This is without doubt one of the most inspirational and informative journeys or expeditions into the Southern Ocean ecosystem that one can make. Long recognised for their rich biodiversity, the Subantarctic Islands lying to the south of New Zealand are UNESCO World Heritage sites. This places them in a select group of only 180 natural sites that have been designated as ‘the most important and significant natural habitats' on the planet. They are also afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments and access to these islands is by permit only. On this expedition we offer you the unique chance to explore, photograph and understand these wonderful places in the company of some of the most knowledgeable and passionate guides.
As a young biologist, Heritage Expeditions founder Rodney Russ first visited these islands in 1972 with the New Zealand Wildlife Service. He organised New Zealand's first commercial expedition there in 1989, and 24 years and over 100 expeditions later, he is still as passionate about the islands as he was in 1972. It was only natural that his family should travel with him, what wasn't predictable was that they would join him in the business and be as passionate about the conservation of this region as he is. As the original concessionaire we enjoy good relationships with the conservation departments and some of the access permits we hold are unique to these expeditions.
The name we have given to this voyage 'Galapagos of the Southern Ocean' reflects the astounding natural biodiversity and the importance of these islands as a wildlife refuge. (The book Galapagos of the Antarctic written by Rodney Russ and Aleks Terauds and published by Heritage Expeditions describes all of these islands in great detail.) The islands all lie in the cool temperate zone with a unique climate and are home to a vast array of wildlife including albatross, penguins, petrels, prions, shearwaters and marine mammals like sea lions, fur seals and elephant seals. The flora is equally fascinating; the majority of it being like the birds and endemic to these islands.
This expedition includes four of the Subantarctic Islands, The Snares, Auckland's, Macquarie and Campbell. Each one is different and each one is unique, just like this expedition.
For dates and rates, and the full itinerary please click the tabs under the heading above.
Pre/Post cruise transfers, one night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (inc. dinner/breakfast), all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions.
All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.
Our ship - The Spirit of Enderby:
The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition Travel.
She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2012 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space.
On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.
The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.
The name Spirit of Enderby honours the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.
9 December 2012 - 21 December 2012
Sunday 9 December
On a balmy early December day in Hobart the members of our expedition party began to gather. In nearby streets and on the wharves of Hobart one could pick the occasional stranger or pair of strangers with a glint of high-sea excitement in their eyes. By 9:30pm we were no longer unknown to one another as 52 of us gathered together for a formal introduction and our first meal together. A few drinks and a few hours of friendly greetings later, everyone retired, buzzing with anticipation for our departure the following day.
Monday 10 December
Breakfast was a casual affair before checking out of the hotel and spending some hours enjoying the mash of history and chic that makes up downtown Hobart. By 8am the Spirit of Enderby was alongside Pier 3 at the Hobart Wharf and customs and Heritage Expedition staff members whirred into action to prepare the ship for a 4pm departure. At 12:30pm we boarded a bus with our bags of ‘expeditioning’ equipment. On arrival at Pier 3 the bus was boarded by customs agents who cleared us to embark the ship. It was a home-coming for some, a first time for others, as we boarded the Spirit of Enderby. After quickly finding our lodgings, we met again with the customs folk on board and officially exited Hobart. An hour later once the south-easterly wind pinning us to the wharf abated, we set off, passing the huge ‘Voyager of the Sea’ which loomed above us. We had watched her 3,500 passengers spend the day funnelling on and off the ship and did not envy them at all as we all looked forward to our small ship experience. We tested our emergency systems and lifeboats as we exited the river and harbour surrounding Hobart. The first reading of on board ornithologist Adam’s bird list followed dinner and we continued out into the Tasman.
Tuesday 11 December
We awoke to a sunny morning as an unpredictable westerly swell from South Africa had picked up overnight. After breakfast a pair of Orca was spotted off the bow of the ship. We lunched at 1pm and by this time we had travelled far enough to be lattitudinally on par with Bluff, our final destination in 10 days’ time. Adam gave us an introduction to the Albatross of the Southern Ocean and then returned to the Bridge, where with his support we spotted one Sei Whale and three Finn Whales. Later in the afternoon botany expert Alex gave an introductory lecture to the flora of the Subantarctic Islands, stage one in his grand plan to convert or at least sway those more animally oriented in the direction of green things. Following chefs Lindsay and Bobbie’s fantastic dinner, Adam updated us on the bird list. His top three for the day were (1) 2,000+ Broad Bill Prions (a significant sighting, the details of which would be passed onto the appropriate agencies); (2) Gould’s Petrel; (3) White-headed Petrel.
