Mawsons Antarctica - Commonwealth Bay 2

For many, the highlight of the voyage is a visit to Cape Denison, the site of Sir Douglas Mawson’s hut from the historic 1911-1913 expedition; a time capsule from a great era of exploration. This is one of the most exclusive places on earth – more people have stood at the top of Mt Everest than have stood inside this historic hut. The voyage also takes us to Port Martin, the site of 100 grounded icebergs, allowing our guests to get up close and view these amazing sites; and Dumont d’Urville, the French base renowned for its rich local wildlife, including colonies of Adelie and Emperor penguins.


Day 1 Bluff (Invercargill), New Zealand
Day 2 Snares Islands, New Zealand
Day 3 Auckland Islands, New Zealand
Day 4 At sea
Day 5 Macquarie Island
Day 6 At sea
Day 7 At sea
Day 8 At sea
Day 9 Commonwealth Bay Region
Day 10 Commonwealth Bay Region
Day 11 Commonwealth Bay Region
Day 12 Commonwealth Bay Region
Day 13 Commonwealth Bay Region
Day 14 At sea
Day 15 At sea
Day 16 At sea
Day 17 At sea
Day 18 At sea
Day 19 Hobart, Tasmania

Day 1: Bluff (Invercargill), New Zealand - Embark/Disembark

Latitude: 46°35'S
Longitude: 168°18'E
The largest urban centre in New Zealand's Southland is Invercargill, a city of 49,000 people. Visitors come to admire the elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings, gardens and landscaped parks. The fishing port of Bluff is a half hour drive south from Invercargill and is home to the famous Bluff oyster and a lively annual seafood festival. From Bluff, visitors can catch a ferry to Stewart Island - a haven for native bird life and the only place in New Zealand where you can readily see kiwi in their natural habitat.

For guests embarking in Bluff we offer a complementary transfer from Invercargill to Orion on the day of Orion’s departure. The transfer is from the city centre departing at about 2pm. Subject to minimum numbers we will also offer a transfer from the Invercargill airport at times to coincide with flight arrivals. If we are able to confirm an airport transfer this will be advised on your travel documents, otherwise a taxi from the airport to the city centre is about $15.

Day 2: Snares Islands, New Zealand

Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest sub-Antarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. Weather permitting we'll launch our Zodiacs for an exploration of the sheltered eastern coastline as the island's wildlife protection program precludes landings. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds, 99 recorded species including albatross, Antarctic Terns and Snares Crested Penguins.

Day 3: Auckland Islands, New Zealand

Sites in Port Ross may be visited including an abandoned Maori settlement, a German expedition observation point at Terror Cove and a WWII coast watching station at Ranui Cove. In Carnley Harbor castaway depots at Camp Cove, are marked by an A frame building built in 1887 by the crew of the Awarua, inscribed with the names of people from the French Bark Angou wrecked in 1905. We may cruise to Victoria Passage, a dramatic opening at the end of Carnley Harbor. The birdlife of Auckland Island is profuse.

Day 5: Macquarie Island

Often described as one of the "wonder spots" of the world, the sub-Antarctic island of Macquarie has been said to rival South Georgia in its magnificence, scenic diversity and prolific wildlife. Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and a World Heritage Site in 1977, Macquarie now operates a full-time manned station where biological and meteorological research is conducted. The station, located on the isthmus at Buckles Bay, is from where we will collect the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife rangers who will be our guides.

Sandy Bay, situated halfway down the island's eastern seaboard, is our planned landing site. The Zodiacs will traverse breakwaters of giant kelp before reaching rocky beaches where landing conditions can best be described as "wet and challenging". Once ashore you'll find the bay, with its rugged backdrop of mountains and tussock covered headlands, is home to 20,000 breeding pair of royal penguins, king penguins, rock hopper penguins, gentoo penguins and elephant seals. This profusion of wildlife wasn't always so protected, the rusting remains of machinery used by whalers being stark reminders of the exploitation which took place on the island during its early history.

