed Penguins call home. Another option is to climb the beautifully-named Mt Honey which offers dramatic views from its summit.
A day at sea provides a great opportunity to reflect on the voyage and the Subantarctic Islands that you have visited. Today spend time on deck and view pelagic species that come close. You may also see cetaceans such as the Dusky Dolphins which sometimes surf the bow waves of the ship, and if sea conditions are good, a number of different whale species are a possibility. The day is interspersed with illustrated lectures on the biology and history of the area we have visited and the Southern Ocean.
On arrival at the Port of Bluff this morning, you have a final breakfast and say your farewells before disembarking and taking a complimentary coach transfer to either a central city point in historic Invercargill 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 from Invercargill until after midday today.
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.