SUBANTARCTIC DISCOVERY

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19 DAYS

Perched on the Antarctic Convergence, Australia and New Zealand’s subantarctic islands are home to some of the most abundant and unique wildlife on Earth. From Hobart, explore Tasmania’s south coast, from dramatic coastlines on Bruny Island to gannet rookeries and fur seal haulouts on Pedra Branca, and wilderness treks in Recherche Bay and New Harbour. Delight in World Heritage-listed Macquarie Island, home to a tumble of elephant seal pups, leopard seals, the endemic royal penguin and king penguin rookeries more than a quarter million strong. Crossing to New Zealand, marvel at the courtship displays of magnificent royal albatross on Campbell Island, and sea lions, yellow-eyed and rockhopper penguins on Enderby. Zodiac-cruise the Snares’ labyrinth channels to spy magnificent tree daisies and Snares crested penguins. Enjoy a warm welcome from Stewart Island locals and visit nearby Ulva Island, a sanctuary for plants and animals including South Island Saddlebacks and kiwis. Then immerse yourself in the magnificent Fjordland as you explore Dusky and Doubtful Sounds.

ITINERARY SUMMARY
DayPlaceHighlights
Day 1Hobart, AustraliaArrive in Hobart where you will be met and transferred to your hotel Crowne Plaza Hobart
Day 2Embarkation HobartEmbark on your cruise to the subantarctic islands
Day 3-4Bruny Island, Recherche BayEnjoy coastal walks at Cloudy Bay and Recherche Bay
Day 5New Harbour, Maatsuyker IslandsExplore the famed South Coast track or a walk up Cox Bluff
Day 6-8At SeaEnjoy the onboard activities such as lectures from the expedition staff.
Days 9-10Macquarie IslandExplore the only island in the world composed entirely of oceanic crust. Full of wildlife and natural beauty
Day 11At SeaRelax on board the ship
Day 12Campbell IslandVisit the most southerly of the subantartic islands. A great spirit for bird watchers and flora lovers
Days 13-14Auckland IslandsVisit Enderby, Victoria Passage and Carnley Harbour
Day 15The SnaresKeep an eye our for Shearwaters, petrels and penguins on the Snares
Day 16Steward Island, Ulva IslandVisit Ulva island, a predator-free pristine forested sanctuary
Days 17-18FiordlandExplore the sounds of Fiordland, home to dolphins and whales
Day 19Buff, New ZealandAfter breakfast disembark. Transfer to your hotel or the airport

SHIP OFFERING THIS ITINERARY

GREG MORTIMER
Greg Mortimer

The Greg Mortimer commenced her first season in November 2019, she is purpose built, polar expedition vessel designed in close consultation with Antarctic expedition specialists and is the first expedition cruise ship designed with the ULSTEIN X-BOW hull. This cutting edge nautical technology allows for gentle travel and motion at sea, improved comfort and safety on-board, reduced vibrations, lower fuel consumption, lower air emissions and virtual anchoring which means the ship can float anchor-less while launching the Zodiacs without disturbing delicate sea floor areas. There are four sea-level launching platforms for fast and efficient access to and from Zodiacs.

Up to 132 guests will be accommodated in staterooms all with en-suite facilities. The ship has custom-built hydraulic platforms offering guests unobstructed views, a dedicated activity platform and an indoor observation lounge with unobstructed panoramic views. The outdoor top deck allows for 360 degree views. The Greg Mortimer will set a new level in luxury and expedition cruising focusing on multiple landings, flexible itineraries and environmental sensitivity.

Day 1 Hobart, Tasmania

Hobart Fiona - from Mt Wellington
Overview:

Arrive in Hobart where you will be met and transferred to your hotel the Crowne Plaza Hobart. In the evening enjoy light refreshments with your fellow expeditioners and the pre-embarkation briefing. Afterward you have time at leisure to enjoy one of Hobarts many wonderful restaurants for dinner. (Dinner not include in the voyage cost).

Day 2 Embarkation Hobart

After breakfast enjoy a city tour (approx 2 hours) giving you insight into this historical city. In the afternoon you’re welcomed aboard the Greg Mortimer and shown your cabin before mandatory safety drills are carried out. Enjoy a welcome drink with your fellow travellers at the cruise briefing this evening. Leaving Hobart, cruise past the impressive cliffs of Cape Pillar and Tasman Island’s dramatic dolerite columns rising from the sea.

Day 3-4 Bruny Island, Recherche Bay

Maria Island, Tasmania

From the comfort of your floating base camp, make your first forays to the picturesque Cloudy Bay at Bruny Island. Enjoy picturesque coastal walks through flowering heathlands and eucalypt forests, a more leisurely stroll on long stretches of pristine sand, or a more active tramp up the headland for sweeping views of the bay and beyond to the Southern Ranges. Weather permitting, we hope to sail our ship past the tiny, windswept islet of Pedra Branca – and its busy shy albatross and Australasian gannet colonies – in evening light.

Near the extreme south-eastern corner of Tasmania, the idyll of Recherche Bay offered French explorer, Bruni D’Entrecasteaux, refuge, replenishment, and scientific discovery. Learn more about his exploits, including the well-documented, amicable encounters and mutual observation between the expedition members and the indigenous Lylequonny people. Enjoy a hike towards the extreme southern tip of Tasmania or towards Fishers Point past the impressive bronze whale sculpture that commemorates the area’s early whaling history.

Day 5 New Harbour, Maatsuyker Islands

Having rounded South East Cape, experience untamed wilderness of Southwest National Park from the shores of New Harbour with various walking and Zodiac-cruising options. Perhaps explore a short section of the famed South Coast track, enjoy a stiff walk up Cox Bluff, or simply revel in the isolation and wildness of these remote and windswept shores.

