Sandy Bay, situated halfway down the island's eastern seaboard, is the 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 tussockcovered 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.
As seas go, this one is quite shallow and is bounded in the east by the coastal mountains of Victoria Land and in the south by the Ross Ice Shelf. The shelf is a flat topped body of snow covered glacial ice about the size of France which largely floats except along the coastlines. The southern part of the Ross Sea is not navigable for some 9 months of the year and over the summer season between January and March very few ships venture here, and those that do principally supply the various scientific stations.
The Ross Sea coast extends from the ice shelf northwards until it reaches the very tip of Victoria Land and Cape Adare. During our time in the Ross Sea Region we will attempt a variety of opportunistic landings, subject to weather conditions. These may include -
Cape Hallett - Wet landing
Following an intricate approach to Cape Hallett through thick pack ice, we land to inspect the site of an abandoned US/New Zealand base established during the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58. It is a magnificent area with giant glaciers and surrounding mountains of over 4,000 metres. Weddell Seals and Adelie Penguins abound.
Cape Terra Nova Bay - Wet landing
First discovered by Scott during his 1901-1904 expedition, the site is now occupied by an Italian base which operates a summer research station. If permission is granted, we hope to visit the base. It is then intended to cruise by the massive Drygalski ice tongue, which extends 70km out into the Ross Sea as part of the David Glacier.
Inexpressible Island – Wet landing
Home to a small Adelie Penguin rookery this low bleak Island is the site of an amazing story of survival where Scotts Northern party were forced to over-winter in a snow cave. Two plaques mark the site of the cave were the men suffered until their departure on the 30th September 1912 for Ross Island across the sea ice. This is a rarely visited site which is challenging to access but if a visit is successful it is not hard to imagine why the men called this place “Hell with a capital H.”
Cape Evans - Wet landing
Scott's 1911 Terra Nova Hut is the largest historic building in Antarctica. Used in the 1910 to 1913 British Antarctic Expedition, it served as the base for extensive scientific research and surveys as well as Scott's journey to the South Pole. Much of Scott's equipment is well preserved and it is hoped we can enter the hut with guides. Shredded seaweed sown into Jut quilting is used as an insulating layer between the inner and outer cladding of the wood hut. Ten men of Shackleton's ill-fated imperial trans-Antarctic expeditions were marooned here in 1915 after their ship Aurora was blown out to sea and unable to return. Two of Aurora's anchors remain to this day on the beach in front of the hut. Entering the hut provides a window into the historic age of Antarctic exploration and discovery.
Cape Royds - Wet landing
Shackleton's hut at Cape Royds was constructed during the British Antarctic Nimrod Expedition in 1907-1909. Unable to land at King Edward VII Island, he then entered McMurdo Sound. Ice conditions prevented him reaching Hut Point, the site of Scott's hut, so he selected Cape Royds for winter quarters. Adelie Penguins are slowly reclaiming the site which is the world's southernmost penguin rookery. The New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust conservation program has successfully conserved a substantial number of fascinating artifacts in this hut, in such a way that at first sight the hut appears to have only recently been abandoned.
Possession Islands - Wet landing
Subject to sea and ice conditions, we hope to make a landing at the rarely visited small and craggy Possession Islands. One of these, Foyn Island, is covered with Adelie Penguins. The islands were discovered by James Clark Ross and Francis Crozier in 1841 during their expedition to locate the south magnetic pole.
Cape Adare - Wet landing
Cape Adare was discovered by Captain James Ross in 1841. We plan to visit Borchgrevink's Hut from the British Southern Cross Expedition, the first to ever spend winter in the Antarctic, in 1899. Up to 1,000,000 Adelie Penguins have reclaimed the site, which is spectacular, surrounded by black volcanic hills. High above the huts is the lonely grave and cross of Borchgrevink's biologist.
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.
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.