Birding Downunder: Subantarctic and Chatham Islands

Spirit of Enderby Cruise Ship
Spirit of Enderby
50 Passengers
Ross Sea/East Antarctica/Sub-Antarctic Islands

Listen to the names: Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell, Macquarie and Chatham Islands. They are music to the ears of ‘Birders’. Apart from the Chathams, these islands are probably more isolated now than they were when they were discovered in the late 1700s and early 1800s and were regularly visited by sealers, whalers and government steamers searching for castaway sailors. It is relatively simple to get to the Chatham Islands, but opportunities to visit the others are rare. This expedition includes all of these islands.

The islands occupy the tempestuous latitudes of the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties, but they are also known as the Albatross Latitudes and with good reason. Ten of the world’s albatross species breed in the region; five of them nowhere else but here! In fact, this zone where the air is never still hosts the most diverse collection of seabirds in the world. More than 40 species breed here – that is at least 11 per cent of the entire world’s seabird population.

With the exception of the Chathams, the islands are all designated UNESCO World Heritage sites and are afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments, so passage to their shores is not granted lightly. There are also islands that we visit within the Chatham Islands’ Archipelago with similar status and protection.

This expedition has huge appeal to pelagic enthusiasts, penguin fanatics and those interested in island endemics. Though you don’t have to be a keen birder to enjoy this voyage. People interested in islands and island ecology, botany, geology and an increasing number of photographers have enjoyed this trip immensely, as have those interested in the history of southern ocean discovery and exploration.

Day 1 ― Invercargill

    This evening there will be an informal get together at the hotel for dinner, an excellent opportunity to meet fellow adventurers and some of our expedition team.

Day 2 ― Depart Port of Bluff

Enjoy a visit to the Southland Museum to view the special Subantarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff where we board the Spirit of Enderby.

Day 3 ― The Snares - North East Island

Cruise by Zodiac, if weather and sea conditions are suitable, along the sheltered eastern side of North East Island. We should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbirds. We should also see Cape Pigeons, Antarctic Terns, White-fronted Terns and Red-billed Gulls. There are hundreds of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters nesting here and the Buller’s Albatross also breed here from late December onwards.

Day 4 ― Auckland Islands - Enderby Island

Enderby Island is a great place to view birds and wildlife. We visit Sandy Bay, the main breeding ground for the rare New Zealand (Hooker’s) Sea Lion and just one of three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands. There are chances to observe the Southern Royal Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Auckland Island Shag, Auckland Island Flightless Teal, Auckland Island Banded Dotterel, Auckland Island Tomtit, Bellbird, Pipit, Red-crowned Parakeet, Yellow-eyed Penguin and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. We will also keep a lookout for the rare Subantarctic Snipe. On Derry Castle Reef there is a good chance of seeing the Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and other migratory waders.

Day 5 ― Auckland Islands - Carnley Harbor

These islands have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by and harbor tales of castaways and Coastwatchers. If weather and sea conditions are suitable, energetic expeditioners are able to climb to the South West Cape Shy Albatross colony where Gibson’s Wandering Albatross often nest among the tussocks above the colony.

Day 6 ― At Sea

We can expect some of the best pelagic birding on this leg of the journey from the Auckland Islands to Macquarie Island with great views of species such as the Royal Albatrosses, Wandering Albatrosses, Shy Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, diving-petrel, Little Shearwaters, storm-petrel and, to confuse everybody, numerous prion species.

Days 7 & 8 ― Macquarie Island

The only place in the world where the regal Royal Penguin breeds, this remote outpost supports a breath-taking concentration of wildlife. You will never forget your first experience of visiting a noisy ‘penguin city’ where you will be witness to a thousand chattering, feeding chicks, territorial disputes, petty pilfering and courtship displays: King, Gentoo and Rockhopper Penguins can be seen here. We meet with Park Rangers and seek out the thousands of Southern Elephant Seals lolling on the beaches and along the coast, Redpolls and Imperial Shag can often be spotted.

Day 9 ― At Sea

We will be keeping a keen lookout for cetaceans, albatross and petrels today, relax in the ship’s bar or catch up on your reading in the library.

Day 10 ― Campbell Island - Perseverance Harbor

We drop anchor in Perseverance Harbor. Once on shore we walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross or to Northwest Bay, passing beautiful megaherbs on the hills. During the day we should see the Campbell Island Shag and Teal, Southern Skua, Antarctic Tern, Dunnock, New Zealand Pipit and, hopefully, the elusive Campbell Island Snipe.

