Epic Antarctica: From New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands to the Ross Sea to the Peninsula

National Geographic Endurance
National Geographic Endurance
126 Passengers

Thrill along the ice’s edge of remote Antarctic shores—including the Antarctic Peninsula, rarely visited Western Antarctica, the impressive Ross Sea ice shelf, Australia's Macquarie Island, and the sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand. National Geographic Endurance roams free at the bottom of the world on the most untrammeled, adventurous route on this epic voyage. Extraordinary adventure is a guarantee on all of our Antarctica expeditions. Flexibility is a hallmark of our explorations, and often the shipboard day-by-day itinerary will change—so we may take full advantage of rare wildlife sightings, watching whales feed off the bow, or perfect conditions for a late day kayaking excursion.

• Discover four stunningly beautiful wilderness regions aboard the ultimate polar ship, National Geographic Endurance, providing unprecedented access, opening up unexplored opportunities in polar environments, and making polar travel safe, smooth, thrilling, and luxurious.
• In the company of a top expedition team, encounter the big tabular icebergs of the Antarctic Peninsula and remote West Antarctica, and sail along the spectacular Ross Ice Shelf, a wall of ice towering over the water by as much as 200 feet.
• Explore the seldom-visited sub-Antarctic islands of New Zealand and Australia, UNESCO sites that are havens for wildlife.
• Follow the routes of Scott, Ross, Amundsen and Shackleton.
• Be active daily. Paddle a kayak in pristine bays, hike the landscape, and Zodiac cruise amid the bergs. Capture your best images with a National Geographic photographer by your side.
• Observe unique and abundant wildlife: endemic royal penguins, gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins—and the largest of the species, the emperor penguin. Visit the world’s largest colony of Adélie penguins, and see 100,000 pairs of king penguins on a single beach!

Please note that although international airline tickets are not included in the trip cost the dates of this trip include your travel dates (based on USA/USA travel).

Brief Itinerary

Days 1 to 3 Home/Auckland, New Zealand
Days 4 to 7 Fly to Bluff, N.Z./Embark Ship/Explore New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands
Day 8 At Sea
Days 9 & 10 Macquarie Island, Australia
Days 11 & 12 At Sea
Days 13 to 20 Exploring the Ross Sea
Days 21 to 27 Exploring West Antarctica
Days 28 to 32 Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula
Day 33 At Sea/Drake Passage
Day 34 Ushuaia, Argentina/Disembark/Fly to Buenos Aires
Day 35 Buenos Aires/Home

Days 1 & 2 — Home/Auckland, New Zealand

Depart on an overnight flight, crossing the International Dateline, and arriving in Auckland (international flight not included), where we check in to our hotel.

Days 4 to 7 — Fly to Bluff, N.Z./Embark Ship/Explore New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands

Today we fly to the town of Bluff, one of the oldest European settlements in New Zealand, where we embark our ship. Settle in to life aboard National Geographic Endurance and spend three incredible days discovering New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands. Located south of the New Zealand mainland in the remote Southern Ocean, these wild and beautiful islands are home to abundant and unique wildlife, with many species of birds, plants and invertebrates found nowhere else in the world. The entire marine landscape here is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. We have special permission to explore these strictly regulated islands, which are protected at the highest level of conservation status by the New Zealand government, and considered a “bird central” among top ornithologists around the world.

Keeping a flexible weather-dependent schedule, we plan to explore several intriguing islands. Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest subantarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds: the 99 recorded species include albatross, Antarctic terns and Snares crested penguins. The Auckland Islands are the largest of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, with the richest flora, prolific birdlife, and an interesting human history. Conditions permitting, we cruise in Zodiacs to Enderby Island to view a large New Zealand sea lion colony with pups all jostling for position. If we are fortunate, we may see rare yellow-eyed penguins as they move to and from their nests in the forests beyond the beach.

Days 9 & 10 — Macquarie Island, Australia

On these days we plan to visit Macquarie Island, the exposed crest of an undersea ridge where the Indo-Australian and Pacific tectonic plates converge. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a large variety of wildlife, including thousands of seals and millions of penguins. Four species of penguin breed here. The endemic royal penguin has a population estimated at 850,000. Gentoo and southern rockhopper penguins also breed there. And imagine landing on a single beach thronged with 150,000 pairs of king penguins—one of the world’s largest colonies!

