Mawson’s Antarctica Commonwealth Bay: Bluff to Bluff Cruise

During the peak of the southern hemisphere summer, Orion offers travelers a unique opportunity to venture to the Continent of Antarctica. Orion cruises from Australia and New Zealand, crossing the Antarctic Circle to places redolent with history and adventure. Along the way the wildlife you encounter will astound you. The Sub-Antarctic islands are home to penguin breeding colonies numbering in the millions, to Elephant Seals and Hooker Sea Lions, and the endangered Wandering Albatross. For many, the highlight of the voyage is a visit to Cape Denison, the site of Sir Douglas Mawson’s hut from the historic 1911-1913 expedition; a time capsule from a great era of exploration. This is one of the most exclusive places on earth – more people have stood at the top of Mt Everest than have stood inside this historic hut. The voyage also takes you to Port Martin, the site of 100 grounded icebergs, allowing guests to get up close and view these amazing sites; and Dumont d’Urville, the French base renowned for its rich local wildlife, including colonies of Adelie and Emperor penguins.

Day 1

    Bluff (Invercargill), New Zealand

    The largest urban centre in New Zealand's Southland is Invercargill, a city of 49,000 people. Visitors come to admire the elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings, gardens and landscaped parks. The fishing port of Bluff is a half hour drive south from Invercargill and is home to the famous Bluff oyster and a lively annual seafood festival. From Bluff, visitors can catch a ferry to Stewart Island - a haven for native bird life and the only place in New Zealand where you can readily see kiwi in their natural habitat.

    For guests embarking in Bluff we offer a complementary transfer from Invercargill to Orion on the day of Orion’s departure. The transfer is from the city centre departing at about 2pm. Subject to minimum numbers we will also offer a transfer from the Invercargill airport at times to coincide with flight arrivals. If we are able to confirm an airport transfer this will be advised on your travel documents, otherwise a taxi from the airport to the city centre is about $15.

    Day 2

      Snares Islands, New Zealand

      Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest sub-Antarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. Weather permitting you'll launch your Zodiacs for an exploration of the sheltered eastern coastline as the island's wildlife protection program precludes landings. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds, 99 recorded species including albatross, Antarctic Terns and Snares Crested Penguins.

      Day 3

        Auckland Island, New Zealand

        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 Harbour 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. You may cruise to Victoria Passage, a dramatic opening at the end of Carnley Harbor. The birdlife of Auckland Island is profuse.

        Days 4-7

          At Sea

          At Sea

          Days 8-12

            Commonwealth Bay Region

            On January 8, 1912 Sir Douglas Mawson landed on the Antarctic continent after a journey from Hobart that took 36 days aboard the Aurora, a ship of just 612 tons. During these voyages to the Antarctic continent, Orion will be positioned in and around Commonwealth Bay on the Adelie coast of Antarctica. Your expedition team will lead a variety of opportunistic landings which may include sites at Cape Denison, Port Martin and Dumont d'Urville. In each instance landings ashore and Zodiac explorations are wholly subject to prevailing weather conditions, in an area Mawson described as "the home of the blizzard".

            Days 13-15

              At Sea

              At Sea

              Day 16

                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 you will collect the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife rangers who will be your guides.

                Sandy Bay, situated halfway down the island's eastern seaboard, is your 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 17-18

                  At Sea

                  At Sea

                  Day 19

                    Bluff (Invercargill), New Zealand

                    The largest urban centre in New Zealand's Southland is Invercargill, a city of 49,000 people. Visitors come to admire the elegant Victorian and Edwardian buildings, gardens and landscaped parks. The fishing port of Bluff is a half hour drive south from Invercargill and is home to the famous Bluff oyster and a lively annual seafood festival. From Bluff, visitors can catch a ferry to Stewart Island - a haven for native bird life and the only place in New Zealand where you can readily see kiwi in their natural habitat.

                    For guests disembarking in Bluff we offer a complementary transfer from Orion to Invercargill on the day of arrival. The transfer is to the city centre, or to the Invercargill airport.

                    Triple Cabin Discounts:
                    A passenger booking with two additional adults saves 50% off the fare, children aged 2-15 with two adults save 75%.
                    CRUISE FARE – WHAT’S INCLUDED: Included in your cruise fare are accommodations as booked, cruise transportation, all meals onboard, 24-hour room service, entertainment and educational programmes, use of ship's sporting equipment and facilities, port & handling charges, Zodiac excursions and tender transfers, access to the ship's library, Govt. Fees & Taxes. Fares also include the services of 75 experienced crew.

                    CRUISE FARE – WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED: Fares do not include airfare and items of a personal nature, including but not limited to: travel and medical insurance, laundry charges, shopping onboard, bar expenses, hair dressing and massage treatments, optional shore experiences, medical treatment, telephone and internet charges.

                    Although the 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.