|Days 1 & 2||Invercargill||Briefing and Dinner, Southland Museum, Board the Spirit of Enderby|
|Day 3||The Snares- North East Island||Snares Crested Penguin, Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbirds|
|Days 4 & 5||Auckland Islands||Enderby Island & Carnley Harbour|
|Day 6||At Sea||Keep an eye on Sea Birds|
|Days 7 & 8||Macquarie Island||See the Royal Penguin, along with King, Gentoo and Rock Hopper Penguins & Elephant Seals|
|Days 9-12||At Sea||Look for cetaceans, albatross & petrels|
|Days 13-22||Antarctica’s Ross Sea Region||View incredible scenery, an abundance of wildlife and breathtaking icebergs|
|Day 23-26||At Sea||Rest & Enjoy shipboard life after a busy time in Antarctica|
|Days 27-28||Campbell Island||Perseverance Harbour|
|Day 29||At Sea||Look back on your incredible journey during your last day at Sea|
|Day 30||Invercargill||Disembark the Spirit of Enderby|
The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for expedition travel. She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2013 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space. On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room.
Meet this evening for an informal get-together at the hotel for dinner and meet fellow adventurers on your voyage and some of the expedition team before your birding adventure begins. The following morning visit the Southland Museum to view the special Subantarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff where you will embark on the Spirit of Enderby for the Birding Down Under voyage.
Cruise by Zodiac if weather and sea conditions are suitable along the sheltered eastern side of North East Island. You should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbirds. Also you should 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.
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.
These islands have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by and harbour 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 among the tussocks above the colony.
Expect some of the best pelagic birding on this leg of the journey from the Auckland Islands to Macquarie Island with great views of species such as the Royal Albatrosses, Wandering Albatrosses, Shy Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, diving-petrel, Little Shearwaters, storm-petrel and to confuse everybody, numerous prion species.
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 also 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.
Keep a keen lookout for cetaceans, albatross and petrels today, relax in the ship’s bar or catch up on your reading in the library.
With unpredictable ice and weather conditions, a day-by-day itinerary is not possible but the daily conditions are assessed and every possible opportunity is taken to make landings and to launch the Zodiacs. You can anticipate wildlife viewing, visits to scientific bases and historic sites, as well as the spectacular white and blue scenery.
The following areas are possible landings:
Cape Adare: A large flat spit of land, teeming with the staggering sight of Antarctica’s largest Adelie Penguin rookery: a tumult of chattering, feeding chicks; territorial disputes; petty pilfering and courtship displays. Curious penguins often come very close, offering superb photographic opportunities. Among the shifting mass of penguins you will find Carsten Borchgrevink’s Hut, the oldest in Antarctica, an overwintering shelter for the first expedition to the Antarctic continent in 1899.
Cape Hallett: The enormous Admiralty Range heralds your arrival; wild and extraordinary, the mountains rear up from the sea to over 4,000m, bounded by colossal glaciers. Land at an abandoned base site, now home to large numbers of Adelie Penguins and Weddell Seals.
Franklin Island: Desolately beautiful and rugged, this is home to a large Adelie Penguin population and other nesting seabirds. Attempt a landing and explore the coastline.
Possession Islands: Rarely-visited, small and rugged, these rocks support tens of thousands of penguins. Observe the birds’ busy and humorous activity, with the Admiralty Mountains forming a superb backdrop across the water.
Ross Ice Shelf: The world’s largest body of floating ice and a natural barrier, at times creating hazardous weather, with sheets of snow blown at gale force by winds off the polar ice cap. Being only 1285 kilometres from the South Pole, this daunting spectacle prevented many early explorers from venturing further south. Cruise along its dizzying 30m high ice cliffs, perhaps lucky enough to see icebergs ‘calving’.
Ross Island: Mount Erebus/Cape Bird/Shackleton’s Hut/Scott’s Hut(s) and visits to a scientific field station (Scott and McMurdo Stations are high on the wish list but ice, weather and station operational requirements often make them inaccessible). Ross Island was and is the ‘hub of activity’ in the Ross Sea, dominated by Mt Erebus, a monstrous active volcano named after the ancient Greek God of Darkness. The carefully preserved huts of the ‘Heroic Era’ help make the history come alive. If you can reach the bases we get a modern perspective on Antarctic Research.
Terra Nova Bay: An Italian research station where the scientists are always hospitable and enjoy showing us around their lonely but beautiful home. They share with us their scientific research and also, perhaps, the best ‘cafe espresso’ in Antarctica!
Take time to rest and enjoy shipboard life in the bar or library after the excitement and long daylight hours of the Antarctic. There is ample time for lectures on the way to your final destination and for some pelagic bird spotting.
Drop anchor in Perseverance Harbour. Once on shore walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross or to Northwest Bay, passing 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.
Relax and reflect on a remarkable journey as you join the experts for a recap of highlights and enjoy a farewell dinner tonight.
Disembark in the Port of Bluff as this adventure ends as you disperse to begin others. After fond farewells transfer to a central city point or to the airport.