Summary : New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands offer the richest pelagic ecosystem in the Southern Ocean. The list of birds is staggering — 126 species, including 40 seabirds of which 5 breed nowhere else in the world. The islands are home to 10 of the 21 species of albatross, and 6 of the 17 species of penguins. While more than 95% of the world’s population of New Zealand sea lions breed here. Little wonder that all have been designated National Nature Reserves, the highest possible conservation status. On this voyage, you will also visit the huge gannet colony of Cape Kidnappers and New Zealand’s fjords with their stunning alpine grandeur. Special permission has also been granted to visit the geothermal landscapes of White Island, a mecca for volcanists and adventurers, alike.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking
$999,999,999 to $0
Embark the ship in the afternoon and meet your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Enjoy time to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, and meet fellow travelers.
After a Zodiac transfer, set off on foot across the crater floor of New Zealand’s only active volcano. The spectacles are surreal: hissing fumaroles, lava bombs, glittering yellow sulfur crystals, bubbling mud pots and a spectacular steaming lake. Your guide will explain the history and volcanic formations. Visit an old sulfur-mining factory, abandoned after a devastating explosion in 1914. About 70% of the volcano remains under the sea, making this the largest volcanic structure in New Zealand.
The iconic Cape Kidnappers is home to the world’s largest mainland Gannet colony. Get up close to these amazing birds on a drive along the stunning coastline of Hawke’s Bay to Cape Kidnappers. Stop within just a few yards of the colony to watch the entertaining antics of these huge birds. Watch as gannets swoop and dive into the sea for food, while others preen themselves or perform the ritual dance of recognition. Enjoy the scenery and learn the history of the region on your way back to Napier. The country’s oldest winemaking region is renowned for its award-winning red wines, fresh produce and artisan food producers. Known as the “Art Deco Capital of the World”, admire Napier’s world-class collection of architecture before returning to the ship.
A leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Begin perhaps with a late breakfast and another cup of coffee or tea during the first of the day’s lectures. Hear fascinating tales of adventure and learn more about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. Knowledgeable Lecture Staff members are experts in a variety of fields.
Located 466 miles (750 km) east of New Zealand's South Island, these isolated islands are renowned for their peace and tranquility. Relax on deserted beaches, explore moody landscapes, catch fish, hike through scenic reserves and discover unique plant and bird life. The islands were first inhabited by the Moriori people, Polynesians with similar origins to the New Zealand Maori. European sealers and whalers were the next to arrive, followed by Maori from the New Zealand mainland. Today’s Chatham Islanders share both Moriori and Maori ancestry, and there are two Marae (community centers), on the main island.
The second largest island in the Chatham Archipelago, Pitt Island is surprisingly different from Chatham Island. The indigenous Moriori called the island Rangiaotea or Rangihaute; their archaeological remains are found almost everywhere here. Look for the Pitt Island Shag, endemic to these islands.
Make your way to New Zealand’s Sub-Antarctic Islands. The five islands (The Snares, Bounty, Antipodes Auckland and Campbell Island) are home to a huge abundance and diversity of seabirds and marine mammals. UNESCO collectively designated them as a World Heritage Site, “The most diverse and extensive of all sub-Antarctic archipelagos.” Here you can find the most significant populations of many species, such as the Southern Royal Albatross, Yellow-Eyed Penguin, Erect Crested Penguin and the New Zealand sea lion. They also offer a bounty of volcanic and glaciated geography—including cave-riddled basalt cliffs, pristine sugar-sand beaches, wind-and-water-chiseled monolithic rock formations and windswept grassy headlands.
In 1788, shortly before the famous mutiny on the Bounty, Captain William Bligh landed here and named the island group after his ship. This bare and windswept group of 22 slippery granite rocks is the most remote and least visited of New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Island. Yet in spite of their hostile environment, the islands manage to host thousands of seabirds in summer, including the world’s most rare cormorant, the Bounty Island Shag. The islands are also the stronghold for Erect-crested Penguin, which breed among the albatross. All Bounty Islands are designated “minimum-impact islands,” with no tourist landing; explore by Zodiac cruising along the shoreline.
A day at sea under the midnight sun presents even more opportunities to see the pelagic diversity of this region. Grab your binoculars and spend some time out on deck, where you may glimpse a startling diversity of birds, from Wandering and Royal, Albatross to the auk-like Diving petrel. Attend an ornithology lecture and learn more about the endemic birds of these islands. Remember to save some time to indulge in the luxurious amenities aboard Silver Discoverer.
Campbell Island, New Zealand’s southernmost sovereign territory was farmed and used for sealing and whaling until 1954 when it became a reserve and World Heritage Site. With six breeding species of albatross and mollymawks, Campbell is outstanding among the world’s albatross islands, and supports the main population of southern royal albatrosses. Take a walk in rata forests and among lofty ferns, and see Rockhopper and the rare Yellow-eyed Penguins, as well as several species of shags including the world’s rarest cormorant.
Enderby Island is perched on the Campbell Plateau and is composed of eroding volcanic remains, much like the main Auckland Island. Look for the Yellow-eyed Penguin, New Zealand Bellbird and Red-Crowned Parakeet, as well as Southern Royal Albatross which nest on the plateau. Auckland Island is the primary breeding ground for the world’s most rare and endangered Hooker sea lion, and it’s also the breeding ground for 30% of the world’s population of Yellow-Eyed Penguins.
Unlike other Sub-Antarctic Islands that were greatly affected by the whaling and sealing industry in the 19th century, The Snares remain one of the last near pristine areas in New Zealand. The islands are home to endemic bird species such as Snares Crested Penguin, Island Snipe, Fernbird and Black Tomtit, as well as several endemic invertebrates.
Explore Dusky Sound where seals and dolphins are often sighted and you just may witness the occasional whale. Keep your eye on land too as this is a prime-breeding site for Fiordland Penguins.
Using Zodiacs and the ship to explore, your Captain and Expeditions Leader work together to create the perfect schedule for your day.
Ulva Island delivers a wonderful natural history encounter, free of any invasive species. You’ll enjoy a spectacular natural history walk while marveling at the endemic plants and birdlife in this world-renowned sanctuary.
Following breakfast, disembark the vessel.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Join the Expedition Team on this highly immersive Birding Expedition voyage for an experience like no other, and one that will stay with you long after you’ve returned home. Together with passionate ornithologists, you can enjoy onboard lectures to discover and study a large variety of faraway bird species.
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee). Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; park entrance fees; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.