Day 11 ― At Sea

Join us on the bridge, where we keep a keen lookout for species commonly seen in this area: Black-browed Albatross, Campbell Island Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Sooty Shearwater and Little Shearwater. There should be plenty of petrels and, again, the hard to identify prion species.

Day 12 ― Antipodes Island

One of the most isolated, least known and rugged of the Subantarctic Islands; landings are not permitted here, so we cruise along the coast looking for the endemic Antipodes Island and Reischek’s Parakeet. We may also see the Antipodes subspecies of the New Zealand Pipit, and with half the world population of Erect-crested Penguins here, we should encounter one or two as well as Antarctic Terns and Kelp Gulls.

Day 13 ― Bounty Islands

These inhospitable granite islets are home to thousands of Salvin’s Albatross, Erect-crested Penguins, Fulmar Prions and the endemic Bounty Island Shag, the world’s rarest. At sea we should spot Wandering Albatross species, Northern Royal Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Broad-billed Prion, White-chinned Petrel and Black-bellied Storm-Petrels as well as Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.

Day 14 ― At Sea and Pyramid Rock

We continue north towards the Chatham Islands, with similar species accompanying us as yesterday. Towards evening, as we approach the islands, we are closer to the Subantarctic and sub tropical convergence and will see a subtle change in the species composition. Late this afternoon we arrive at the spectacular Pyramid Rock, the only breeding place of the Chatham Island Albatross.

Day 15 ― Chatham Islands - Waitangi

This morning we go ashore on the main island where we might see the endemic Chatham Island Shag and along the coast the Chatham Island Oystercatcher. We visit a private bush reserve on the south coast to see the Chatham Island Warbler, Chatham Island Pigeon and Tui. This afternoon we have another look for the Magenta and Chatham Island Petrels.

Day 16 ― South East Island and Mangere Islands

rrive early morning at South East Island, one of the world’s greatest nature reserves, here we plan to Zodiac cruise to see the endangered Shore Plover. We will also keep our eyes peeled for the Pitt Island Shag. Before we depart the archipelago we visit the Mangere Islands from where the endemic Black Robin was rescued.

Days 17 & 18 ― At Sea

En route to Dunedin we will cross the Chatham Rise, here nutrient-rich waters allow for an overlap between northern pelagic species and birds from southern latitudes. We can expect to see Royal Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Westland Black Petrel, Cook’s Petrel and much more.

Day 19 ― Dunedin

Our adventure ends at this historic Otago Harbor. Early this morning we arrive in port and after a final breakfast we say our farewells before disembarking and transferring by complimentary coach to either a central city point or to the airport.

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Prices do not include Airfare or Government Landing Fees. Single Supplement rates are available at 1.8x the shared rate except for Suites which are 2x the shared rate. Please note that $75,000 Emergency Evacuation Insurance is required on all trips.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

Only show rates under
$ X
Due to COVID-19 trip availability is not being updated. Please contact Polar Cruises to check on specific trips availability.
Per Person USD
Rates Antarctica 2021-22
Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Twin
Superior
Superior Plus
Mini Suite
Heritage Suite
Gov't Landing Fees
$11,250 $12,150 $13,650 $14,700 $15,400 $16,500 $800 
$7,750 $8,300 $8,800 $9,600 $9,900 $10,600 $800 
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 $23,000 $25,000 $28,300 $29,400 $32,000 $880 
 $23,000 $25,000 $28,300 $29,400 $32,000 $880 
No trips meet your criteria. Please increase the budget above to view more results.
Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Prices do not include Airfare or Government Landing Fees. Single Supplement rates are available at 1.8x the shared rate except for Suites which are 2x the shared rate. Please note that $75,000 Emergency Evacuation Insurance is required on all trips.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

DeckPlan_SpiritOfEnderby

   Heritage Suite
Has a large lounge area, a separate bedroom with double bed, a single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. There are large forward and side facing windows to allow great views.
   Mini Suite
Has a separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or a sofa in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, desk and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. The mini suite has windows.
   Superior Plus Cabin
Has two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows. *Cabin 411 has double bed with upper bunk.
   Superior Cabin
Has bunks (an upper and lower berth), wardrobe, drawers, desk and private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
   Main Deck Cabin
Has two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, desk and washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with the other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
   Main Deck Triple
Has one bunk (upper & lower berth) and one lower berth, wardrobe, drawers, desk and washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with the other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.