Long recognised for their rich biodiversity, the Subantarctic Islands are UNESCO World Heritage sites. This places them in a select group of only 180 natural sites that have been designated as ‘the most important and significant natural habitats' on the planet. They are also afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments and access to these islands is by permit only. On this expedition we offer you the unique chance to explore, photograph and understand these wonderful places in the company of knowledgeable and passionate guides.
Day 1: Hobart
Meet your fellow voyagers and expedition staff for an informal
get-together over dinner at the hotel, where you will stay overnight.
Days 2-3: Enter the Southern Ocean
We transfer you to the port where staff will welcome you on board the
Akademik Shokalskiy, and as you settle into your cabin, our adventure
begins. As we make our way through an area known as the Furious
Fifties in the tumultuous Southern Ocean, we will learn more about the
flora and fauna as we prepare for our arrival at Macquarie Island. En
route there are great birding opportunities which may 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. Other species to be on the lookout for include the
Soft-plumaged Petrel, Mottled Petrel, White-headed Petrel, Grey-faced
Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Grey-backed Storm-Petrel, Wilson’s
Storm-Petrel and the Black-bellied Storm-Petrel.
Days 4 to 5: Macquarie Island
Described by one Australian explorer as “One of the wonder spots of
the world” this is the only place in the world where the beautiful
Royal Penguin breeds. Three other species of penguins, the King,
Gentoo and Rockhopper also breed here. You will never forget your
first experience of a noisy ‘penguin city’, where the dapper
inhabitants show no fear of their strange visitors and where you will
be immersed in a tumult of chattering, feeding chicks; territorial
disputes; petty pilfering and courtship displays. This all happens
amongst the hundreds of Southern Elephant Seals lolling on the beaches
and dunes. On arrival we meet with scientists and Park Rangers based
here who will accompany us on all our landings.
Day 6: At Sea
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 in preparation for our visit.
Days 7 to 8: Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbour
We spend two days exploring the island by foot taking in the panorama
of rocky islets and sea stacks; once the lonely preserve of settlers
and seal hunters and now returned to nature. Enjoy an easy walk to the
nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross at Col Lyall or walk
across the hills to Northwest Bay and see the strange and beautiful
megaherbs on the hills. These huge pink and yellow wild flowers have
adapted well to the harsh conditions. We also seek out other wildlife
such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and, on
the beaches beyond, young male sea lions testing their strength.
Day 9: Auckland Islands – Carnley Harbour
These islands have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by. Loaded
in human history, they harbour tales of castaways, bullion and
Coastwatchers through to today’s scientific visitors. Today we land in
Carnley Harbour and, if weather and sea conditions permit, visit the
Shy Mollymawk colony at South West Cape or, if weather is not
suitable, we will select one of a number of other sites available to
Day 10: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island
Named for a distinguished shipping family
and one of the most beautiful islands in the group, this is a great
birding location and a chance to see everything from the famous
Southern Royal Albatross and Northern Giant Petrel to parakeets,
Bellbirds and the endemic shag, teal and snipe. Sandy Bay is one of
three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands for the rare Hooker’s,
or New Zealand, Sea Lion.
Day 11: At Sea
At sea en route to the the Snares Islands, take the opportunity to
relax and reflect on our amazing experiences.
Day 12: The Snares – North East Island
North East Island is the largest of The Snares and staggeringly, this
one island is claimed by some to be home to more nesting seabirds than
all of the British Isles together. Zodiac cruising the rugged
coastline we learn how the islands got their name and encounter Snares
Crested Penguins, Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross on the imposing
cliffs. We are also likely to encounter Antarctic Terns, White-fronted
Terns, Red-billed Gulls, Tomtits and Fernbirds.
Day 13: At Sea
At sea en route to the Port of Bluff, take the opportunity to recap
the highlights of our expedition and enjoy a farewell dinner tonight
as we complete the last few miles of our journey.
Day 14: Invercargill
We arrive at the Port of Bluff early in the morning. After breakfast,
customs formalities and a last minute opportunity to bid farewell to
your expedition team, you disembark and board our complimentary coach
transfer to downtown Invercargill or Invercargill Airport.