Scott and Shackletons Antarctica

This voyage covers some of the polar regions famously charted during the first race to the South Pole by pioneering explorers Scott and Shackleton exactly 100 years ago. The Ross Sea coast extends from the ice shelf northwards until it reaches the very tip of Victoria Land and Cape Adare. During our time in the Ross Sea Region we will attempt a variety of opportunistic landings, subject to weather conditions. Although our itinerary to the extreme sub-Antarctic and Antarctic regions is based on many years of collective experience, prevailing weather and ice conditions in this area of the world are unpredictable, mother nature dictates our course. These are not cruises they are true expeditions to what can be the most inhospitable region on earth. Bring with you a spirit of adventure and flexibility.

Day 1 - Dunedin, New Zealand

The Otago region was settled by Maori's over four centuries ago, with Scottish migrants establishing a small town in 1848. After gold was discovered Dunedin rapidly developed to (then) become New Zealand's biggest city and the country's industrial and commercial heart, with many ornate heritage buildings dating from this period still standing today. It was the first city outside the to have its own tram system. The Botanic Gardens, New Zealand's first, are located at the northern end of the city on the lower slopes of Signal Hill.

Day 3 - Auckland Islands

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 6 - 9: At Sea

As we make our way through the Southern Ocean, the Expedition Team will be on hand to prepare you for your expedition experience giving you an overview of all aspects of Antarctic life, with lectures and presentations on wildlife, ice, environmental sustainability and the history of polar exploration. These are given by some of the foremost experts in their fields including botany, marine biology, anthropology and history.

We cross the Antarctic Convergence Zone where warm currents meet cold which rise to the surface resulting in nutrient laden waters, a sudden and substantial drop in temperature and abundant marine life. A band of fog defines the convergence and the icebergs may be sighted in this region. We transit a vast wilderness in the company of sea birds (especially albatross and petrels), whales and dolphins. If the opportunity arises we may try to cross directly over the South Magnetic Pole as we head south.

Days 10 - 15: Ross Sea Region

This southernmost expanse of the Pacific Ocean was named after James Calrk Ross who first explored the area in 1841 with two ships, Erebus and Terror.

As seas go, this one is quite shallow and is bounded in the east by the coastal mountains of Victoria Land and in the south by the Ross Ice Shelf. The shelf is a flat topped body of snow covered glacial ice about the size of France which largely floats except along the coastlines. The southern part of the Ross Sea is not navigable for some 9 months of the year and over the summer season between January and March very few ships venture here, and those that do principally supply the various scientific stations.

The Ross Sea coast extends from the ice shelf northwards until it reaches the very tip of Victoria Land and Cape Adare. During our time in the Ross Sea Region we will attempt a variety of opportunistic landings, subject to weather conditions. These may include -

Cape Hallett
Following an intricate approach to Cape Hallett through thick pack ice, we land to inspect the site of an abandoned US/New Zealand base established during the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58. It is a magnificent area with giant glaciers and surrounding mountains of over 4,000 meters. Weddell Seals and Adelie Penguins abound.


Cape Evans

Scott's 1911 Terra Nova Hut is the largest historic building in Antarctica. Used in the 1910 to 1913 British Antarctic Expedition, it served as the base for extensive scientific research and surveys as well as Scott's journey to the South Pole. Much of Scott's equipment is well preserved and it is hoped we can enter the hut with guides. Shredded seaweed sown into Jut quilting is used as an insulating layer between the inner and outer cladding of the wood hut. Ten men of Shackleton's ill-fated imperial trans-Antarctic expeditions were marooned here in 1915 after their ship Aurora was blown out to sea and unable to return. Two of Aurora's anchors remain to this day on the beach in front of the hut. Entering the hut provides a window into the historic age of Antarctic exploration and discovery.


Cape Royds

Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds was constructed during the British Antarctic Nimrod Expedition in 1907-1909. Unable to land at King Edward VII Island, he then entered McMurdo Sound. Ice conditions prevented him reaching Hut Point, the site of Scott's hut, so he selected Cape Royds for winter quarters. Adelie Penguins are slowly reclaiming the site which is the world's southernmost penguin rookery. The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation program has successfully conserved a substantial number of fascinating artifacts in this hut, in such a way that at first sight the hut appears to have only recently been abandoned.


