Arrive in Dunedin, New Zealand. The Otago region was settled by Maori's over four centuries ago, with Scottish migrants establishing a small town in 1848. After gold was discovered Dunedin rapidly developed to (then) become New Zealand's biggest city and the country's industrial and commercial heart, with many ornate heritage buildings dating from this period still standing today. It was the first city outside the to have its own tram system. The Botanic Gardens, New Zealand's first, are located at the northern end of the city on the lower slopes of Signal Hill.
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.
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.
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.
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".
Set on the River Derwent, Hobart is very much a city of the sea with views of the Derwent estuary appearing around every corner. Historic 19th century waterfront warehouses remain, still bordering the commercial fishing harbour, though today it is easier to feast on seafood at one of the restaurants they now house. Hobart is the finishing line for the famed blue water Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and its deep harbour precinct once bustled with whalers, soldiers, petty bureaucrats and opportunistic businessmen. A walk through the town will reveal that the city has resisted the pressure to move with the times, having retained and preserved old buildings such as the Parliament built by convicts in the 1830's.