First offered in 2007, the "WPO" is known as a "must do" expedition for any birder because of the opportunities this voyage provides to see some of the rarest pelagic seabirds in the world. This 29-day adventure on the Akademik Shokalskiy, led by expert birding guides, cruises on a route through the South Pacific from Auckland, New Zealand to Yokohama, Japan. If you tire of the wildlife viewing, you also have numerous opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, and relaxation. Visit Papua New Guinea, the Caroline Islands, Honiara, Kolombangara Island, Makira Island, New Ireland, Norfolk Island, Torishima, and Yokohama!
Sail for the rich waters of the Hauraki Gulf where there are numerous speciality seabirds
Cruise across the New Britain Trench, an area known to be extremely rich in cetaceans
See short-tailed albatrosses and their nesting sites on Torishima Island
Spend the morning exploring the beauty of Great Barrier Island. Defining the eastern extent of the Hauraki Gulf, this beautiful island is largely forest-covered and there will be opportunities to explore ashore or join a Zodiac cruise. In the afternoon, we will sail into the Hauraki Gulf. Continuing northwards we have had considerable success with finding the critically endangered New Zealand Storm-petrel in the water of the northern Hauraki Gulf.
Wake this morning in the beautifully protected and historic waters of the Bay of Islands. After breakfast, there will be an opportunity to explore ashore where you might be fortunate enough to find local endemics including saddleback and robins. In the evening, we bid goodbye to New Zealand and set our course northwards, passing Cape Reinga.
After clearing Australian Customs (please note a visa may be required), spend most of the day at Norfolk Island’s remnant forest, home to the three endemics – Norfolk Island Parakeet, Slender-billed Whiteeye, Norfolk Robin and Norfolk Gerygone.
New Caledonia is a fragment of the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana. This small and tropical island has been described as a taste of France in the Pacific, where Melanesian traditions blend with French sophistication. Sail along the southern shores of New Caledonia this morning and amongst the species we will be looking for is the New Caledonian Storm-petrel. Head to the forested slopes of Mount Koghi for the afternoon. This is often the best place to find several specialities including New Caledonian Goshawk, South Melanesian Cuckooshrike, Streaked Fantail, Southern Shrikebill, New Caledonian Crow and New Caledonian Grassbird as well as Striated Starling and Metallic Pigeon, before returning to the ship and enjoying an evening in port.
We plan to depart from Noumea very early this morning to ensure we arrive early to Parc Provincial de la Rivière Bleue. This reserve is home to the unique Kagu, we hope to get good views of this extraordinary bird as well as many other endemics and localised species.
Located just a few miles offshore from Makira Island, Santa Ana is one of the most easterly of the main islands in the Solomon Islands archipelago. Santa Ana has a distinctive avifauna so we can expect to find an interesting mixture of birds including small island species such as Silver-capped Fruit-dove mixed with some of the Makiran endemics like White-headed Fruit-dove, Sooty Myzomela, Makira Honeyeater, Makira Flycatcher and White-collared Monarch. Santa Ana is also home to an endemic and highly distinctive subspecies of Rufous Fantail and we will also be looking for Sanford’s (Solomon) Sea-eagle and Oriole Whistler.
Makira Island is located in the eastern Solomons. Anuta is a small inshore island on the south shore. Makira Island holds its own treasures, including the White-headed Fruit-dove, Chestnut-bellied Imperial-pigeon, Makira Honeyeater (San Cristobal Melidectes), San Cristobal Starling, Makira Flycatcher, Makira Cicadabird, White-collared Monarch, Sooty Myzomela and Mottled Flowerpecker.
Anchor off Honiara and depart in the early morning into the forested mountains behind Honiara, here we are on the lookout for a number of the many Guadacanal endemics.The birding here is quite exceptional and there is the potential for a good list of endemics and localized specialties including Ultramarine Kingfisher, Yellow-eyed, White-bellied and Solomons Cuckooshrikes, Common Cicadabird, Chestnut-bellied and Black-and-white Monarch, Steel-blue Flycatcher, Midget Flowerpecker, Brown-winged and Singing Starling, Yellow-faced Myna, Olive-backed Sunbird and the Black-headed Myzomela.