Days 9 - 13: Commonwealth Bay Region

On 8 January 1912 Sir Douglas Mawson landed on the Antarctic continent after a journey from Hobart that took 36 days aboard the Aurora, a ship of just 612 tons. During these voyages to the Antarctic continent, Orion will be positioned in and around Commonwealth Bay on the Adelie coast of Antarctica. Your expedition team will lead a variety of opportunistic landings which may include sites at Cape Denison, Port Martin and Dumont d'Urville. In each instance landings ashore and Zodiac explorations are wholly subject to prevailing weather conditions, in an area Mawson described as "the home of the blizzard".

Cape Denison, Antarctica
Latitude: 67°0'S
Longitude: 147°44'E

Our expedition leaders Don and Margie McIntyre have called Cape Denison home, having spent more time there than any other person alive today. It is the windiest place on the face of the earth and is surrounded by spectacular ice cliffs. The area is home to 60,000 Adelie Penguins, Snow Petrels, Giant Petrels, Wilsons Storm Petrels and Cape Pigeons. Weddell, Leopard and Elephant seals may be seen stretched out on the ice. Cape Denison is the site of Sir Douglas Mawson's hut from the historic 1911-13 expedition. This is one of the Antarctic's least visited sites and, as the first Australian scientific base on the Antarctic, is of great historical significance and the subject of an ongoing multi-million dollar preservation program. Apart from the main living hut and workshop, there is the absolute magnetic hut, the magnetograph house, the transit hut and the memorial cross erected in memory of Ninnis and Mertz who died tragically in 1913. The main hut is surrounded by historic debris and artifacts including clothing, shoes, food crates, sleds, ropes and kerosene tins. An Australian Antarctic Division guide will accompany guests to Mawson's Hut. 

Port Martin, Antarctica
Latitude: 66°49'S
Longitude: 142°39'E

Enroute to Port Martin, Orion maneuvers through a large gallery of up to 100 grounded icebergs of various sizes, making it possible for close proximity views and photography. Port Martin is the former site of the French Antarctic base. Built in 1950 by the third French expedition to Terre Adelie, the region was so named by Dumont d'Urville for his wife. The area is in the small French Antarctic claim, sandwiched between the two Australian claims. The base was abandoned after it was partially destroyed by fire on the night of 24 January 1952. The site is scattered with artifacts and has an Adelie Penguin rookery, nesting McCormack Skuas, a spectacular backdrop of ice cliffs and a snow ramp to the Antarctic Plateau.

Dumont d'Úrville, Antarctica
Latitude: 66°40'S
Longitude: 140°01'E

The French scientific base at Dumont d'Úrville is on Petrels Island, located at the south-eastern end of the Geologie Archipelago. The base is named for French explorer Jules- Sebastien-Cesar Dumont d'Urville and was built in 1956 to replace the base at Port Martin some 100km to the east. The spectacular area is an important centre for the study of the rich local wildlife, including seals, petrels and penguins - the Adelie Penguin being named after Dumont d'Urville's wife. Emperor Penguins may be observed on some ice-floes behind the controversial and now unused airstrip (the French destroyed some Adelie Penguin rookeries to build it). Adelie Penguins abound around the base - in fact right up to the front door of most buildings!

Day 19: Hobart, Tasmania - Disembark

Set on the River Derwent, Hobart is very much a city of the sea with views of the Derwent estuary appearing around every corner. Historic 19th century waterfront warehouses remain, still bordering the commercial fishing harbor, though today it is easier to feast on seafood at one of the restaurants they now house. Hobart is the finishing line for the famed blue water Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and its deep harbor precinct once bustled with whalers, soldiers, petty bureaucrats and opportunistic businessmen. A walk through the town will reveal that the city has resisted the pressure to move with the times, having retained and preserved old buildings such as the Parliament built by convicts in the 1830's.

For guests embarking in Bluff we offer a complementary transfer from Invercargill to Orion on the day of Orion’s departure. The transfer is from the city centre departing at about 2pm. Subject to minimum numbers we will also offer a transfer from the Invercargill airport at times to coincide with flight arrivals. If we are able to confirm an airport transfer this will be advised on your travel documents, otherwise a taxi from the airport to the city centre is about $15.

For guests disembarking in Bluff we offer a complementary transfer from Orion to Invercargill on the day of arrival. The transfer is to the city centre, or to the Invercargill airport.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

Orion Deck Plan