Day 1 Auckland, New Zealand – Embark
In the Maori language Auckland is known as Tamaki Makau Rau, the city of 100 lovers, having earned the name because it was a place desired by all and conquered by many. The setting is spectacular, the city being nestled upon three harbours - the Waitemata, the Manukau and the Kaipara. Don't miss the chance to dine out in Auckland as the city has perfected the style of cuisine called "Pacific Rim", blending Asian and Pacific flavours. Seafood features prominently on restaurant menus so be sure to try New Zealand green lipped mussels and succulent Clevedon Coast oysters - all matched with an excellent New Zealand wine.
Day 2 Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island, just 90km off the coast from Auckland, was named by Lt. James Cook for the barrier it forms between the Hauraki Gulf and the open sea. On the west coast of the island are steep, forest covered ranges with Mt Hirakimata (Hobson) the highest peak at 621m. On the eastern coast sweeping white sand beaches (including the one you may visit) tidal creeks and wetlands. The absence of possums has allowed the plant life to flourish and Great Barrier Island also has an impressive variety of birds, many of which are threatened and endangered. Although logged extensively in the past much of the island is now covered with regenerating forest and bush and some fine stands of kauri still remain. On the island there are no banks, no traffic lights and just a few shops.
Today it is your teams intention to anchor in Port Fitzroy and make a landing at Bush Beach. From here there is a National Park walking track that you will follow to explore your surroundings on Great Barrier Island.
Day 3 Russell, Bay of Islands
Russell, originally named Kororareka, is a charming historic township in the Bay of Islands. However it was once known as ‘The hell hole of the Pacific’, because it was a shore leave destination for sailors, whalers and traders during the 19th century.
A stroll around the streets will lead you to the Catholic Mission ‘Pompallier’, New Zealand’s oldest surviving Roman Catholic building. Built in 1841-42, under the direction of architect Louis Perret, it was used as a printery, tannery and storehouse for the French Marist mission. Pompallier has undergone extensive award-winning conservation work and is now a working museum where past methods of tanning, printing and bookbinding can be appreciated. Nearby Long Beach is a nice place for a swim. A shuttle bus is included and a guided town walk lasting one hour is available.
Day 4 At Sea
Enjoy the numerous amenities on board the Orion while cruising the South Pacific.
Day 5-6 Norfolk Island
Norfolk Island is rich in History and Culture from Captain Cook's discovery in 1774 to modern times. When the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson in January 1788, Phillip ordered Lieutenant Philip Gidley King to lead a party of fifteen convicts and seven free men to take control of the island and prepare for its commercial development. They arrived on 6 March 1788.
Although much of the land has been cleared for cropping and pasture, the once-dominant Norfolk Island pines remain a notable feature of the landscape. The island has a wide variety of flora; fauna includes geckos, bats, turtles, plentiful fishes, and numerous seabirds.
Before European colonization, most of Norfolk Island was covered with subtropical rain forest, the canopy of which was made of Norfolk Island Pine. Historic attractions include museums, the penal settlement and the culture arising from the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives, who settled on Norfolk after the mutiny of the HMS Bounty.
Historic and beautiful as it is - landings and activities on Norfolk Island are subject to the weather as much as any other isolated oceanic island. Two days have been allocated to allow you to take advantage of the most opportune time to affect the landing. A shuttle bus will be available and self guided explorations of the island are encouraged.
Optional Shoreside Expeditions - all dependent on weather conditions:
INTRODUCTION TO NORFOLK ISLAND Duration: 3 Hours
Price: To be confirmed
HISTORIC CONVICT KINGSTON TOUR Duration: 3 Hours
Price: To be confirmed
NATIONAL PARK HIKING TOUR Duration: 3 hours
Price: To be confirmed
NORFOLK ISLAND FISHING Duration: 4 to 5 hours approximately
Price: To be confirmed
Day 7 Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
"Such a lovely spot of God's creation" was the journal entry of Andrew Cheyne, the first British sandalwood trader to reach Isle of Pines' shores 165 years ago. Known as Kunie to its Melanesian inhabitants, the island is part of the French-Pacific territory New Caledonia. Today there are roughly 2,000 inhabitants, 95% of whom are Melanesians or Kanaks.
For traditional, cultural and social reasons, these indigenous Kunie people are formed into eight tribes, each with their own 'little chief' and governed as a whole by a High Chief.
Anchor in Kuto Bay, famous for its fabulous white sand beach. Wander the island, meet the locals (a little French will come in handy) or swim in the azure waters of the bay. Explore the ruins of the convict settlement that housed 2,000 deported prisoners in the 1870's invite exploration or just grab a mask and fins for snorkeling. A local culture group will also perform for you during your visit.
Day 8 At Sea
Relax on board the sunny decks of your expedition vessel while cruising toward the islands of Vanuatu.
Day 9 Anatom
Anatom Island, also called Aneityum is the southernmost island of Vanuatu. Volcanic in origin, it rises from a fertile coastal plain and valleys to a height of 2,795 feet (852 m). Anatom has a current estimated population of 550 but is believed to have had a population of possibly as large as 12,000 prior to the arrival of the Europeans in 1793. Anatom was a center of sandal wooders, whalers, and missionaries in the New Hebrides in the 19th century where its valuable stands of kauri pine were once exploited. The introduced European diseases and black-birding are believed to have been the major factors in the depopulation. Stone ruins on Anatom Island once housed the largest missionary church in the southern hemisphere.
The island is surrounded by coral reefs and beaches. Orion guests will enjoy a day of snorkeling to view the beautiful coral reefs and swimming or just relax on the white sand beaches.
Day 10 Tanna Island, Vanuatu
As Orion approaches this morning, the first thing you will sight is the island's active volcano, Mount Yasur, shortly after which Orion will drop her anchor outside Port Resolution, named by Captain James Cook in 1774.
Tanna is also known for the Jon Frum religious movement. Tanna is the origin of the region's Cargo Cults and ever since World War II the locals still expect Jon "Frum" America to bring wealth from over the sea. The leaders of the John Frum cult, along with several other cultural groups representing the people of Tanna will greet you on the beach for a large welcome ceremony. Take a locally guided walk through the village, relax in a thermal pool on the beach or snorkel on the reefs inside Port Resolution.
Upon arrival on Tanna Island you will be welcomed with an exciting cultural display. Spend a memorable day enjoying activities such as guided tours of the village, numerous cultural performances, access to the hot pools for a soak and swimming from the beach. Local string bands will entertain you and we expect a visit from leaders of the John Frum cult to complete your day in paradise!
The Optional Shoreside Expedition to the erupting Yasur Volcano is not to be missed, but it is not for the faint hearted either as you trek up the side of a rumbling shaking volcano.
Optional Shoreside Expeditions:
YASUR VOLCANO EXPERIENCE Duration: approx 3 hours – departing late afternoon
Cost: $90 per person
Day 11 Port Vila, Vanuatu
Port Vila is the capital and largest town of the republic of Vanuatu, southwestern Pacific Ocean. Located on Mele Bay on the southwest coast of Éfaté, Vila is a port and the commercial centre of the island group.
In the 19th century, French settlers established the municipality of Franceville, which declared independence in 1889 and became the first self-governing nation to practice universal suffrage without distinction of sex or race. Although the population at the time consisted of about 500 native islanders and less than 50 whites, only the latter were permitted to hold office. The town is French in appearance, but the population is multinational, including British, French, Vanuatuans, and Vietnamese. Disembark this morning for your continued journey home.