Birding Downunder - Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia

Heritage Expeditions
PO Box 6282
Christchurch, New Zealand
Tel: 64-3-338-9944
Fax: 64-3-338-3311

Mt. Honey & Wildflowers
Mt. Honey and Wildflowers
Discovered and then exploited by sealing gangs in the early 19th century these remote, isolated and seldom visited islands can be numbered among the last unspoilt environments on earth. Protected by the Southern Ocean, they are home to a large and rich diversity of plants, seabirds and marine mammals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. "Megaherbs," large-leafed herbaceous plants, flower during the brief Subantarctic summer producing a floral display described by Sir Joseph Hooker as "second to none outside the tropics." Fourteen species of the great albatross come ashore to breed as do many different species of petrels, prions and shearwaters. Eight species of penguins, three of which are endemic, breed on these islands and the world's rarest sealion makes its home on the Auckland and Campbell Island.

All the islands have recently been designated World Heritage Sites, recognizing their international importance. For the privileged visitor to these restricted entry islands there is a sense of wonder, overwhelming space in uncluttered landscapes, the majesty of nature from the solitary soaring albatross, the colourful and often loud colonies of penguins to the splendour of a pink daisy-like Pleurophyllum Speciosum blooming in perfection. Our expeditions to these islands provide an exceptional first hand experience of what is arguably one of the world's best kept secrets.

Day 1
Arrive at the city of Invercargill, New Zealand's southern-most city that was established by Scottish settlers with its wealth in the rich farmland. There are more sheep per acre in Southland than in any other part of New Zealand. On arrival please transfer to the Kelvin Hotel in the central city. A detailed programme will be available to you when you check in at reception. Dinner is at the hotel.

Day 2
Breakfast at your leisure in the dining room at the hotel. Your programme will advise a time for bags out and then we will be transferred to the Southland Museum for a special screening of the Subantarctic Islands video. There will also be an opportunity to view the special Subantarctic display in the Museum before going to lunch at a local restaurant. You will be transferred by coach to the Port of Bluff (27 km south of Invercargill) to board the Akademik Shokalskiy. Depart for the Snares Islands.

Day 3
The Snares is the first of the Subantarctic Islands that we will be visiting. It is an amazing island. More birds nest on this small island than there are seabirds around the entire British Isles. We will arrive early morning. Landings are not permitted so we zodiac cruise the sheltered eastern side. Cruising in the sheltered bays we should see the endemic Snares crested penguins, Tomtit and Fernbird. Cape pigeons, Antarctic terns, White-fronted terns and Red-billed gulls are around the coastline. There is an estimated 6 million Sooty shearwaters nesting on the Snares Islands (Bullers albatross nest here later in the season).
Hookers Sealion and Pup
Hookers Sealion and Pup

Arrive at Enderby Island, a great island to bird in the Auckland Island group. We make a landing at Sandy Bay, the main breeding ground for the Hookers Sealion with observations of the following species: Southern royal albatross, Northern giant petrel, Auckland Island shag, Auckland Island teal, Auckland Island banded dotterel, Auckland Island tomtit, Bellbird, Pipit, Red crowned parakeet, Yellow-eyed penguin, Light mantled sooty albatross. We will spend some time searching for the Subantarctic snipe. Other more common species we will see include Goldfinch, Song thrush, Blackbird, European starling, Red-bill gull, Redpoll. On Derrycastle Reef there is a good chance to see Bar-tailed godwit, Turnstone and perhaps other migratory waders.

This morning we will cruise to Carnley Harbour in the south of the main Auckland Islands. There will be an opportunity for the energetic participants to climb to the Southwest Cape Shy mollymawk colony. Wandering albatross nest above the colony amongst the tussock, we should get good views of these birds as they will be nesting at this time. Those remaining on board will explore the coastal forest with a chance to see New Zealand Falcon and enjoy close encounters with other bush birds. We depart the Auckland Islands in the mid afternoon and head south west to Macquarie Island.