Wednesday 12 December
Another late breakfast eased us into our day at sea. The first notable change from yesterday was the increasing roll on the ship, mostly noticeable as more grabbing for tumbling items at the breakfast table. Following breakfast we watched ‘The Edge of Nowhere’. A film about the recovery of Fur Seals on Macquarie Island, and the monitoring of their success during the breeding season. Adam followed this with an introduction to the marine mammals of Southern Ocean. He detailed the various groups, their life history and ancestry, their distinctive characteristics and our likelihood of encountering them. Lunch at 1pm was of the outstanding standard we had already come to expect. We had the great pleasure that afternoon of one of our fellow passengers, David Panton, sharing with us his photos of Macquarie Island taken 48 years earlier, when he summered over on the island from December 1964 until March 1965, as a University of Adelaide student. David matched his photos with tales of life on the island, detailing adventures and aspects of the natural history. Following on from dinner, Tim Fraser, our Department of Conservation representative, spotted four Fur Seals from the Bridge. Armed with information from Adam’s lecture and his growing identification skills, he claimed them to be Subantarctic Fur Seals. The day was capped off with the bird list reading by Adam, his top three species for the day were (1) Northern Royal Albatross; (2) Mottled Petrel; (3) Kerguelen Petrel.
Thursday 13 December
We awoke to find the ship escorted by a convoy of Antarctic Prions. Expedition Leader Nathan updated us on our progress informing us that with 150 nautical miles to run we were expecting to be at Macquarie by 10pm. Hotel Manager Meghan opened the sea-shop for a spell after breakfast, giving folk the opportunity to pick up Subantarctic mementoes for friends, family and for personal collections. At midday Nathan gave us a Zodiac briefing, instructing everyone in the safe use of the craft for landings, cruising and disembarkation. After lunch we heard a lecture from Samuel who introduced us to the penguins of the region. He covered the diversity, the ancestry, the anatomy and life history of this family of birds. Another great dinner came and went and then for those keen few who were still on the bow or the Bridge at 9:45pm, Macquarie Island slipped into view. First North Head was visible as a black shadow hung with cloud, but within 15 minutes the first few flickering lights of the peopled isthmus could be seen. The ship rounded North Head, past the isthmus and continued south to anchor off Sandy Bay for a quiet night in the lee of the island.
Friday 14 December
Before most of us arose the Russian crew had brought the ship back up to the isthmus. By 7:30am, in about 25 knots of westerly wind, we had collected four Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife staff members who were to act as our guides on Macquarie. We breakfasted with Anna, Narelle, Paul and Richard before returning south to Sandy Bay. Good numbers of Light-mantled Sooty Albatross suspended themselves in updrafts around the ship as we made our way south. At 8:20am Nathan gave us a briefing for the day ahead, and by 9:30am the first Zodiacs were ashore. At Sandy Bay we were relatively protected from the wind, and almost everyone got ashore without getting very wet, and once ashore, most had to halt and take a moment to absorb the biotic spectacle in front of them. Littering the beach were Elephant Seal weaners, marching groups of curious King Penguins, and flocks of Royal Penguins. To the south of Sandy Bay mature female Elephant Seals slumbered piled upon another. We crossed over the highway below the Royal Penguin colony and passed the moulting King Penguins who had established themselves mid-stream below the boardwalk, taking to the boardwalk ourselves. Only a dozen or so vertical metres above the boardwalk we watched the vegetation change from coastal tussocks into herbfield, with a broad plain of the megaherb Pleurophyllum hookeri, the Silver Leaved Daisy, stretching inland and beginning to flower. Starkly contrasting the low herbfield were the exclosure plots, 30-year-old squares of vegetation protected from the now extinct rabbit horde. These quadrants established with great foresight, will seed the island’s recovery, and provided us an image of what the island will be like in years to come. Further up the boardwalk a pair of skua casually minded their small chick which shuffled between daisies in a bid to evade our notice. We came to the end of the boardwalk, and were greeted by a mass of squawking, pebble-pilfering and regurgitation in a colony of thousands of Royal Penguins raising this season’s chicks. Here we could sit back and simply be enthralled by the performance, but we also had Paul