Summary : The Ross Sea region of Antarctica is one of the most remote places on Earth and one of the most fascinating places in the continent's human history; few people have ever visited this strange and beautiful territory. This is a unique opportunity to experience nature on a scale so grand there are no words to describe it. This expedition includes the wildlife rich Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand and the spectacular Ross Ice Shelf. There is so much to do and so much to see here, from exploring historic huts and sites to visiting penguin rookeries, marveling at the glacial ice tongues and ice shelves and understanding the icebergs and sea ice. Observe and photograph abundant seabirds, seals and whales, visit modern scientific bases and field camps, and savor the opportunity to drink in the marvelous landscape that has always enthralled visitors. Lying like stepping stones to the Antarctic continent are the little known Sub-Antarctic Islands. Your journey includes The Snares, Aucklands, Macquarie and Campbell Island. They breakup your long journey but more importantly they help prepare you for what lies ahead, for these islands are part of the amazing and dynamic Southern Ocean ecosystem of which Antarctica is at the very heart.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Arrive at Invercargill, New Zealand’s southern most city, and rich in Scottish history. Grab last-minute luxuries before meeting your fellow expeditioners for an informal get-together over dinner.
Enjoy a visit to the museum to view the Sub-Antarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff, where you will board the the ship. Settle into your cabin and join your expedition team and the captain for a welcome on board.
Staggeringly, The Snares Islands are home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles put together. Zodiac cruising the coast, learn how the islands got their name. In the sheltered bays, you should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, the Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross nesting on the imposing cliffs.
Characterized by towering cliffs and rugged sea stacks, these islands have borne witness to many a shipwreck in days gone by. Spend the day ashore on Enderby Island which is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Sub-Antarctic Islands. 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. Land in Carnley Harbor and if conditions are suitable climb to a Shy Albatross colony, otherwise explore sites within the harbor.
Take the opportunity to learn more about the biology and history of these islands and the tempestuous Southern Ocean through informal lectures with your experts. 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.
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. Meet with the Park Rangers, visit the Australian Antarctic Base and observe the hundreds of Southern Elephant Seals along the beaches.
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. Maneuvering in close for your first ice photographs, pass the Antarctic Circle and into the continent's realm of 24-hour daylight.
With unpredictable ice and weather conditions, a day-by-day itinerary is not possible your guides and captain assess the conditions daily and take every opportunity to make landings and launch the Zodiacs. You can anticipate wildlife viewing, visits to scientific bases and historic sites, as well as the spectacular white and blue scenery. Hope to visit the following areas:
Cape Adare:A large flat spit of land, teeming with the staggering sight of Antarctica’s largest Adelie penguin rookery: a tumult of chattering, feeding chicks; territorial disputes; petty pilfering and courtship displays. Curious penguins often come very close, offering superb photographic opportunities. Among the shifting mass of penguins, find Carsten Borchgrevink’s Hut, the oldest in Antarctica, an overwintering shelter for the first expedition to the Antarctic continent in 1899.
Cape Hallett: The enormous Admiralty Range heralds your arrival; wild and extraordinary, the mountains rear up from the sea to over 4,000m, bounded by colossal glaciers. Land at an abandoned base site, now home to large numbers of Adelie penguins and Weddell seals.
Franklin Island: Desolately beautiful and rugged, this is home to a large Adelie penguin population and other nesting seabirds. Attempt a landing and explore the coastline.
Possession Islands: Rarely-visited, small and rugged, these rocks support tens of thousands of penguins. Observe the birds' busy and humorous activity, with the Admiralty Mountains forming a superb backdrop across the water.
Ross Ice Shelf: The world's largest body of floating ice and a natural barrier, at times creating hazardous weather, with sheets of snow blown at gale force by winds off the polar ice cap. Just 800 miles from the South Pole, this daunting spectacle prevented many early explorers from venturing further south. Cruise along its dizzying 30m high ice cliffs, perhaps lucky enough to see icebergs calving from the glacier.
Ross Island: Mount Erebus/Cape Bird/Shackleton’s Hut/Scott’s Hut(s) and visits to a scientific field station (Scott and McMurdo Stations are high on the wish list but ice, weather and station operational requirements often make them inaccessible). Ross Island was and is the "hub of activity" in the Ross Sea, dominated by Mt. Erebus, a monstrous active volcano named after the ancient Greek God of Darkness. The carefully preserved huts of the "Heroic Era" help make the history come alive. If you can reach the bases, get a modern perspective on Antarctic Research.
Terra Nova Bay: An Italian research station where the scientists are always hospitable and enjoy showing visitors around their remote but beautiful home. They share their scientific research and also, perhaps, the best "cafe espresso" in Antarctica!
Taking time to rest and enjoy shipboard life in the bar or library after the excitement and long daylight hours of the Antarctic, enjoy time for lectures on your final destination and for some pelagic bird spotting.
Drop anchor in Perseverance Harbor, an occasional refuge for Southern Right Whales who come here to calve. 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 coloring and uniquely-shaped leaves. Seek out other wildlife such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and sea lions.
Relax and reflect on a remarkable journey as you join your experts for a recap of highlights and enjoy a farewell dinner tonight.
Disembark in the Port of Lyttelton. After fond farewells, transfer to central city hotels or to the airport.
The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and ice conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. Landings at the Sub-Antarctic Islands are by permit only as administered by the governments of New Zealand and Australia. No landings are permitted at Snares Island. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement of participation in this program, all passengers must purchase full medical and emergency evacuation insurance for the specific areas they will be visiting. The minimum coverage requirement is $100,000 for program. The policy provider, policy number and contact phone number must be provided prior to departure date. We also strongly recommend that all passengers purchase comprehensive travel insurance which would include coverage for cancellation, trip disruption, baggage and personal property. ExpeditionTrips can assist you with this.
Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; one night hotel accommodation including dinner and continental breakfast; onboard lectures and access to public areas; shore excursions as described; group transfers to embark the ship and transfer from the ship to city hotels and/or airport on disembarkation. Subject to change without notice.
International / domestic airfare; passport, visa and vaccination fees; travel insurance; excess baggage charges; items of a personal nature such as laundry, beverages, communications, medical supplies, etc.; landing fees; gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.
PHOTOS: © A Breniere; © A Fergus; © K Ovsyanikova; © N Russ; © T Bickford