Days 1 - 2Dunedin, New ZealandPre-voyage hotel night, embark on Day 2!
Day 3At SeaMeet your fellow travellers, learn about the fascinating places you'll be visiting
Days 4 - 6New Zealand's Subantarctic IslandsGreat cultural and spiritual significance, unique endemic species such as the yellow-eyed penguin
Day 7At SeaIndulge in some rest and relaxation
Days 8 - 9Macquarie IslandHome to 3.5 million breeding seabirds, including four species of penguin
Days 10 - 12At SeaKeep watch for albatross that may follow the ship
Days 13 - 18Ross SeaGlobally significant wildlife sanctuary, uniquely adapted Antarctic species
Days 19 - 26At SeaDaily programs of educational activities, entertainment and citizen science programs
Days 27 - 31Antarctic PeninsulaSpectacular ice cliffs, icebergs, whales, seals and penguins
Day 32 - 33At SeaReflect on the experiences of the past few weeks
Day 34Ushuaia, ArgentinaFarewell your expedition team and fellow passengers, disembark


Douglas Mawson

Setting sail in 2025, the Douglas Mawson is a new state-of-the-art ship and the last in a line of purpose-built vessels that have redefined small ship expedition cruising. Named after the legendary Australian geologist and explorer, this new small ship embodies Mawson’s pioneering spirit and is designed for global discovery. The Douglas Mawson features a host of amenities to help you connect with like-minded travellers and elevate your time onboard your floating base camp for adventure. After a long day of exploring, head to the back deck to swim in the heated outdoor swimming pool, find a sun bed to read on, or soak in one of two Jacuzzis. Work up a sweat in the gym before unwinding in the sauna, resolve to learn something new in the Citizen Science Centre, then enjoy a delicious meal with new and old friends in one of two restaurants. Or, with multiple observation areas throughout the ship, simply relax in comfort while you keep watch for wildlife or incredible landscapes that unfold before you.

Days 1 – 2 Dunedin, New Zealand


Arrive in Dunedin, where you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred with your fellow expeditioners to your assigned pre-voyage hotel.

That evening, enjoy light refreshments as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception and Pre-Embarkation Briefing. Afterwards, enjoy your evening in New Zealand’s southernmost capital city. You may like to indulge in a meal at one of Dunedin’s fine restaurants, or perhaps enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Otago harbour.

The following morning, enjoy breakfast and checkout, before spending some time at leisure exploring Dunedin. Afterwards, settle into your beautifully appointed cabin and discover the many public spaces designed with your comfort in mind. The luxurious vessel is yours to explore! Join your expedition team on deck before tucking into a delicious dinner, and toast to the voyage ahead.

Day 3 At Sea

Albatross at Sea

On an expedition such as this, the journey is as significant as the destination. Sea days are a wonderful opportunity to relax, meet your fellow travellers and learn about the history, environment and local wildlife in this fascinating corner of the globe.

As you acclimatise to life on board, your expedition team is available to answer any questions you may have and offer pro-tips on photography and birdwatching. Specialists across a range of fields will offer entertaining talks and presentations on the local wildlife and history.

Once you’ve settled in, you may like to pamper yourself with a sauna, or work out at the onboard gym. For the bookworms, the well-equipped polar library is the perfect place to while away the hours at sea, and the bar is a vibrant social hub to get to know your fellow expeditioners.

Days 4 – 6 New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands

Yellow Eyed Penguins, Enderby

Scattered across the Southern Ocean 465 kilometers (300 miles) south of New Zealand, these islands have been visited by Polynesian and Māori navigators for centuries, and are of great cultural and spiritual significance to Ngāi Tahu, the indigenous peoples of New Zealand’s South Island. Here you have the opportunity to witness a finely tuned subantarctic ecosystem populated by unique endemic species such as the yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho) and Campbell mollymawk.

Day 7 At Sea

Whale and Antarctic Tern

As Campbell Island slips over the horizon, keep watch for Campbell, Salvins and white-capped albatross, which may follow the ship to bid us farewell as we continue south.

Join your expedition team in the lecture room to hear about the fascinating human history of Macquarie Island, and how to identify the unique and charismatic creatures we hope to see in the coming days.

Days 8 – 9 Macquarie Island

Royal Penguins and Southern Elephant Seals Macquarie Island

As they sailed towards Antarctica, Mawson and his men encountered ‘an exquisite scene’. Macquarie Island (known affectionately as Macca) rises steeply from the Southern Ocean in a series of emerald summits: a beautifully fierce, elemental landscape teeming with life.

Keep your binoculars handy because this subantarctic refuge is home to 3.5 million breeding seabirds, including no less than four species of penguin! Alongside boisterous colonies of tuxedoed kings, charming gentoos, robust rockhoppers and endemic royal penguins, you’ll find three types of fur seals and a large proportion of the world’s elephant seals. Layer up and head out on deck as you approach one of the largest concentrations of life in the Southern Ocean.

Remember to keep an eye out for Macca’s kelp forests—these remarkable underwater ecosystems are quite mesmerising as their fronds sway back and forth on the water’s surface.

In addition to being a globally recognised and protected wildlife refuge, Macquarie Island played an important role in Antarctic history. It was here, in 1911, that five men disembarked Mawson’s Aurora and established a radio relay station which would transmit the first communication from Antarctica to the outside world.

Days 10 – 12 At Sea

Wandering Albatross at sea

As Macquarie Island slips over the horizon, keep watch for wandering, grey-headed, black-browed and light-mantled albatross, which may follow the ship to bid you farewell as you continue south.