from the Macquarie Island staff with us who was happy to share all he knew about island life and the colony in front of us. Back down on the beach most folk took the opportunity to sit down above the surf and wait for the wildlife to engage with them. It seldom took more than few minutes before a group of inquisitive King Penguins came to investigate just what we were and what we were up to. Similarly, the nursing instinct of the Elephant Seal weaners had them lumbering towards us on the beach. A squall passed over and the weather evolved continually from morning, over lunch, into early afternoon, when sunshine eventually took hold. North of the rocky outcrops and small rock stacks that provided us with some of the coastal protection we were enjoying was a small King Penguin colony, dotted with fat brown-downed chicks. The comings and goings of this highly entertaining colony spurred thousands of camera clicks from the revolving group of observers. But this was only a tiny colony, and by 3:30pm we were all back on the ship and heading south once again to the largest King Penguin colony at Lusitania Bay. The Zodiacs went out in two groups along the coastal edge of the colony where we all marvelled at the huge numbers of birds. This year alone the Lusitania Bay colony had produced 46,000 chicks, very welcome numbers given this was one of Joseph Hatch’s main bases for penguin slaughter. Rusting hulls of digestors mid-colony are now the only reminder of the penguin oil industry. Back on board the ship, we all agreed with Adam that the top three for the day were (1) King Penguin; (2) Royal Penguin; (3) Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. Plant of the day, now that we were seeing them, was undoubtedly the Silver Leaved Daisy, Pleurophyllum hookeri, topping the mere 18 species we saw ashore.
Saturday 15 December
We had an early rise for a 6.30am breakfast and an uncertain day ahead. There had been a change in the weather overnight, made obvious by the increasing roll of the ship. Nathan, Adam and Samuel had been studying our landing site with binoculars from the wee hours of the morning and reported 1.5m swells crashing onto our landing rocks. During breakfast the team kept an eye on the north north-easterly swell intensifying in Buckles Bay and after Nathan, Adam, Alex and Samuel inspected the landing site by Zodiacs they reported that a safe landing was not possible. Plan B was to get the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife team on board and head south with them back to Sandy Bay. We hung off the beach for 30 minutes waiting for a window, but the growing swell and a report from the field team at Sandy Bay soon stymied these plans so we set out course to Campbell Island. We had all had a fantastic day at Sandy Bay and despite not being able to stay longer we still had plenty of memories of our time here. Everyone took the opportunity for a quiet day aboard the ship, dozing, reading or birding on the bow. Before dinner we had a recap of our time on the island, what we had seen and how lucky we had been the day before. Adam’s top three birds from our day at sea were (1) Grey-headed Albatross; (2) Soft-plumaged Petrel; (3) Brown Skua.
Sunday 16 December
We had breakfast at 8:30am as the ship punched into the north north-westerly wind, which was blowing all the way from Westport on New Zealand’s West Coast to us, 1500km to the south. Following breakfast Nathan let us know the plan for the day, noting the increasing northerly and the 110 nautical miles we had left to run to Campbell Island. At 10:30am Alex gave a lecture on the environmental history of Campbell Island, predominantly from a botanical viewpoint, which was well attended. Afterwards we watched two films courtesy of the Department of Conservation. The first named ‘The Battle for Campbell Island’ detailed the 2001 rat eradication programme, while the second ‘The Impossible Dream: Campbell Island Teal story’, retold the story of the discovery and recovery of this species. After the typical gourmet lunch courtesy of Lindsay and Bobbie we sailed into the increasing northerly wind which could be heard whistling around the ship. Around 1pm we crossed an invisible barrier in the ocean, where the sea floor rose approximately 700m as we came over the edge of the Campbell Plateau. The most notable outward sign of this change was the variety of birdlife present around the ship. We began to see good numbers of species like the Campbell Albatross and the Southern Royal Albatross. The swell increased to 3-4m as we rolled on towards Campbell, but by 6pm it began to abate and we could soon see a shrouded triangle of rock appear north-west of the bow – Jacquemart Island. Dinner was followed by Adam’s bird list, his top three being: (1) Campbell Albatross; (2) Southern Royal Albatross; (3) Grey-back Storm-Petrel.