Day 6
At sea we will have a series of lectures supported by videos of the biology and history of the Subantarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean. The Subantarctic Convergence Zone is traditionally very close to the area we are sailing through so we should expect the birdlife to reflect this as we get closer to Macquarie Island. We will be at sea all day, another opportunity to see pelagic species, including Wandering albatross, Royal albatross, Shy (white capped) albatross, Light-mantled sooty albatross, Grey headed albatross, Black browed albatross, White chinned petrel, Mottled petrel, White headed petrel, Cape petrel, Diving petrel, Grey backed and Black bellied storm petrel.

Days 7 & 8
Arrive at Macquarie Island which is, of course, the only place to see the Royal penguin and there is an abundance of these. King penguins are also found in large numbers. Two other penguin species breed on Macquarie Island, the Gentoo and the Rockhopper. Along the coast we will see the Imperial (Macquarie) shag. Redpolls can be seen as can the European starling along the cliff edges. We plan to land at ANARE base and at Sandy Bay. We will also zodiac cruise Lusitania Bay, where there is a huge King penguin colony. We continue our exploration of Macquarie Island and then depart for Campbell Island on the afternoon of our second day.

Day 9
At sea en-route to Campbell Island, we will see a similar range of species as we saw en-route to Macquarie Island from the Auckland Islands.

Day 10
Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
Light-mantled Sooty Albatross
Arriving early in the morning we will spend the day exploring the island by foot from Perseverance Harbour. Campbell Island is a magnificent island. Sadly rats got ashore shortly after the Islands were discovered and they have wrecked havoc with many of the smaller petrels and prions. Nevertheless there is still some great birding and an opportunity to get some good photographs, especially of the Royal albatross. We will spend the day ashore to see the Southern royal albatross, Light-mantled sooty albatross, Northern giant petrel, Campbell Island shag, Rockhopper penguin, Southern skua, Red billed gull, Black backed gull, Antarctic tern, Redpoll, Dunnock and the New Zealand pipit. The regeneration of the megaherbs since the removal of the sheep in the 1970's/80's is a spectacle to behold.

Day 11
At sea en-route to the Antipodes. It is a day for the pelagic species. Wandering albatross, Royal albatross, Black-browed albatross, Light mantled sooty albatross, Salvins albatross, Grey headed albatross, Northern and Southern giant petrel, Sooty shearwater, Little shearwater. We will endeavour to sort out the Fairy prion, Fulmar prion and Antarctic prion which are not always easy but we should get some great views. Other species to be on the look out for include Soft-plumaged petrel, Mottled petrel, White-headed petrel, Grey-faced petrel, White chinned petrel, Grey backed storm petrel, Wilsons storm petrel, Black-bellied storm petrel and Common diving petrel.

Day 12
Antipodes Island is one of the most isolated and least known of the New Zealandís Subantarctic Islands. We will zodiac cruise the coastline where we should see the Antipodes Island parakeet and also the Red-crowned, which is a strong subspecies. We will also see the Antipodes subspecies of the NZ Pipit. Redpolls and Starlings can also be seen. Both Rockhopper and Erect crested penguins frequent the coastline. There are usually a good number of Antarctic terns and Kelp gull.

Day 13
En-route to the Bounty Islands, inhospitable granite knobs lashed by the Southern Ocean we should see Wandering albatross, Bullers albatross, Shy(white capped) mollymawk, Salvins mollymawk, Northern giant petrel, Cape petrel, Antarctic fulmar, Mottled petrel, Soft plumaged petrel, Broad billed prion, Fulmar prion, White chinned petrel, Sooty shearwater, Little shearwater, Grey backed and White faced storm petrel, Wilsons storm petrel and Diving petrel. There is a very good chance that we should see the Chatham Island petrel and we will be keeping a close watch for the Magenta petrel. Arrive at the Bounty Islands early morning to zodiac cruise. Erect crested penguin and the Bounty Island Shag will feature on our bird lists for this area. We depart for the Chatham Islands.

