Have questions? We're here.

Birding Down Under: Subantarctic and Chatham Islands

Example 17 Day Cruise aboard Heritage Adventurer
Talk with an expert
Build your ideal South Pacific trip. Call 1.406.541.2677
Start Planning My Trip
Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell, Macquarie, and the Chatham Islands are only a few of the names. They are a delight to 'Birders.' Except for the Chathams, these islands are probably more isolated than they were when they were discovered in the late 1700s and early 1800s and were frequently visited by sealers, whalers, and government steamers looking for castaway seamen. While access to the Chatham Islands is reasonably straightforward, opportunities to visit the remaining islands are few and far between. This 17-day Heritage Adventurer excursion is the only one to visit all of these islands. Except for the Chathams, all of the islands are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are protected at the highest level by the Australian and New Zealand governments.
Highlights
  • Visit Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell, Macquarie & Chatham.
  • See the Albatross Latitudes, where ten different albatross species breed.
  • Marvel at the most diverse collection of seabirds in the world.
  • Learn about island ecology, botany, geology, and local history.
Places Visited
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.
0

Full Itinerary

Expand All

Day 1: Arrive at Queenstown

  • 1 Dinner
Make your way to your designated hotel where you will spend the first night of the expedition. This evening there will be an informal get-together at the hotel for dinner; an excellent opportunity to meet fellow adventurers on your voyage and some of our expedition team.

Day 2: Port of Bluff | Embark

Enjoy breakfast in the hotel restaurant and have the morning free to explore Queenstown before returning to the hotel for lunch and departing for the Port of Bluff to embark your ship, Heritage Adventurer. 

Day 3: The Snares | North East Island

If weather and sea conditions are suitable, cruise by Zodiac along the sheltered eastern side of North East Island. You should see the endemic Snares crested penguin, Snares Island tomtit, and fernbirds. Also expect to see Cape pigeons, Antarctic terns, white-fronted terns, and red-billed gulls. There are hundreds of thousands of sooty shearwaters nesting here. Buller’s albatross breed here from late December onwards.

Day 4: Auckland Islands | Enderby Island

Enderby Island is a great place to view birds and wildlife. Visit Sandy Bay, the main breeding ground for the rare New Zealand (Hooker’s) sea lion and just one of three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands. There are chances to observe the southern royal albatross, northern giant petrel, Auckland Island shag, Auckland Island flightless teal, Auckland Island banded dotterel, Auckland Island tomtit, bellbird, pipit, red-crowned parakeet, yellow-eyed penguin, and light-mantled sooty albatross. Be sure to also keep a lookout for the rare Subantarctic snipe. On Derry Castle Reef there is a good chance of seeing the bar-tailed godwit, turnstone, and perhaps other migratory waders.

Day 5: At Sea

Expect some of the best pelagic birding on this leg of the journey from the Auckland Islands to Macquarie Island with great views of species such as the royal albatrosses, wandering albatrosses, black-browed albatross, white-chinned petrel, diving-petrel, little shearwaters, storm-petrel and to confuse everybody, numerous prion species.

Day 6-7: Macquarie Island

Arrive at Macquarie Island, the only place in the world to see the breeding royal penguin - there is an abundance of these here as this remote outpost supports a breathtaking concentration of wildlife. You won't soon forget your first experience of a noisy ‘penguin city’ where you are witness to a thousand chattering, feeding chicks, territorial disputes, petty pilfering, and courtship displays - king, gentoo, and rockhopper penguins can be seen here. Macquarie also has a large population of Southern Elephant Seals. Pups are born in October and weaned in November when the breeding adults return to sea.

Day 8: At Sea

At sea en route to Campbell Island and time to unwind after the adventures of Macquarie Island. Look for cetaceans and albatross, join a lecture or catch up on your photos and journaling.

Day 9: Campbell Island | Perseverance Harbor

Drop anchor in Perseverance Harbor. Once on shore walk to the nesting site of the southern royal albatross or to Northwest Bay, and pass beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. There will also be an easier walk to the Col Lyall Saddle.

Day 10: At Sea

At sea en route to the Antipodes, it is a day for pelagic birding. Species commonly seen in this area include Wandering Albatross species, Southern Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Campbell Island Albatross, Lightmantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Northern and Southern Giant Petrel, the Sooty Shearwater and the Little Shearwater.  There should be plenty of petrels and again the hard-to-identify prion species.

Day 11: Antipodes Island

Antipodes Island is one of the most isolated, least known, and rugged of New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands. Landings are not permitted here, so plan to cruise along the coastline by Zodiac looking for the endemic Antipodes Island and Reischek’s parakeet. You may also see the Antipodes subspecies of the New Zealand pipit, and with half the world population of erect-crested and Rockhopper-penguins.

Day 12: The Bounty Islands

These inhospitable granite islets are home to thousands of Salvin’s albatross, erect-crested penguins, fulmar prions and the endemic Bounty Island shag, the world’s rarest. At sea you should spot wandering albatross species, northern royal albatross, mottled petrel, soft-plumaged petrel, broad-billed prion, white-chinned petrel and black-bellied storm petrels as well as Wilson’s storm petrel.