Days 13 to 20 — Exploring the Ross Sea

Navigate some of the most remote regions of the planet, as you explore the Ross Sea, just like Scott, Shackleton, and Ross (the 19th-century explorer for whom this sea is named). Here, we will see the impressive Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest, and the Transantarctic Mountain Chain. Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf is enormous, covering 182,000 square miles–the size of France—and the edge of the ice shelf towers as high as 200 feet above the water’s surface, with the majority of the ice below the waterline. The Ross Ice Shelf plays an important role in stabilizing the Antarctic ice sheet, buttressing the ice that is constantly moving over the land surface.

Your journey to this unique part of the Antarctic waters will likely include stops at several small islands at the bottom of the world for opportunities to hike and explore via Zodiac and kayak. Our expert staff will craft an expedition where you will learn, see, and experience more. We’ll spot colonies of Adelie penguins, lazy seals, and majestic whales. We plan to visit Coulman Island, where we can see and photograph Emperor penguins, the largest of all penguins—an average bird stands some 45 inches tall and was the subject of the beloved film, March of the Penguins.

Days 21 to 27 — Exploring West Antarctica

This part of the planet is big, bold and full of adventure and magnificent scenery. The new National Geographic Endurance will be in full expedition mode, granting thrilling opportunities to crunch through thick ice and explore places few have seen. Rely on the planet’s best ice team as you probe the ice’s edge for wildlife, from seabirds to whales. Activities throughout our journey are always weather and ice dependent. Your captain will look for spots to “park” the ship in the pack ice, allowing guests the unique thrill of disembarking onto a frozen sea—for ice walks, cross-country skiing forays, and show-shoe hikes. Our undersea specialist captures images from the deep, revealing the hardy marine life beneath the ice. Always interesting, it can also be pioneering in this distant part of the world. There will be time, too, to relax in the library, head up to the Bridge to scan for marine life, unwind in the sauna or Yoga Room, and of course, hear presentations from our staff.

Days 28 to 32 — Exploring the Antarctic Peninsula

With 24 hours of daylight, we have ample opportunity to explore the Antarctic Peninsula and the surrounding islands. In keeping with the nature of an expedition, the schedule throughout is flexible so that we can take advantage of the unexpected—watching whales at play off the bow, taking an after-dinner Zodiac cruise, or heading out on an unplanned excursion.

We anticipate offering opportunities each day to hike, kayak among the ice floes, and experience close encounters with wildlife. You may have the thrill of watching our powerful ship crunch through the pack ice, or step ashore to thousands of Adélie and gentoo penguins. You’ll learn how climate change affects the penguin populations, and how best to capture images of penguins from a National Geographic photographer. Back aboard, our undersea specialist may present video from that day’s dive or show rare images taken up to 1,000 feet below the surface using our ROV.

Day 33 — At Sea/Drake Passage

On our final day aboard, enjoy one last chance to view the marine life of these southern waters. While crossing the legendary Drake Passage, spot albatross and other seabirds that glide alongside the ship.  Gather to toast our epic voyage at a festive farewell dinner.

Day 34 — Ushuaia, Argentina/Disembark/Fly to Buenos Aires

After breakfast, we disembark in Ushuaia and have an overview of the southernmost city in the world. Later, we head to the airport for our private charter flight to Buenos Aires, where we check in to the hotel.

Day 35 — Buenos Aires/Home

This morning we have an overview of the city’s Beaux-Art palaces and the famous balcony forever associated with Eva Peron. Later, we transfer to the airport for overnight flights home (international flight not included).

* Itinerary may be subject to change

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Click on the tour dates in the left column to view a trip itinerary. Point MOUSE at Cabin Category to view DETAILED description.

Dates shown are USA/USA however international airfare is NOT included in trip price.

Free Bar Tab and Crew Gratuities are included in the listed rates.

Kayaking is available as an additional activity available to all passengers and arranged onboard free of charge.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.


   Category 1
Fore Deck (deck 4) with two large windows, Alcove seating, Relax chair. 183 square ft.
   Category 2
Fore Deck (deck 4) with two large windows, Alcove seating, Relax chair. 205 square ft.
   Category 3
Main Deck (deck 5)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 205 square ft.
   Category 4
Lounge Deck (deck 6)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 205 square ft.
   Category 5
Bridge Deck (deck 7)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 205 square ft.
   Category 6
Bridge Deck (deck 7)—Junior Balcony Suite with large balcony, sofa bed. 344 square ft.
   Category 7
Bridge Deck (deck 7)—Large Balcony Suite with large balcony, sofa bed, bathtub, walk-in closet. 430 square ft.
   Category A Solo
Main Deck (deck 5)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 140 square ft.
   Category B Solo
Lounge Deck (deck 6)—Suite with balcony and sofa. 140 square ft.