Birding Downunder

Spirit of Enderby Cruise Ship
Spirit of Enderby
50 Passengers
Ross Sea

Listen to the names: Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie. These are islands only ever visited by a handful of explorers, unlucky castaways, government scientists and a few Expedition Cruises. The Subantarctic Islands occupy the tempestuous latitudes of the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties but they are known also 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 down here - that is at least 11 percent of the entire world’s seabird population.

Day 1: Invercargill

Meet this evening for an informal get-together at the hotel for dinner, meet fellow adventurers on your voyage 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, also Cape Pigeons, Antarctic Terns, White-fronted Terns and Red-billed Gulls. There are hundreds of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters nesting here and Buller’s Albatross breeding 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 perhaps 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 coast-watchers. 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 nest amongst 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 Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Shy Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, diving-petrel, Little Shearwater, storm-petrel and to confuse everybody, numerous prion species.

Days 7 - 8: Macquarie Island

The only place in the world where the beautiful Royal Penguin breeds, this remote outpost supports a breathtaking concentration of wildlife. You will never forget your first experience of 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 also 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 where 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 will walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross or to Northwest Bay, passing beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. During the day ashore we should see the Campbell Island Shag, Southern Skua, Antarctic Tern, Dunnock, New Zealand Pipit, Campbell Island Teal 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: The 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-Petrel as well as Wilson’s Storm-Petrel.

Day 14: At Sea

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 we see a subtle change in the species composition. This evening we cruise off the south coast of the main island where the critically endangered Magenta Petrel breeds and the Chatham Petrel has been seen on previous expeditions.

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 evening we have another look for the Magenta and Chatham Island Petrels.

Day 16: Pyramid Rock and South East Island

Arrive early morning at the spectacular Pyramid Rock, the only breeding place of the Chatham Island Albatross. Then at South East Island, one of the world’s greatest nature reserves, we 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 the historic Port of Otago. We bid farewell to our fellow voyagers, to enjoy a transfer to the city or airport.

To allow time for disembarkation procedures we do not recommend booking flights from Dunedin before midday.

During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed. Landings at the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand are by permit only as administered by the Government of New Zealand. No landings are permitted at The Snares.

* 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.

Kayaking on: Forgotten Islands of the South Pacific, Dec 14th - $550/person, Galapagos of the Southern Ocean, Dec 21 - $975/person.

All trips subject to possible fuel surcharge.

Spirit of Enderby Deck Plan