Monday 17 December
While most of us slumbered peacefully on a calm sea in the lee of Campbell Island our always quietly industrious Russian crew plotted our strategy to land at Perseverance Harbour. Around 1am the wind had dropped to 40-50 knot winds as the ship rounded the entrance of the harbour. By 5am we had anchored off Beeman Point and shortly afterwards Meghan’s breakfast announcement heralded the start of what would be a magnificent day. The island’s peaks and coves were hung with clag, but the balmy 12°C temperature gave some indication that cloud would eventually give way to sun.
After breakfast Nathan gave us a full briefing, both an introduction to the natural history of Campbell Island, and an outline of our options for the day. Alex led those who elected to walk the challenging North West Bay route and Meghan joined this team of eight. At 8:45am we boarded a Zodiac and were dropped on the old ramp by the wharf, where we clambered up around the old generator and balloon-release buildings of the Meteorological Station. From there we made our way towards Tucker Cove, where we picked up one of our finds for the day, a Far Eastern Curlew, later confirmed by Adam as the first report for this species from Campbell Island. We followed the coast before heading up through the Dracophyllum toward Homestead Ridge. Across the partially board-walked bog we made our way through a dwarfed heath herbfield, where the Beak Orchid Waireia stenopetala, had begun to flower. Following an old slip for a short steep stint, we attained the ridge that stretches south from Col Peak. Dotted along the ridge in and amongst megaherbs were the nests of Southern Royal Albatross, often on our trail. On the coastal cliffs, gardens of megaherbs contained all but one of the six megaherb species: Giant Button Daisies P. criniferum, Emperor Daisies P. speciosum, Silver Leaved Daisies P. hookeri, giant subantarctic carrots Anisotome latifolia, and Macquarie Island Cabbages Stilbocarpa polaris were all in various stages of flowering. Here also the clouds lifted and we could look west down on Dent Island and North West Bay. We were occasionally startled by Sea Lions amongst the head high tussocks, so we stayed in close contact as we navigated the tussock labyrinth down to Capstan Cove. Lunch on a sunny beach was made perfect by the presence of Yellow-eyed Penguins, scrapping Sea Lion bulls, and about a dozen dozing Elephant Seal weaners. Up through the Dracophyllum forest, which graded into scrub, we wound our way along the 1984 fence line. At the top we basked in the sun with Southern Royal Albatross soaring overhead. From here we sidled through mixed vegetation, past small gamming groups of albatross, over streams and peat scars until we reached Cave Rock, the emergency shelter of the Campbell Island Coastwatchers. It was only a short stroll downhill from here, through more Dracophyllum forest, to Camp Cove and the Sitka Spruce. As Samuel brought the Zodiac into the bay to collect us we reflected back on what could not have been a better day. At that moment Meghan fell waist deep into an Elephant Seal wallow, much to the amusement of the group and in their opinion making it now a perfect day!
While we completed our north-west circuit, the remainder of our group had their own adventures. Most of the group left the ship by Zodiac at 9:30am first landing at the site of the old homestead, now little more than an Orion Shacklock stove and a sward of pasture grass. After exploring the site, the team continued onto Camp Cove, watching Giant Petrel chicks among the tussock and a large bull Sea Lion waddling around Camp Stream. The group provided some much needed company to the loneliest tree in the world, and may also have provided some cheer to Camp Cove’s other lonely soul. In amongst the flax above Camp Cove is the remains of a sod-cottage, the forlorn home of the ‘Lady of the Heather’. Reputed to be the illegitimate daughter of Bonnie Prince Billy, the so called Lady of the Heather was abandoned on the island by a sealing gang, where she lived out her days, seen by passing ships, wandering in tartan across the rolling highland-like hills. Until the 1980s a heather plant clung to life beside the cottage, adding some sway to the tale. By 11:30am everyone was back on board the ship for a brief lunch, before returning ashore at 1pm to conquer the Col-Lyall boardwalk. Past the old meteorological hostel, the boardwalk wound up around Beeman Hill. A dead Sea Lioness had thoughtfully been removed from the boardwalk by the four researchers on the island, and two Snipe were seen by the lead group. Across the open cushion bog and into herbfield and scrub, the boardwalk continued up into Southern Royal Albatross nesting territory. Here two birds had nested almost right on the boardwalk this season. Everyone had the opportunity to explore the area further by stepping off the boardwalk in the zone around the old terminus. The final stretch of the boardwalk led through fantastic megaherb fields — blooming under brilliant low afternoon light — and up onto Col-Lyall ridge. Fighting buffeting winds, the group had the opportunity to look south into North West Bay, before slowly meandering back down the boardwalk to the wharf.