Possession Islands

Subject to sea and ice conditions, we hope to make a landing at the rarely visited small and craggy Possession Islands. One of these, Foyn Island, is covered with Adelie Penguins. The islands were discovered by James Clark Ross and Francis Crozier in 1841 during their expedition to locate the south magnetic pole.


Cape Adare

Cape Adare was discovered by Captain James Ross in 1841. We plan to visit Borchgrevink's Hut from the British Southern Cross Expedition, the first to ever spend winter in the Antarctic, in 1899. Up to 1,000,000 Adelie Penguins have reclaimed the site, which is spectacular, surrounded by black volcanic hills. High above the huts is the lonely grave and cross of Borchgrevink's biologist.


Franklin Island

We may see leopard seals cruising around the island and depending on the sea conditions, we will attempt a Zodiac landing to go ashore near a large rookery of Adelie penguins and explore the coastline.

If the voyage is ahead of schedule and weather permits, we may have the opportunity to make additional stops at Terra Nova Bay, Drygalski Glacier, the poetically named Inexpressible Island, Ross Ice Shelf and Cape Bird.


Cape Terra Nova Bay & Drygalski Glacier
First discovered by Scott during his 1901-1904 expedition, the site is now occupied by an Italian base which operates a summer research station. If permission is granted, we hope to visit the base. We may then cruise by the massive Drygalski Ice Tongue, a regular habitat for young emperor penguins.


Inexpressible Island

Home to a small Adelie Penguin rookery this low bleak Island is the site of an amazing story of survival where Scotts Northern party were forced to over-winter in a snow cave. Two plaques mark the site of the cave were the men suffered until their departure on the 30th September 1912 for Ross Island across the sea ice. This is a rarely visited site which is challenging to access but if a visit is successful it is not hard to imagine why the men called this place "Hell with a capital H."

Ross Ice Shelf

The South Pole is just 1,200 kilometers away and freezing gale force winds blow sheets of snow straight off the ice cap across the Ross Ice Shelf. This is the largest floating body of ice in the world with spectacular ice cliffs soaring 30 meters above the sea and the occasional background roar as massive icebergs calve away.

Cape Bird

This wild cape at the tip of Ross Island is home to a large Adelie penguin colony and the New Zealand scientists who study them, as well asĀ all aspects of the islands natural history at the remote scientific station.

Day 20 - Campbell Island

Campbell Island was first discovered in January 1810 by Captain Frederick Hasselburg, master of the sealing brig, Perseverance. He named the island after his employers Robert Campbell and Co. of Sydney and sadly drowned later that year after a boat capsized in Perseverance Harbor. Campbell is a volcanic island with fascinating rock formations. 50 years ago, between 2 and 3 million Rock Hopper Penguins were nesting on the island but since then 90% have been decimated by bacterial infection. Erect Crested Penguins are found here in small numbers and less than 20 pairs of Wandering Albatross nest. Approximately 8,500 pairs of Royal Albatross and about 74,000 pairs of Black Browed Mollymawk also call the island home. Over 40 other breeds of birds including the Southern Royal Albatross have also been observed on Campbell Island.

Day 22 - Dunedin, New Zealand

Orion's shallow draft will allow her to cruise all the way into Dunedin city wharf (whereas other vessels berth at Port Chalmers) to provide guests a full day ashore to enjoy this charming city, regarded as one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Otago region was settled by Maori's over four centuries ago, with Scottish migrants establishing a small town in 1848. After gold was discovered Dunedin rapidly developed to (then) become New Zealand's biggest city and the country's industrial and commercial heart, with many ornate heritage buildings dating from this period still standing today. It was the first city outside the to have its own tram system. The Botanic Gardens, New Zealand's first, are located at the northern end of the city on the lower slopes of Signal Hill.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

Orion Deck Plan