From the comfort of the ‘mother ship’, enjoy a ship cruise at the Maatsuyker Island Group in the evening. Spy Australia’s most southerly lighthouse at Maatsuyker Island, and delight in the majesty of soaring shy albatross in the skies. If conditions allow, Zodiac-cruise near Mewstone Island, first sighted and named by the Dutch navigator Abel Janzoon Tasman in 1642 who wrote that it “resembles a lion”. Today it holds nesting colonies of shy albatross, fur seals and possibly southern elephant seals.

Days 6-8 At Sea

Long Finned Pilot Whales

Enjoy exciting days at sea, with entertaining talks on exploration and natural history. Spend time on deck photographing seabirds and relishing the sight of wandering and royal albatross in full, soaring flight.

Days 9-10 Macquarie Island

Royal Penguins and Southern Elephant Seals Macquarie Island

This subantarctic jewel supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Ocean. Millions of penguins of four different species – king, rockhopper, gentoo and the endemic royal – breed here. Upon arrival, we hope to land at Sandy Bay where a boardwalk leads up to a royal penguin rookery teeming with showy birds displaying their golden head feathers. At the shore are stately king penguins and chicks, and above fly black-browed and light-mantled sooty albatross. Fur and elephant seals hide amongst thick tussocks that have come back to life, thanks to a successful pest-eradication program. The following day, we plan to Zodiac-cruise Lusitania Bay. The king penguin rookery here is a quarter of a million strong, noisy and spectacular. A welcoming committee will likely porpoise around our Zodiacs, and leopard seals often patrol the waters.

Day 11 At Sea

Bird at Sea

Catch your breath as we turn toward New Zealand’s subantarctic islands. Step out on deck to photograph Campbell, Salvins and white-capped albatross, seen in few other regions.

Day 12 Campbell Island (Motu Ihupuku)

Southern Royal Albratross

New Zealand’s most southerly subantarctic island is the highly eroded remnant of an ancient volcano that rises to 570 metres and cops some rough weather – gusts over 50 knots (96 kph) occur at least 100 days a year. After breakfast, Zodiac cruise protected Northeast Harbour to photograph waterfalls, yellow-eyed penguins and possibly the reintroduced endemic Campbell Island snipe. After lunch, land at the seasonal research station in Perseverance Harbour and hike up a boardwalk through flowering megaherb meadows to breeding southern royal albatross. Sit quietly and watch as they unfurl their three-metre wingspan, clack their beaks and issue their unforgettable, mournful cries.

Days 13-14 Auckland Islands: Enderby, Victoria Passage, Carnley Harbour

Yellow Eyed Penguins, Enderby

First discovered in 1806 by British whaler Abraham Bristow, these remote specks of land in the Southern Ocean are a refuge for thousands of birds and sea lions. Depending on weather and sea conditions, Enderby Island, the most northern in the Auckland Islands, is our first landing. Hop aboard a Zodiac to cruise into Sandy Bay, land near a researcher’s hut, and be greeted by raucous New Zealand (Hooker’s) sea lions, the world’s rarest and most endangered of the five sea lion species. It’s breeding season, as 500-kilogram adult males fight for the favour of females, who form harems of up to 25 attended by a single dominant bull. Keep an eye out for newborn pups. Enter a forest fit for hobbits, walking among twisted trunks of southern rata trees. Stretch your legs on a hike across the island’s megaherb moors, spotting yellow-eyed penguins, light-mantled sooty albatross and royal albatross with a wingspan of nearly 3.5 metres. Our second day begins with an exciting Zodiac cruise through Victoria Passage, a lively channel separating Adams Island from Auckland Island (Motu Maha), and finishes with a walk into Erlangen Clearing, to hear of a German merchant ship that scavenged timber for its boilers hoping to escape to South America during World War II. After lunch, visit Carnley Harbour for superb Zodiac-cruising, and walks through rata forests alive with birdsong to historic sites from early sealers and World War II coastwatchers.

Day 15 The Snares (Tini Heke)

Snares Crested Penguin

This small group of islands has no introduced mammals ­– the only such group in the Southern Ocean, making it a highly-protected and extraordinary haven for wildlife, especially seabirds. We Zodiac-cruise (no landings are allowed) protected waterways, binoculars and cameras ready for sightings of the endemic Snares crested penguins, Snares Island tomtit, fernbirds and many more. Early summer, the Buller’s albatross arrives to nest. Even the plants are magical, like the giant tree daisy that forms a canopy five metres high. In the evening, hundreds of thousands of sooty shearwaters fill the sky as they return to their burrows for the night.

Day 16 Stewart Island (Rakiura), Ulva Island

Ulva Island- Kiwi Bird

Sail overnight to reach Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third largest island. Anchoring in Half Moon Bay, we visit laid-back Oban, the island’s only town and land on Ulva Island, one of the few pest-free, open sanctuaries in the country. The island offers threatened native species a safe haven including kiwis, wekas, colourful parakeets and South Island saddlebacks.

Day 17-19 Fiordland and Buff, New Zealand

Milford Sound

Packed into the western third of Southland, is Fiordland, a spectacular region where the Southern Alps reach the sea in a series of steep-sided, glacier-carved and now flooded valleys called ‘sounds’. Explore the largest, Dusky Sound, its waterways home to pods of dolphins and whales, and Doubtful Sound, nicknamed the ‘Sound of Silence’, renowned for its stunning waterfalls, like 619-metre-high Browne Falls, bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins. In the evening celebrate your final night with the Captain’s Farewell dinner as we head to our last port.

After breakfast on Day 19, farewell your expedition team and disembark to be transferred to the airport or your hotel accommodation.

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

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.