Birding the subantarctic islands of New Zealand

Birding the subantarctic islands of New Zealand – November 11th to 29th, 2018

Voyage and expedition cruise to the subantarctic islands of Australia and New Zealand Expedition cruise on board the vessel Spirit of Enderby

Size of the group: 48 expeditioners maximum

Duration: 18 nights/19 days

The ship in details…

Expedition cruise basics…

Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell, Macquarie and Chatham Islands… The islands occupy the tempestuous latitudes of the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties but they are also known as the Albatross Latitudes and with good reason. Ten of the world’s albatross species breed in the region; five of them nowhere else but here! In fact this zone where the air is never still, hosts the most diverse collection of seabirds in the world. More than 40 species breed down here – that is at least 11 percent of the entire world’s seabird population.
With the exception of the Chathams, the islands are all designated UNESCO World Heritage sites and are afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments, so passage to their shores is not granted lightly.


About the program and itinerary…

Day 1: Invercargill
Arrive at Invercargill, New Zealand’s southern most city. Grab your last-minute luxuries before meeting your fellow expeditioners for an informal get-together over dinner.

Day 2: Port of Bluff
Enjoy a visit to the museum to view the Subantarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff, where you will board the Spirit of Enderby. Settle into your cabin and join your expedition team and the captain for a welcome on board.

Day 3: The Snares
The Snares Islands are home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles put together. Zodiac cruising the coast we learn how the islands got their name and in the sheltered bays you should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, the Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross nesting on the imposing cliffs.

Days 4 and 5: Auckland Islands
Characterised by towering cliffs and rugged sea stacks, these islands have borne witness to many a shipwreck in days gone by. You spend the day ashore on Enderby Island which is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Subantarctic Islands. Here you find parakeets flitting above carpets of red, white and yellow wild flowers and on the beaches beyond, the rare Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion. You land in Carnley Harbour and if conditions are suitable climb to a Shy Albatross colony, otherwise you explore sites within the harbour.

Day 6: at Sea
Take the chance to learn more about the biology and history of these islands and the tempestuous Southern Ocean through informal lectures with your guides. This particular stretch of ocean is very productive and you can expect many seabirds, including five or six kinds of albatross and numerous species of petrel.

Days 7 and 8: Macquarie Island
This remote, rocky outpost which endures roaring westerly winds, supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Hemisphere. Four species of penguin, King, Royal, Rockhopper and Gentoo breed here. You will never forget your first experience in a ceaselessly active ‘penguin city’, where the dapper inhabitants show no fear of their strange visitors. You will also meet with the Park Rangers, visit the Australian Antarctic Base and observe the hundreds of Southern Elephant Seals along the beaches.

Day 9: at sea
Soaring albatross and petrels circle the vessel as you steam south through the Southern Ocean. Lectures now concentrate on the Ross Sea region and beyond the bow of the ship; drifting icebergs of extraordinary shapes begin to appear. Manoeuvring in close for your first ice photographs you pass the Antarctic Circle and into the continent’s realm of 24-hour daylight.

Day 10: Campbell Island
You will walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross and see the strange and beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. These huge wild flowers that have adapted to the harsh conditions have unusual colourings and weirdly-shaped leaves. You also seek out other wildlife such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and sea lions.

Day 11: at sea

Day 12: Antipodes Islands
One of the most isolated, least known and rugged of the Subantarctic Islands; landings are not permitted here, so you cruise along the coast 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 Penguins here, you should encounter one or two as well as Antarctic Terns and Kelp Gulls.

Day 13: 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 14: at Sea and Pyramid Rock
We continue north towards the Chatham Islands, with similar species accompanying us as yesterday. Towards evening as you approach the islands you are closer to the Subantarctic and sub tropical convergence and you see a subtle change in the species composition. Late this afternoon you arrive at the spectacular Pyramid Rock, the only breeding place of the Chatham Island Albatross.

Days 15 and 16: Chatham Islands
During this two days at the Chatham Islands you will land and cruise the archipelago. You will visit a private bush reserve on the south coast to see the Chatham Island Warbler, Chatham Island Pigeon and Tui. South East Island one of the world’s greatest nature reserves where you may to Zodiac cruise to see the endangered Shore Plover. You will also keep our eyes peeled for the Pitt Island Shag.

Days 17 and 18: at sea
En route to Dunedin you will cross the Chatham Rise, here nutrient-rich waters allow for an overlap between northern pelagic species and birds from southern latitudes. You can expect to see Royal Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Westland Black Petrel, Cook’s Petrel and much more.

Day 19: Dunedin
You will disembark after breakfast in the Port of Dunedin and be transfer to central city hotels or to the airport.

Map of the itinerary of the voyage and expedition cruise to the subantarctic islands of Australia and New Zealand

PRICES (per person):

– Main deck triple: $11250 USD
– Main deck: $12150 USD
– Superior: $13650 USD
– Superior Plus: $14700 USD
– Mini suite: $15400 USD
– Heritage Suite: $16500 USD

Additional charges: local payment $800 USD pp

Prices include: 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.

Prices do not include: all items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.

The ship in details…


This expedition is the only one to include all of the subantarctic islands of New Zealand and one of Australia (Macquarie). It has huge appeal to pelagic enthusiasts, penguin fanatics and those interested in island endemics. You don’t have to be a keen birder though to enjoy this voyage. People interested in islands and island ecology, botany, geology and an increasing number of photographers have enjoyed this trip immensely, as have those interested in the history of southern ocean discovery and exploration.

☞ Interest of this trip: birds (albatross, petrels, shags, shorebirds…), seals, cetaceans, flora (rata forest, megaherbs…), historical sites…