Located in the New Georgia group of islands, Tetepare is an excellent example of a community conservation project as the entire island has been set aside as a community run reserve. it is the largest uninhabited tropical island in the Southern Hemisphere and there are a number of new Solomon endemics to look for here including the highly localised Dark-eyed White-eye. Other possibilities include Melanesian Scrubfowl, Claret-breasted Fruit Dove, Island Imperial-pigeon, Buffheaded Coucal, Crimson-rumped Myzomela, Cockerell’s Fantail, Kolombangara Monarch and, if we are extremely fortunate, both the Nicobar Pigeon and the extremely poorly known Solomons Nightjar.
Kolombangara is a dormant or semi-extinct volcano. Birdlife is generally plentiful and we hope to see the spectacular Sanford’s (Solomon) Sea-eagle, Cardinal, Duchess and Meek’s Lorikeets, Kolombangara and White-capped Monarchs, Crimson-rumped Myzomela, Ducorps’ Cockatoo and Metallic and Singing Starling. We may also have an opportunity to look for the elusive Roviana Rail during our time ashore. We complete customs formalities here prior to departing the Solomon Islands tonight.
Today the ship is at sea near the Bougainville and the New Britain Trench. Experience shows that it is a very productive area and it is likely to see Heinroth’s Shearwater, it is also great for cetaceans.
During these days at sea, the ship crosses the equator – a cause for celebration! There are a number of species to be on the lookout for, including Bulwer’s Petrel, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, White-tailed Tropicbird, White and Sooty Terns and the Frigate Bird.
We will enter the protected (and historic) waters of the Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon this morning. Once we are clear of Customs we will head ashore and join the guides birding on the main island of Weno. You can hope to see species such as Purple-capped Fruit-dove, Oceanic Flycatcher, Caroline Reed Warbler, Caroline Islands Swiftlet, Caroline Islands White-eye, Micronesian Myzomela and Micronesian Starling. The next morning there will be an option to take a long Zodiac ride to Tol South Island where after a very demanding climb (especially in the heat and humidity of these islands) there is a reasonable chance of seeing the endemic Teardop (or Great Truk) White-eye and Chuuk Monarch. Alternatively join our expedition guides exploring the island of Dublon or take the opportunity for a snorkel during the morning.
It’s a long-haul to the Bonin Islands and the birding can be quiet, but there is potentially some good sightings including Matsudaira’s and Tristram’s Storm-Petrel, Bonin and Bulwer’s Petrels, Wedge-tailed and Bannerman’s Shearwaters.
We will complete Customs and arrive into Japan at the largest of the Bonin Islands, Chichi-jima, before exploring the settlement and the surrounding area. During the afternoon we will look for the critically endangered Bryan’s Shearwater. This species is only known to breed on a small islet off Chichi-jima
Landings are not permitted at Torishima Island, but you can cruise close by in hopes of spotting the Short-tailed or Steller’s Albatross. Other species in the vicinity include the Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses, Streaked Shearwater, and both Tristam’s and Matsudaira’s Storm-petrels.
Located in the Izu Islands archipelago, Hachijo-Jima is a picturesque subtropical volcanic island. The island’s two main mountains are the volcanoes Mt Mihara in the south-east and Mt Nishi in the north-west. The island is home to the endemic Izu Thrush, Ijima’s Leaf-warbler and Owston’s Tit. We will also look for Japanese Wood Pigeon, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker and Japanese (Izu) Robin.
Day 29: Yokohama, Japan | Disembark
After breakfast and completing Japanese arrival formalities, disembark the Akademik Shokalskiy. Bid farewell to your fellow voyagers and board a complimentary transfer from the ship to Yokohama City Air Terminal.
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Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
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One bunk (one upper and one lower berth), writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
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Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
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Separate bedroom with a double bed and a sofa in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Mini Suites have windows.
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Large lounge area, separate bedroom with double bed and a sofa in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Large forward and side facing windows allow great views.
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Main Deck Triple
One bunk (one upper abd ibe lower berth) and one additional lower berth, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private washbasin. Nearby shower and toilet facilities are shared with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
This trip includes:
Landing fees, pre/post cruise transfers, one night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (incl. dinner/breakfast), all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions.
This trip does not include:
All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!