Birding Down Under 2015 Cruise

E Bell
A beautiful ocean view.
A. Russ
Views from the Spirit of Enderby's Western Pacific Odyssey
Travelers photographing the subantarctic landscape.
K Ovsyanikova
The Red-crowned Parakeet.
L Tough
Tree cover on the islands of New Zealand.
A. Russ
Views from the Spirit of Enderby's Western Pacific Odyssey
Sea bird
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 17-day expedition, one of a number operated each year by Heritage Expeditions, is the only one to include all of these islands.

Day 1

    Arrive at Invercargill

    Arrive at Invercargill, New Zealand’s southernmost city. Established by Scottish settlers, its wealth of rich farmland means that sheep and dairy farms predominate. This evening, meet your fellow adventurers and some of your ship's expedition team at an informal get-together and dinner.

    Day 2

      Depart Port of Bluff

      Today, enjoy a visit to the Southland Museum to view the special Subantarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff where you can embark your ship, the Spirit of Enderby.

      Day 3

        The Snares - North East Island

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

        Day 4

          Auckland Islands - Enderby Island

          Enderby Island is a great place to view birds and wildlife. 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. Be sure to 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 Harbour

            These islands have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by and harbour 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 nest amongst the tussocks above the colony.

            Day 6

              At Sea

              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

                Arrive at Macquarie Island, the only place in the world to see the breeding Royal Penguin – and there is an abundance of these here as this remote outpost supports a breath-taking concentration of wildlife. You won't soon forget your first experience of a noisy ‘penguin city’ where you are 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

                  At sea en route to Campbell Island, see a broad range of species, such as while traveling to Macquarie Island from the Auckland Islands.

                  Day 10

                    Campbell Island - Perseverance Harbor

                    Drop anchor in Perseverance Harbour. Once on shore walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross or to Northwest Bay, pass beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. During the day ashore you 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 your crew and fellow passengers on the bridge, where all eyes are on 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

                        Antipodes Island is one of the most isolated, least known and rugged of New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands. Landings are not permitted here, so plan to cruise along the coastline by Zodiac looking for the endemic Antipodes Island and Reischek’s Parakeet. You may also see the Antipodes subspecies of the New Zealand Pipit, and with half the world population of Erect-crested Penguins here, you 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 you 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

                            As the Spirit of Enderby continues toward the Chatham Archipelago, there are excellent opportunities for pelagic birding. Towards evening as your ship approaches the islands, take note that you are closer to the Subantarctic and sub tropical convergence and you can begin to see a subtle change in the species composition. Late this afternoon arrive at the spectacular Pyramid Rock, the only breeding place of the Chatham Island Albatross.

                            Day 15

                              Chatham Islands - Waitangi

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

                              Day 16

                                South East Island and Mangere Islands

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

                                Days 17-18

                                  At Sea

                                  En route to Dunedin cross what is known as the Chatham Rise. It is a relatively shallow area of water, compared with the rest of the surrounding ocean, and it is also one of the best places for pelagic watching with an overlap of both northern or more temperate species and birds from southern latitudes. Expect to see Royal Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Westland Black Petrel, Cook’s Petrel and much more.

                                  Day 19

                                    Disembark in Dunedin, New Zealand

                                    Your adventure ends at this historic Otago Harbour. Early this morning arrive in port and after a final breakfast, say your farewells before disembarking and transferring by complimentary coach to either a central city point or to the airport.
                                     Main Deck TripleMain deckSuperiorSuperior PlusMini SuiteHeritage Suite
                                    Landing Fees: $800 per person
                                    - Travel Insurance is mandatory for all passengers aboard the Spirit of Enderby.
                                    - Single clients are matched with a sharer of the same sex in a twin-share cabin. Payment of a single supplement guarantees a single cabin. The single supplement is 1.8 times the price of the voyage with the exception of the suites which are double the single rate.
                                    - Included in the cruise fare is a pre-departure hotel night, group dinner as well as breakfast the next day prior to embarkation.
                                    Not included in cruise fare: Government landing fees.

                                    Landings at the Subantarctic Islands are by permit only as administered by the governments of New Zealand and Australia. No landings are permitted at Snares, Antipodes and Bounty Islands and South East in the Chatham Island group.

                                    Heritage Expeditions is committed to providing the highest quality natural history expeditions and specialize in remote regions and difficult to see species. As part of our expeditions we have for many years used the practice of chumming and/or oiling to give people the opportunity to see species that they are unlikely to see otherwise or appreciate aspects of seabird ecology such as impacts from interactions with fishing vessels. Heritage Expeditions believes that chumming has an important part to play in a successful seabird watching expedition but it is a tool which is used with moderation and always for a specific purpose.

                                    Circumstances may be encountered during our voyage which will make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. These circumstances include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed during the voyage.