Day 14
En-route to the Chatham Archipelago will be another time for pelagic watching. We will be especially interested in looking out for the Chatham Island Petrel (it has been seen on this leg of the voyage before) and also the very rare Chatham Island Taiko or Magenta Petrel.

Days 15 & 16
We will arrive at the Chathamís travelling past Pyramid Rock which is the breeding place of the Chatham Island Mollymawk. At South East Island (Rangatira) we will zodiac cruise (landings are not permitted) and should obtain good views of the very rare Shore Plover and the Chatham Island Oystercatcher. Our landing on the main Chatham Island will let us see the endemic Chatham Island cormorant. This archipelago has been isolated for thousands of years and both the birds and plants show a high degree of endemism. Sadly many of the species have become extinct because of extensive development and burning. During our birding excursion we should see Chatham Island shag, Pitt Island Shag, Chatham Island warbler. Leaving the Chathamís we will head for the Port of Otago and the city of Dunedin.
Shy Albatross
Shy Albatross

Days 17 & 18
En-route we will cross what is known as the Chatham Rise. It is a relatively shallow area of water, compared with the rest of the surrounding ocean, it is also one of the best places for pelagic watching with an overlap of both northern or more temperate species and those birds from southern latitudes. We can expect to see Wandering albatross, Royal albatross, Black-browed albatross, Shy (white capped) albatross, Salvins albatross, Northern giant petrel, Cape petrel, Fairy prion, Broad-billed prion, Westland black petrel, White chinned petrel, Flesh footed shearwater, Bullers shearwater, Sooty shearwater, Grey-backed storm petrel, White-faced storm petrel, Cooks petrel, Diving petrel, Little shearwater, Great-winged petrel.

Day 19
We will arrive in Dunedin and after completing formalities passengers will be able to disembark.

About Us
Heritage Expeditions, New Zealandís award winning Expedition Company, was established in 1985 by NZ Wildlife Officer, Rodney Russ. Our Expedition Cruises to the Subantarctic and Antarctica have been developed so that more people can see and experience these remote, isolated environments and the birds and animals that breed there. We believe it is essential that as many people as possible have this opportunity, so that they may advocate or support the conservation of these and other wild places.

Akademik Shokalskiy
Akademik Shokalskiy
Our Expedition Vessel ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, is one of the best run ships of it kind. On board the atmosphere is peaceful and warm, more akin to a private yacht than a cruise ship. With just 46 passengers a very tangible camaraderie is created amongst passengers and crew. The ship is under the command of an experienced team of Russian Officers, with New Zealand and Australian hotel and expedition staff.

Built in 1983, the Akademik Shokalskiy measures 72 metres in length and is fully ice-strengthened. Powered by two, 1,156 horse power, diesel engines. It is capable of speeds of up to 12 knots. The vessel is fitted with stabilisers, making travel much more comfortable. Excellent accommodation is provided in twin share cabins, approximately half of which have private facilities and the remainder shared facilities. On board is a bar, library and lounge. We also encourage you to spend time on the bridge to witness our experienced captain and officers in action, recognised as experts in polar navigation. Our team of expert staff are always on hand to assist with every need and question.

Throughout the voyage we maintain a lookout for seabirds, dolphins or whales and keep an expedition log, a bound copy of which will be sent to everybody at the conclusion of the expedition. The key to these expeditions is the fleet of semi rigid inflatable Naiad craft, also known as zodiacs. These extremely safe and stable craft will land you at some of the most amazing places, where few others have ever been.

Dining is informal and relaxed, and the cuisine outstanding. Award winning chefs prepare delicious meals and are able to cater for any special dietary requirements. A selection of fine New Zealand and Australian wines is available.

Trip Date and Costs

Our Other Trips
Throughout the summer months of the Southern Hemisphere, we offer other nature expeditions that explore New Zealand, the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia, the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Contact us for more information.

Home Great Deals Destinations Activity Things to Know Email Planning Our Friends Disclaimer

© copyright 1996-2001 Adventures Great and Small