Day 13: Pyramid Rock and South East Island

As the Heritage Adventurer continues toward the Chatham Archipelago, there are excellent opportunities for pelagic birding. In the afternoon, arrive at the spectacular Pyramid Rock, the only breeding place of the Chatham Island albatross. During the afternoon we arrive at South East Island- one of the world’s greatest nature reserves and landings are not permitted. However, we should obtain good views of the very rare New Zealand Shore Plover and Chatham Island Oystercatcher from the Zodiacs as we cruise along the coast. We should also see the Pitt Island Shag which nests on the island.

Day 14: Chatham Islands | Waitangi

This morning go ashore on the main island where you might see the endemic Chatham Island shag and along the coast the Chatham Island oystercatcher. Visit an original private reserves established by a local family on the south coast of the main island where there is a very good chance to see the endemic Chatham Island Pigeon and Warbler. This afternoon we cruise back along the south coast, this is where the only known population of the Taiko breeds and also where they are attempting to establish a new population of the Chatham Island Petrel in a predator free area. 

Day 15-16: At Sea

En route to Dunedin cross what is known as the Chatham Rise. It is a relatively shallow nutrient-rich area of water, compared with the rest of the surrounding ocean, and it is also one of the best places for pelagic watching with an overlap of both northern or more temperate species and birds from southern latitudes. Expect to see royal albatross, wandering albatross, westland black petrel, Cook’s petrel, and much more.

Day 17: Invercargill/Queenstown | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
Early this morning we will arrive in the Port of Bluff. After a final breakfast we bid farewell to our fellow voyagers and take a complimentary coach transfer to either Invercargill or Queenstown Airports. 

Ship/Hotel

Heritage Adventurer

Dining area
Heritage Adventurer Restaurant

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Deals

Save up to 20%: Second Wave 2025-26 Season Launch 24472
Enjoy up to 20% Early Bird savings on select departures when you book by July 31, 2024. Get a 20% discount on Heritage Suites and a 15% discount on Worsley Suites. This offer is subject to availability for new bookings, cannot be combined with other discounts, and does not apply to landing fees. Additional restrictions may apply. Please contact us for details.
Applies to Dec 6, 2025 departure

Per person starting at
$15,250 2-3 travelers
Included landing fees are not eligible for promotions or agency commission.
Superior Triple
Select a Date
Superior Triple
Superior Triple Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, two single beds, and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Main deck
Select a Date
Main Deck Triple
Main Deck Triple Cabins on Deck 3 is a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, two single beds, and one Pullman bed which folds down from the wall, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Deck 4 Superior
Select a Date
Deck 4 Superior
Superior Cabins on Deck 4 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Deck 5 Superior
Select a Date
Deck 5 Superior
Superior Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Main deck
Select a Date
Main Deck Single
Main Deck Single Cabins on Deck 3 is a spacious 22m2 and feature two porthole windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Adventurer - Superior Single
Select a Date
Superior Single
Superior Single Cabins on Deck 5 are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king bed, comfortable lounge, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Worseley Suite
Select a Date
Worsley Suite
Located on Deck 6, Worsley Suites are a spacious 22m2 and feature large panoramic windows, king or two single beds, comfortable chaise-style lounge suite, writing desk, private en-suite with shower, ample storage, and a flat-screen entertainment system.
Heritage Suite
Select a Date
Heritage Suite
Located on Deck 6, Heritage Suites are an expansive 44m2 and feature large double panoramic windows, king bed, large living area with a sofa, coffee table, and chairs, and grand marble bathroom with a double basin, bathtub, and shower, large writing desk, floor to ceiling cabinetry for storage and a flat-screen entertainment system.

Notes

- Included landing fees are not eligible for promotions or agency commission.
- Single clients are matched with a sharer of the same sex in a twin-share cabin. Payment of a single supplement guarantees a single cabin. The single supplement is 1.8 times the price of the voyage with the exception of the suites which are double the single rate.
-Emergency medical evacuation coverage for a minimum of US$100,000 per person required. Contact us for details on arranging travel insurance.

TECHNICAL SPECS
Year Built: 1991
Shipyard: Rauma, Finland
Classification: Lloyds 1AS, GL E4
Accommodation: 140 guests
Length: 124 metres
Beam: 18 metres
Draft: 4.97 metres
Gross Tonnage : 8,378gt
Engines: 3,940 horsepower (x2)
Maximum Speed: 15 knots
Cruising Speed: 12 knots
Range: 8,600 nautical miles
Zodiacs: 14
Included
  • 16 Breakfasts, 15 Lunches, 16 Dinners
  • 16 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • House beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
  • Landing fees
  • All expedition shore excursions
  • Programme of lectures by noted naturalists
  • Pre- & Post- Cruise Transfers
  • One night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (incl. dinner/breakfast)
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Required Visas if applicable
  • Laundry 
  • Mandatory medical evacuation insurance

Map

When to Go

Inquire

* By providing your phone number, you consent to receive direct phone calls or SMS messages from our Trip Planners to get the process started. We do not share your information with third-parties.
Travel Agents

We Love to Talk Travel

Call 1.800.344.6118
or
Chat Now
I could not be happier with my Adventure Life experience, from beginning to end. I travel a lot, and I think your company and personnel do an outstanding job. I truly appreciate your professionalism, attentiveness, and flexibility. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend your company and would be happy to serve as a reference.
Constance Block

South Pacific Travel Guide

Favorite South Pacific All Trips

More Reasons

Why Travel With Adventure Life

All News

Recognized By