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Sub-Antarctic Islands – Birding Down Under

Sub-Antarctic Islands Cruise Information

Summary : Explore a region with the most diverse collection of seabirds in the world. The “Birding Down Under” expedition encompasses Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie Islands, as well as the Chatham Archipelago, which lies just north of the Subantarctic region and is renowned for its high degree of endemism. There will be plenty of time ashore and Zodiac cruising with experienced local birders to see and photograph the many endemic island species. These islands can be numbered among the last unspoiled environments on Earth. To ensure the continued protection of these islands, visitor numbers are limited. With this exception of the Chathams, these wildlife-rich islands are all designated UNESCO World Heritage sites and are afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments. Birders, photographers, citizen scientists and adventure lovers will find this a unique and immensely enjoyable voyage of discovery.

This expedition 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.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins


Prices from
$11,250 to $16,500

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Day 1
Invercargill, New Zealand

Meet this evening for an informal get-together at the hotel for dinner, meet fellow adventurers on your voyage and members of your expedition team.

Day 2
Port of Bluff / Embark

Enjoy a visit to the Southland Museum to view the special Subantarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff where you board the Spirit of Enderby.

Day 3
The Snares – North East Island

Cruise by Zodiac along the sheltered eastern side of North East Island, if weather and sea conditions are suitable. Observe the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbirds. You should also see Cape Pigeons, Antarctic Terns, White-fronted Terns and Red-billed Gulls. There are hundreds of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters nesting here. Buller’s Albatross breed here from late December onwards.

Day 4
Auckland Islands – Enderby Island

Enderby Island is a great place to view birds and wildlife. Visit Sandy Bay, the main breeding ground for the rare New Zealand (Hooker’s) Sea Lion and just one of three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands. There are chances to observe the Southern Royal Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Auckland Island Shag, Auckland Island Flightless Teal, Auckland Island Banded Dotterel, Auckland Island Tomtit, Bellbird, Pipit, Red-crowned Parakeet, Yellow-eyed Penguin and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. Keep a lookout for the rare Subantarctic Snipe. On Derry Castle Reef, there is a good chance of seeing the Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, and perhaps other migratory waders.

Day 5
Auckland Islands – Carnley Harbour

These islands have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by and harbor tales of castaways and coastwatchers. If weather and sea conditions are suitable energetic expeditioners are able to climb to the South West Cape Shy Albatross colony where Gibson’s Wandering Albatross nest amongst the tussocks above the colony.

Day 6
At Sea

At sea you will have a series of lectures of the biology and history of the Sub Antarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean. The closer you get to Macquarie Island, the more abundant the birds will become. You will be at sea all day, another opportunity to see pelagic species, including Wandering Albatross Species, Royal Albatross, Shy and White-capped Albatross, and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, among others.

Day 7 – 8
Macquarie Island

The only place in the world where the beautiful Royal Penguin breeds, this remote outpost supports a breath-taking concentration of wildlife. You will never forget your first experience of a noisy "penguin city" where you will be witness to a thousand chattering, feeding chicks; territorial disputes; petty pilfering and courtship displays: King, Gentoo and Rockhopper Penguins can be seen here. Meet with Park Rangers and seek out the thousands of Southern Elephant Seals lolling on the beaches and along the coast, Redpolls and Imperial Shag can often be spotted.

Day 9
At Sea

Keep a keen lookout for cetaceans, albatrosses, and petrels today, relax in the ship’s bar or catch up on your reading in the library.

Day 10
Campbell Island

Drop anchor in Perseverance Harbor. Once on shore, walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross or to Northwest Bay, pass beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. During the day ashore you should see the Campbell Island Shag, Southern Skua, Antarctic Tern, Dunnock, New Zealand Pipit, Campbell Island Teal and hopefully the elusive Campbell Island Snipe.

Day 11
At Sea

Join your captain on the bridge, where you keep a keen lookout for species commonly seen in this area: Black-browed Albatross, Campbell Island Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Sooty Shearwater, and Little Shearwater. There should be plenty of petrels and the hard to identify prion species.

Day 12
Antipodes Island

One of the most isolated, least known and rugged of the Subantarctic Islands; landings are not permitted here, so you will cruise along the coast looking for the endemic Antipodes Island and Reischek’s Parakeet. You might 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
Pyramid Rock

Continue north towards the Chatham Islands, with similar species accompanying you in the ship's wake. Towards evening, approach the islands and move closer to the Subantarctic and sub tropical convergence where you witness a subtle change in the species composition. Late this afternoon, arrive at the spectacular Pyramid Rock, the only breeding place of the Chatham Island Albatross.

Day 15
Chatham Islands

This morning, go ashore on the main island where you might see the endemic Chatham Island Shag and along the coast the Chatham Island Oystercatcher. Visit a private bush reserve on the south coast to see the Chatham Island Warbler, Chatham Island Pigeon and Tui. This afternoon have another look for the Magenta and Chatham Island Petrels.

Day 16
South East Island and Mangere Islands

Arrive early morning at South East Island, one of the world’s greatest nature reserves. Plan to Zodiac cruise in search of the endangered Shore Plover. Keep your eyes peeled for the Pitt Island Shag. Before departing the archipelago, visit the Mangere Islands from which the endemic Black Robin was rescued.

Day 17 – 18
At Sea

En route to Dunedin, cross the Chatham Rise; 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

Your adventure ends at this historic Otago Harbor. Early this morning, arrive in port and after a final breakfast, say your farewells before disembarking and transferring by complimentary coach to either a central city point or to the airport.


The above itinerary is a guide only, as the exact program depends on weather and sea conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Mandatory Travel Insurance:
As a requirement for participation in this program, all passengers must purchase full medical and emergency evacuation insurance for the specific areas they will be visiting. The policy provider, policy number, and contact phone number must be provided prior to departure date. Plans are available through various sources, and ExpeditionTrips can assist U.S. residents with travel protection options.

Cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; onboard lectures and access to public areas; services of expedition leaders; shore excursions as described; one-night hotel accommodation (twin share basis) the night prior to embarkation, including breakfast; pre- and post-cruise group transfers; shipboard accommodations; all meals onboard the ship. Rubber boots may be available on request. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare to and from your home to the port of departure and port of arrival; passport and visa fees; travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, and medical services; gratuities; landing fees; fuel surcharge may apply.

PHOTOS: © E Bell; © K Ovsyanikova; © T Bickford

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