By 6:30pm everyone was back on board the ship for a great dinner courtesy of Lindsay and Bobbie and by 7:45pm we rounded the entrance of Perseverance Harbour and bid farewell to Campbell Island. The plant of the day, never easy to choose on Campbell, probably had to be the Ross Lily, Bulbinella rossii, it beat the 84 other species we saw by the intensity and abundance of flowering. A great year to have seen it!
Tuesday 18 December
After an unsettling night due to weather, we arrived at the Auckland Islands and Carnley Harbour. A late breakfast was followed by a quiet morning. By 11am land was in sight, and at 11:30am the ship was steered into the harbour entrance. We continued up the long channel that separates the main Auckland Island from Adam’s Island to the south. Past Musgrave Peninsula to starboard of the ship, where we would return in the afternoon, we continued up into the Western Arm of Carnley Harbour and we could spy crashing swell in the notorious Victoria Passage at the end of the harbour. After lunch Adam gave us an introduction to the Auckland Islands. He talked about the biological importance of the island group, for example Adam’s Island is the largest island in the world never to have had pests introduced. Adam also touched on the historical significance of the area. The Auckland Islands had been a staging post for many significant Antarctic expeditions, and in their own right had a very chequered history of disaster, disappointment and death. Nathan took over from Adam and briefed us on the afternoon’s landing. We landed in Tagua Bay, near a narrow isthmus that almost severs Musgrave Peninsula from the main island. Following a barely recognisable path we continued up to the site of the old Coastwatcher’s hut where Nathan provided an overview of the site. From here we continued up, passing a stunning patch of white and purple Spider Orchids Singularybas oblongus until we emerged above snow tussocks on an open hillock. Here to the north-west we could look into the North Arm of Carnley Harbour, home to the wreck of the Grafton, and the rata clearing that had fuelled the Erlangen’s eastward journey to South America. A short two minute walk led down to the old Coastwatch station, which looked out to the south-east of Carnley Harbour. Everyone slowly returned in batches down to the beach. By 6.30pm we were back on the ship and within the hour it was time to dine. For those of us still awake and in biotic-wonderment, the bird and plant list followed. I missed Adam’s top three species for the day, but the Spider Orchids won out on the floristic front, beating the 39 other species seen from the Tagua Bay site.
Wednesday 19 December
Meghan roused us all at 6:15am with promises of rain and 7°C. Within 15 minutes we were eating, and by 7:30am Nathan was introducing us to Enderby Island and briefing us for the day ahead. The team had two options ashore on beautiful Enderby Island – a long walk, almost a circumnavigation of the island’s coast, and a shorter walk, allowing more time for absorbing the wildlife. In small groups everyone boarded Zodiacs for a beach landing among a group of SAMs (Sub Adult Male Sea Lions) who were far too curious for comfort. Once ashore, all of us regrouped above the beach near the research team’s buildings and from here we set off. First we quickly crossed a small stream and grassy sward, keeping a good pace so as not to block the passage of Yellow-eyed Penguins from the forest to the sea.
