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Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand

Sub-Antarctic Islands New Zealand Cruise Information

Summary : Visit the sub-Antarctic islands of Macquarie, Campbell, Auckland, and The Snares. Many of these far-flung islands require special permits that only an exclusive number of operators hold.
Observe multiple albatross species—wandering, white-capped, Salvin's, Campbell, gray-headed, Buller's, light-mantled sooty, and northern and southern royal—as well as colonies of king, royal, rockhopper, Snares, and gentoo penguins. Search the elfin forests for yellow-eyed penguins, bellbirds, tomtits, and red-crowned parakeets. Cruise through Milford, Dusky, and Doubtful sounds, a supremely scenic land of soaring cliffs and plunging waterfalls.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking


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Day 1 – 2
Depart USA

Board your independent flight to New Zealand. Lose a day crossing the International Date Line.

Day 3
Dunedin, New Zealand

Arrive in Dunedin and transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 4
Dunedin / Embark Caledonian Sky

Today, choose one of two local discovery options:

Take a drive to a local sanctuary where introduced predators have been removed and native species flourish, then drive to Taiaroa Head to visit the world-famous northern royal albatross colony.

Or, enjoy a scenic drive to Larnach Castle, then join a local historian for a walk through the heart of enchanting Dunedin, viewing the distinct Edwardian and Victorian architectural styles of First Church and St. Paul Cathedral. Board the Caledonian Sky this afternoon.

Day 5
At Sea

Join naturalists inside for lectures and on deck to look for royal, shy, and Buller’s albatross, plus a host of southern ocean petrels as you cruise to Enderby Island.

Day 6
Enderby, Auckland Islands

Today, nature walks lead you through lush vegetation and rata forests to explore this incredible island. Station yourself near a beach covered with Hooker’s sea lions to watch yellow-eyed penguins, one of the rarest penguins in the world, as they return to their nesting sites. In the elfin forest, search for bellbirds, tomtits, and red-crowned parakeets.

Day 7
At Sea

Attend lectures during a day at sea, and join naturalists on deck to search for seabirds and marine mammals.

Day 8 – 9
Macquarie Island, Australia

Spend two days exploring Macquarie Island. Though weather will determine the landings, the hope is to visit a king penguin colony as well as colonies of royal and gentoo penguins. Elephant seals can be found set against a background of mountains and tussock-covered headlands. The endemic Macquarie Island cormorant, northern and southern giant petrels, and brown skuas will also be discovered, in this truly incredible landscape.

Day 10
At Sea

Join naturalists for lectures inside, and on deck to look for royal, white-capped, and Buller’s albatross, plus a host of southern ocean petrels as you cruise towards Campbell Island.

Day 11
Campbell Island, New Zealand

Campbell Island is home to a multitude of seabirds, marine mammals, and unique sub-Antarctic megaherbs. Photographic opportunities include encounters with nesting southern royal albatross, as well as Hooker’s sea lions. Birders search for the endemic Campbell teal and Campbell snipe; both species were previously believed to be extinct. Spectacular views are the reward for a climb to the top of Col Lyall.

Day 12
The Snares

Board Zodiacs for a cruise around The Snares. This nature reserve is home to millions of breeding sooty shearwaters, as well as Buller’s albatross, Cape petrels, and the endemic Snares crested penguin and Snares fernbird.

Day 13
Stewart Island / Ulva Island

Peaceful Stewart Island is home to fewer than 500 inhabitants. Explore the coastline before anchoring in Paterson Inlet. Nearby Ulva Island is a predator-free sanctuary with lush temperate rainforest. It is a wonderful place to view the South Island robin, South Island saddleback, yellowhead, and the curious weka, a flightless rail. In the afternoon local guides lend insight into the island’s unique environment and Maori and early European sealing and whaling history.

Day 14
Dusky & Breaksea Sounds, Fiordland National Park

Today is devoted to Fiordland National Park, a nearly uninhabited wilderness with breathtakingly beautiful fjords. Part of Te Wahipounamu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Fiordland National Park is famed for spectacular glacier-carved waterways and unique flora and fauna. In Dusky Sound explore by Zodiacs to discover rainforest luxuriant with tree ferns, mosses, and lichens and visit Astronomer’s Point, the site of a temporary observatory established during Captain Cook’s 1773 voyage. The forests and waterways are home to many birds—bellbirds, tui, fantails, and the kereru, a large native pigeon.

Day 15
Doubtful Sound

Keep your binoculars ready as the ship slowly cruises Doubtful Sound, inspecting the coves where rare Fiordland crested penguins are sometimes found.

Day 16
Milford Sound / Disembark / Queenstown

Be on deck this morning to watch the panorama of Milford’s sheer cliff faces, which rise thousands of feet almost vertically from the water’s edge, as well as the crashing waters of Bowen and Stirling Falls and the stunning mile-high Mitre Peak. Disembark for a short drive to the picturesque town of Te Anau for lunch. Continue to Queenstown, with dinner and overnight at your hotel.

Day 17

Today choose one of three excursion options, designed to highlight Queenstown’s natural and cultural attributes:

Journey through the dramatic Lord of the Rings landscapes of Central Otago and meet the winemakers of the world’s southernmost wine-producing region.

Or, take a thrilling jet boat ride amongst stunning scenery, then ride the Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak.

Or, spend the day looking for the famed black stilt, one of the World’s rarest shorebirds, as well as other birds of interest.

Alternatively, you may choose to explore Queenstown on your own, browsing the private studios, gardens, and galleries of internationally renowned artists.

Return to the hotel for a farewell dinner and overnight.

Day 18
Queenstown / USA

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.


Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Arrival and departure transfers on group dates; accommodations as per the itinerary; $80 gear certificate; all meals onboard ship and group meals ashore; select beverages (soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner); gratuities; limited emergency medical and evacuation coverage*. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; excess baggage charges; airport arrival and departure taxes; transfers for independent arrivals and departures; passport and/or visa fees; additional travel insurance; items of a personal nature such as laundry, additional bar charges, alcoholic beverages (other than listed above), fax/telephone charges; fuel surcharge may apply.

*Emergency Medical & Evacuation Insurance:
Emergency medical coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $25,000 is included in the cost of this expedition, as well as evacuation coverage to a maximum benefit per paying passenger of $100,000. Insurance is underwritten by National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The policy will contain reductions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions. All coverages may not be available in all states. Please note this coverage does not cover you against trip cancellation or for additional days of travel prior to and/or after the expedition trip dates. ExpeditionTrips strongly advises all clients to purchase travel insurance which includes trip cancellation and interruption coverage for the entire duration of your trip.

Photos ©: Giovanna Fasanelli, Zegrahm Expeditions

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