Close observers may notice a subtle change in the character of the sea as you cross the Antarctic Convergence. Beyond this zone where the waters of the north and south mix, the sea surface temperature drops by about 4°C, signalling your entry into the Antarctic. This transition zone is known for its nutrient-rich waters, so keep watch for porpoising penguins, flocks of fluttering Antarctic petrels, or perhaps the more solitary snow petrel. You’re not far from the Antarctic Circle, so your first iceberg can’t be far away!

Sea days are a great opportunity to relax, unwind, and prepare for the next phase of your voyage. Join your expedition team in the lecture room for presentations on the charismatic wildlife and extraordinary adventures that took place along the epic Antarctic coastline you are about to experience.

Days 13 – 18 Ross Sea

Adelie Penguins

It’s almost impossible to describe the feeling of arriving in this storied, ice-bound sector of Antarctica. Stepping outside and taking a deep breath of some of the most fresh, crisp air on earth is an experience to cherish forever.

The Ross Sea region is a globally significant wildlife sanctuary. Its nutrient-rich waters support an astonishing array of uniquely adapted Antarctic species, including Ross Sea orcas, Antarctic petrels and South Pacific Weddell seals. It is also home to Antarctica’s largest Adélie penguin colony, and many of the largest emperor penguin colonies. The unique biodiversity of the Ross Sea has been protected within the world’s largest marine protected area since 2016.

The human heritage of the Ross Sea coast is equally impressive. Since James Clark Ross discovered the region in 1841, countless expeditions have built base camps on scattered ice-free slivers of land, using them as staging posts for bold forays across the polar plateau. Many of them departed in a hurry, leaving artefacts, scientific equipment and sometimes entire huts behind. Today these sites are preserved as open-air museums and protected under the Antarctic Treaty System.

Embrace the spirit of exploration as your expedition team designs your voyage from day to day, bringing decades of experience to selecting the ideal sites based on the prevailing weather, ice conditions and wildlife opportunities.

Days 19 – 26 At Sea

At Sea

As you reach the halfway mark of your voyage, these days at sea offer time and space to reflect on the emotions and special moments you’ve experienced so far.

For the next week, find your rhythm and settle into life at sea. Your expedition team will offer a daily program of educational activities, entertainment and citizen science programs, which you are welcome to attend. Join them for lectures and daily recaps of your progress, weather and trajectory. Take advantage of the many shared spaces on board: relax in the sauna, work out in the gym or grab a cuppa and peruse the library shelves as the ice shelves guarding the West Antarctic coast slide by.

There is plenty of time to enjoy the magic of the Southern Ocean and the life that calls it home – especially as you gain a day by crossing the international date line! As always, the best place on the ship is out on deck, where Antarctic prions, snow petrels and great whales await.

As you skirt the forbidding ice cliffs guarding the Antarctic ice sheet, spare a thought for British explorer James Cook, whose historic circumnavigation of Antarctica in the late 18th century encountered nothing but treacherous ‘ice islands’ and perilous winds that threatened to blow their wooden sailboat into the sea ice. The search for Antarctica, which had been going for hundreds of years, ground to a halt, only resuming when a merchant sailor named William Smith chanced upon the South Shetland Islands in 1819. This discovery sparked visits from the sealers, whalers and scientists who would define the earliest eras of Antarctic exploration.

Your voyage continues west past the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas, towards the southern extremity of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Days 27 – 31 Antarctic Peninsula

zodiac antarctica resize

While on the Peninsula, you will generally make landings or Zodiac excursions twice a day. View spectacular ice cliffs or explore grounded icebergs, keeping an eye out for whales, seals and penguins, which frequently travel and feed in these waters. Zodiacs will also transport you from the ship to land, where you can visit penguin rookeries, discover historic sites and explore some of our favourite spots along the Peninsula.

While ashore, wander along pebbly beaches or perhaps up snow-covered ridgelines to vantage points with mountains towering overhead and ice-speckled oceans below. Keen polar plungers will have the chance to fully immerse themselves in polar waters – conditions permitting!

In addition to Zodiac cruises and shore excursions, you may ship cruise some of the narrow, dramatic straits separating offshore islands from the mainland, or linger in scenic bays to marvel at sculptural icebergs and photograph spectacular scenery. This is a great time to enjoy panoramic views from the observation lounge or make your way to the bridge (open at the Captain’s discretion) for uninterrupted views of Antarctica in all its splendour.

Days 32 – 33 At Sea

Bird at Sea

The South Shetland Islands is a volcanic island group around a day’s sail from the Antarctic Peninsula. You will aim to land or Zodiac cruise at one of the many appealing coves, bays and beaches, with the opportunity to see chinstrap and gentoo penguin colonies, fur and elephant seals, and the historic remnants of the sealing and whaling age.

In the afternoon, begin your transit north across the Drake Passage.

As your journey draws to a close, take some time to reflect on the experiences of the past few weeks. Perhaps you’d like to organise your photos, jot some more notes in your journal or simply relax and soak up the ambiance on board as you farewell your travel mates . . . until next time!

Day 34 Ushuaia, Argentina


During the early morning, cruise up the Beagle Channel, before quietly slipping into dock in Ushuaia, where you will be free to disembark around 8.00 am. Farewell your expedition team and fellow passengers as we all continue our onward journeys, hopefully with a newfound sense of the immense power of nature.

To book this voyage call 1300 784 794 or email contact@antarcticatravelcentre.com.au

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.


To make the most of your time in South America we can tailor a holiday to Patagonia to suit your voyage dates. If you have a bit more time we can create a tailor-made itinerary to some of the highlights of South America. Take a look at the Patagonia sample itineraries below and contact us to begin creating your perfect holiday.