We soon joined a trail leading into the gnarled Southern Rata Metrosideros umbellata forest which led up onto a boardwalk stretching right to the northern coast of the island. For the most part this boardwalk crosses a dwarf forest, punctuated with bog patches, Royal Albatross nests, and various orchid species. The scrub then grades into herbfield and a plain of Ross Lilys, endemic gentians and Giant Carrots. We dismounted the boardwalk and continued through the megaherbs to the coastal cliffs where half a dozen pairs of Light-mantled Sooty Albatross nest. This gave us a great opportunity to get shots of them on the nest, or keening out to sea. Here our group split and the circumnavigators began the rest of our journey, while the short-walkers remained to enjoy the megaherbs and the albatross, before eventually retracing their steps back to Sandy Bay, and the growing throng of Sea Lions on the beach. Those who opted for the long journey continued along the coast, around Ihupuku and Whakhao Bays and down toward Derry Castle Reef, where good numbers of Fur Seals, Dotterels and Yellow-eyed Penguins could be seen in the distance. Just before we reached the reef we spotted a pair of Red-crowned Parakeets grazing on gentian flowers, happily oblivious to the passing humans. Further along undulating coastal hills we passed Bones Bay and Three Cave Bay before reaching the eastern side of the island and the two main Auckland Island Shag colonies. Here the birders among us had good opportunities to snap this endemic species close-up. From North East Cape, the smaller of the two Shag colonies, we cut in a little towards the forested centre of the island, crossing prime Snipe territory among tussocks and sedges. We saw six Snipe that day, far more than are generally seen on one visit to Enderby. In the forest we simply stopped and stared. It would be difficult to find such a strange and beguiling forest anywhere else in the southern hemisphere. The understorey was dominated by Macquarie Island Cabbage, with long rhubarb-like stems extending upwards to support large open plates of leaves which caught the falling red stamens and leaves from the canopy of Southern Rata. Above the cabbage came the spiky subcanopy of Dracophyllum, clashing shapes and textures that were overtaken by the gnarled, twisted boughs of Southern Rata, stretching out and closing in the canopy. Down on the south coast we spotted multiple Teal in many tiny water bodies, before reaching the scrub-cut track that would lead us along the last part of the coast and back once again to Sandy Bay.
Crossing the back of the beach so not to upset the carnage on the beach, we met up with the remainder of the group and could now observe the action on the shore. Beach Masters paraded through their harems, ready to tackle invading neighbours or speculators from the sea. Opportunistic females took their chances to bound seaward and pups called lamb-like for their mothers. We were lucky enough to witness the furore of a beach-birth, the cries of the pup for its mum, and the airborne disintegration of the afterbirth among the claws of three dozen skuas. Hours could disappear watching this spectacle, but with rising tides we needed to get back to the ship. By 6:30pm we were eating, and by 9pm the ship’s compliment was silent, tired out from our huge day. Most had retired, trying to sneak in a few hours’ sleep before we hit the much bigger seas ahead. Top three birds for the day were possibly (1) Auckland Island/Subantarctic Snipe; (2) Auckland Island Teal; (3) Red-crowned Parakeet. Plant of the day tied between the two endemic gentians, and they only really beat the 78 other species we saw today because of their Parakeet association.
Thursday 20 December
We were woken at 7am by Nathan as we were nearing The Snares. Around the ship Bullers Albatross, Diving-Petrels and the occasional Snares Crested Penguin began to arrive. To our port side the western chain of The Snares appeared, Tahi through Rima, the Maori numbers one to five giving their names to the chain of five rocky islets. By 7:45am we were below North East Island, the main island of The Snares; to the east of the ship was Broughton Island and off the coast to the west was Alert Stack. The Captain put the ship into a holding pattern as we watched willywaws whip off the swell and enjoyed our breakfast in something like comfort as we were hidden somewhat from the northerly. Sadly, this was as close as we would get to the Snares as the seas were too choppy to venture closer in the Zodiacs. It was great to see the islands as close as we did however, and those who were searching for bird ticks, generally got the species they were after. At 9am we continued up the eastern coast of The Snares and set a course for Stewart Island, 60 nautical miles away. We spent the next 7 hours being shunted by the wind and waves, as 60 knot winds beat down from Puysegur Point, the far western corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Several times during the day we changed our course to make the passage more comfortable. Eventually we neared Stewart Island and the sea began to calm so we were able to enjoy a late lunch, created by our ever resourceful chefs in the galley. At 4.30pm sadly things were beginning to wrap up in earnest, as Meghan finalised shipboard accounts and passports were returned. At 6.15pm everyone got together for the last time in the lecture room and enjoyed a visual recap of our fantastic trip. Nathan briefed us all on disembarkation for the following day, and gave a very heartfelt thank you and farewell to staff and travellers alike. We all adjourned to the bar and by 8:15pm tucked into the bounty of an enormous buffet which Lindsay and Bobbie provided with a final flourish. The day was formally closed with the reading of Adam’s final bird list. His top three for the day were (1) Bullers Albatross; (2) Cooks Petrel; (3) Salvins Albatross. By dusk we were anchored below Bluff Hill as the light of Dog Island flashed to the east of us and the final party was over.
