Summary : Isolated, windswept, beautiful and fragile, New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands are unique and irreplaceable, a privileged visit. Described by the United Nations Environment Program as “The most diverse and extensive of all sub-Antarctic archipelagos,” all five island groups - the Bounty Islands, the Antipodes Islands, the Snares Islands, the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island - were honored with World Heritage status in 1998. The New Zealand sub-Antarctic islands are blessed with the most significant populations of many species, such as the Southern Royal Albatross, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin and the New Zealand Sea Lion. They are particularly notable for the large number and variety of pelagic seabirds and penguins that nest there. This expedition to the Sub-Antarctic islands is designed for nature lovers and photographers alike.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking
$999,999,999 to $0
The Otago region was settled by Maori's over four centuries ago, with Scottish migrants establishing a small town in 1848. After gold was discovered, Dunedin rapidly developed to become New Zealand's biggest city and the country's industrial and commercial heart of the time. Many ornate heritage buildings dating from this period still stand today. The Botanic Gardens, New Zealand's first, are located at the northern end of the city on the lower slopes of Signal Hill.
Orion is the perfect viewing platform from which to see World Heritage listed Milford Sound; a memorable scenic cruise that includes glacial carved hanging valleys, the iconic 1600-meter high Mitre Peak and magnificent Stirling Falls. The Maori were the first to ascribe creation of the fjords to a “titanic mason,” Tute Rakiwhanoa – a concept you will find totally believable as Orion slips beneath sheer granite cliffs, not yet worn smooth by time.
Experience spectacular cruising through pristine wilderness in the very heart of Fjordland National Park, which is the largest in New Zealand and one of the largest in the world. The park is bordered to the east by glacial lakes and to the west by the 14 fiords that give Fjordland its name. Orion enters via Thompson Sound en route to Doubtful and Dusky Sounds.
At a depth of 421 meters, Doubtful is the deepest of these fjords. Exuding a peaceful serenity, it is sometimes called “the Sound of Silence.” Abundant in both flora and fauna, these fjordlands are renowned for their excellent dolphin and seal viewing opportunities, either from Orion or onboard one of Orion's Zodiacs. Fjordland Crested Penguins are often seen on many of the small islets at the entrance of the fjord and at Nee Islets there is a fur seal colony. Doubtful and Dusky both include spectacular ship-based cruising as Orion winds her way through the fjords. Due to strict national park controls, Zodiac cruising is tightly monitored, but does allow a cruise and a landing at Astronomer’s Point where a short walk is possible.
Stewart Island is the southernmost island of New Zealand. The forest is a haven for bird-life including Kaka, Parakeets and Bellbirds, as there are fewer predators than on the mainland. New Zealand's national bird, the Kiwi, is found all around the island, often seen feeding on sandhoppers at the beach. Most sand is golden, however, there is black-iron sand on some beaches, while others are white with quartz or red with garnet. Orion will make her way along the sheltered eastern coast of Stewart Island (Rakiura), 96% of which is designated as Rakiura National Park. Your ship will anchor in Paterson Inlet to visit the quaint fishing village of Oban in Halfmoon Bay with its art and craft shops and the wildlife sanctuary on Ulva Island.
Zodiac transfers to Golden Bay Wharf that allow you access to Oban township are offered today. You will also have the choice of a guided walking tour of Ulva Island Bird Sanctuary or a guided coach tour of Oban township and surrounds on the “Village and Bay Tour.”
Two small rocky islands, North East and Broughton, comprise The Snares, the closest sub-Antarctic islands to New Zealand. The islands are covered with heavy tussock grass and wind-beaten forests of tree daisies. Weather permitting, Zodiacs will be launched for an exploration of the sheltered eastern coastline as the island’s wildlife protection program precludes landings. Zodiacs allow you to get up as close as practical to the abundant bird life. The Snares are home to huge numbers of breeding birds, 99 recorded species including albatross, Antarctic Terns and Snares Crested Penguin.
Sites in Port Ross may be visited including an abandoned Maori settlement, a German expedition observation point at Terror Cove and a WWII coast watching station at Ranui Cove. In Carnley Harbor, castaway depots at Camp Cove are marked by an A frame building built in 1887 by the crew of the Awarua, inscribed with the names of people from the French Bark Angou wrecked in 1905. You may cruise to Victoria Passage, a dramatic opening at the end of Carnley Harbor. The birdlife of Auckland Island is profuse.
Campbell Island was first discovered in January 1810, by Captain Frederick Hasselburg, master of the sealing brig, Perseverance. He named the island after his employers, Robert Campbell and Co. of Sydney, and sadly drowned later that year after a boat capsized in Perseverance Harbor. Campbell is a volcanic island with fascinating rock formations. Fifty years ago, between 2 and 3 million Rock Hopper Penguins were nesting on the island, but since then 90% have been decimated by bacterial infection. Erect Crested Penguins are found here in small numbers and less than 20 pairs of Wandering Albatross nest. Approximately 8,500 pairs of Royal Albatross and about 74,000 pairs of Black Browed Mollymawk also call the island home. Over 40 other breeds of birds, including the Southern Royal Albatross have also been observed on Campbell Island.
At sea, the expedition team will be on hand to give you an overview of all aspects of sub-Antarctic life, with lectures and presentations on wildlife, environmental sustainability and the history of this region. These lectures are given by some of the foremost experts in their fields including botany, marine biology, anthropology and history.
They will highlight the many things to look forward to as you make your way to Macquarie Island. The closer you get, the more abundant the birds will become. Spend some time on deck viewing and photographing the beautiful wildlife of this region.
Often described as one of the "wonder spots" of the world, the sub-Antarctic island of Macquarie has been said to rival South Georgia in its magnificence, scenic diversity and prolific wildlife. Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and a World Heritage Site in 1977, Macquarie now operates a full-time manned station where biological and meteorological research is conducted. The station, located on the isthmus at Buckles Bay, is from where you will collect the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife rangers who will be your guides.
Zodiacs will take you ashore at Sandy Bay, your planned landing site. Once ashore you'll find the bay, with its rugged backdrop of mountains and tussock covered headlands, home to 20,000 breeding pairs of royal penguins, king penguins, rock hopper penguins, gentoo penguins and elephant seals. This profusion of wildlife wasn't always so protected, the rusting remains of machinery used by whalers being stark reminders of the exploitation which took place on the island during its early history.
As you sail north, reflect on the amazing experiences of the past days with your fellow travelers. Take advantage of the amenities of your luxury expedition vessel.
Disembark in Christchurch.
Ports of call and itinerary may be subject to weather and tidal conditions, and is subject to change.
Accommodations onboard, cruise transportation, all meals onboard, 24-hour room service, entertainment and educational programs, use of ship's sporting equipment and facilities, port and handling charges; Zodiac excursions and tender transfers; access to the ship's library; government fees and taxes; services of 75 experienced crew.
Airfare; travel and medical insurance, laundry charges, shopping onboard, bar expenses, hair dressing and massage treatments, optional shore experiences, medical treatment, telephone and internet charges.