By 3:30am the Spirit of Enderby was tied up at the wharf in Bluff. Bunkering had begun early, and folk busied themselves packing before breakfast at 7am. By 8am New Zealand Customs and Quarantine were on board and we filed through one by one, officially clearing the vessel into New Zealand. By 8:30am the time had come to say our farewells, and after a group photo on the wharf, everyone disbanded. Some went on to Stewart Island for more adventures, others to Invercargill and the airport, perhaps to home, perhaps to another fantastic destination. It would be difficult to believe however that these new adventures could compete with what we had just experienced. It was wonderful to visit these far flung islands in the company of people who share a passion for the Subantarctic.
Please contact us for further Trip Reports
" I participated in the Galapagos of the Southern Ocean trip, commencing on Dec 9th, 2012. I very much appreciated the opportunity to visit a part of Tasmania that has interested me for a long time, and to step ashore on Macquarie Island was an amazing experience. To be able to experience the vast colonies of breeding King and Royal Penguins and to see Albatrosses close by and megaherbs in full flower was exceptional. Thanks to the staff of Heritage Expeditions for looking after us so well. "
" I expected that this trip would be one of the wildlife experiences of my life. I wasn't wrong. Sitting on the beach at Macquarie Island surrounded by seals and penguins was like being centre stage in an Attenborough documentary. I didn't expect however to be so blown away by the plant life we found on the NZ sub antarctic islands. It was staggeringly beautiful and I think we were very lucky to have the infectiously enthusiastic Alex to explain it all to us! Many thanks. "
" An memorable adventure enhanced by Heritage staff prepared to risk personal injury to ensure the safety of voyagers. "
" Please pass on a big thank you from us to Nathan and the wonderful young team he has working with him. What a great experience it was. We hit some very rough weather and they were tremendous throughout. I would like to especially thank the kitchen staff who gave us fantastic meals. Under those conditions their effort can only be described as heroic. I wouldn't contemplate even going near a hot stove while being tossed around around like that. I honestly don't know how they did it. Could you please pass on our grateful thanks to Bobbie who cooked for the vegetarians. Usually we get just get given pasta, as the Hotel gave us on the first night, but the meals that Bobbie prepared were amazing, the best vegetarian we have ever eaten. I am very privileged that she gave me one of her recipes which is delicious.
Adam was a terrific bird man and always on the job. Please thank him for all that watching over the grey seas and best of all for all the IDs which his vast experience makes possible; the birds were so lovely.
" Just wanted to let you know how fantastic our trip was and to thank you for all your assistance in our organising of the trip. We were able to catch up with our friend at Macquarie Island, she was very excited as we were also.
I can't praise the staff enough, Nathan was great and very caring towards all the passengers needs, he had a hard job some days. By the end of the trip it was very sad saying goodbye and I am sure a few solid friendships were made during the trip.
My husband who was always in two minds about doing the trip was completely won over by that first day on the beach at Macquarie Island with the ele seals and penguins. After that he has never stopped raving about it. He is not the type of person who would normally do that type of trip.The food was excellent and having the freedom of the ship made is all so very special.
I will certainly recommend it to anyone interested in the future. "
" Thanks so much for the trip. Being amongst all those clever, capable people in those fantastic places was completely delicious and I am still smiling from it. "
" The visits to the islands were very special and will not be forgotten easily. Just seeing some of the megaherbs in flower and bird colonies made for magical moments, now relived by hundreds of photos. The Russian crew were very friendly, polite, efficient and helpful when asked. The Expedition team were great and showed complete professionalism. "
" I want to say thank you for all you did for us in the lead up to the Macquarie trip. I had the most wonderful time and life on the ship was great. The Russian crew were perfect with the two women in the dining rooms smiling all the way. "
" Many thanks for a brilliant end to 2010. I had a completely fantastic time on the trip to the Subantarctic Islands. "