This is without doubt one of the most inspirational and informative journeys or expeditions into the Southern Ocean ecosystem that one can make anywhere in the world. Long recognised for their rich biodiversity, the Subantarctic Islands lying to the south of New Zealand are UNESCO World Heritage sites. This places them in a select group of only 180 natural sites that have been designated as ‘the most important and significant natural habitats' on the planet. They are also afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments and access to these islands is by permit only. On this expedition we offer you the unique chance to explore, photograph and understand these wonderful places in the company of some of the most knowledgeable and passionate guides.
As a young biologist, Heritage Expeditions founder Rodney Russ first visited these islands in 1972 with the New Zealand Wildlife Service. He organised New Zealand's first commercial expedition there in 1989 and it was only natural that his family should travel with him, what wasn't predicted was that they would join him in the business and be as passionate about the conservation of this region as he is. Now, many years and over 100 expeditions later, Rodney's sons Aaron and Nathan continue their father's enthusiasm and legacy for this region with Heritage Expeditions. As the original concessionaire we enjoy good relationships with the conservation departments and some of the access permits we hold are unique to these expeditions.
The name we have given to this voyage ‘Galapagos of the Southern Ocean' reflects the astounding natural biodiversity and the importance of these islands as a wildlife refuge. (The book Galapagos of the Antarctic written by Rodney Russ and Aleks Terauds and published by Heritage Expeditions describes all of these islands in great detail.) The islands all lie in the cool temperate zone with a unique climate and are home to a vast array of wildlife including albatross, penguins, petrels, prions, shearwaters and marine mammals like sea lions, fur seals and elephant seals. The flora is equally fascinating; the majority of it being like the birds and endemic to these islands.
This renowned expedition includes four of the Subantarctic Islands, The Snares, Auckland, Macquarie and Campbell. Each one is different, and each one is unique - just like this expedition.
Pre/Post cruise transfers, one night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (incl. dinner/breakfast), all on board ship accommodation, meals and all expedition shore excursions.
All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.
Our ship - 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 recently updated combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room (March 2018). The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.
The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.
The name Spirit of Enderby honours the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.
Classification: Russian register KM ice class
Year built: 1984
Accommodation: 50 berths expedition
Main engines: power 2x1560 bhp (2x 1147 Kw)
Maximum speed: 12 knots (2 engines),
Cruising speed: 10 knots(one engine)
Bunker capacity: 320 tons
11 December 2014
Port of Bluff, New Zealand
46° 35’ 9 S 168° 20’ 5 E
Forty seven keen passengers boarded the Spirit of Enderby in the afternoon at New Zealand’s southern most port Bluff. After familiarising ourselves with the ship, clearing customs and completing safety and ship briefings we departed Bluff in uncharacteristic light easterly wind conditions. These conditions had the local birdlife confused with very few to be seen in the first few hours, but before long we had our first Black Brow and Bullers Albatross, complemented with a growing number of Sooty Shearwaters, Cape Pigeons and Prions.
With conditions suitable for a trip down the west coast of Stewart Island, we were treated to magnificent views of Masons Bay and Cod Fish Island which is home to New Zealand’s endangered Kakapo. The chefs started the trip with an excellent dinner which everyone enjoyed in calm conditions.
12 December 2014
48° 01’ 9 S 166° 37’ 5 E
Dawn greeted the Spirit of Enderby on station in the lee of the Snares Islands. Thousands of Sooty Shearwaters were departing the island for their days fishing with an urgency that only parents expecting hatchlings can have.
After an early 0630 breakfast we had a short Zodiac briefing before loading the Zodiacs and heading in to discover the joys of the Snares in pretty calm conditions.
Excellent views of early Bullers Albatross pairs, Sooty Shearwaters and Snares Erect- crested Penguins were obtained close up to the Zodiacs. In the more sheltered bays there were views of Tom Tits and occasionally the elusive Fern Bird. A small group in Rodney’s boat sighted the rare Snares Snipe. Most of the headlands had New Zealand Fur Seals hauled out and we were witness to a great sparing match between adolescent Hooker’s Sea Lions. At the penguin slide further to the north of the island we witnessed the great feats of dexterity as the Snares Erect-crested Penguins in their hundreds exited and entered the water.
After an excellent morning at the Snares Islands we departed for Auckland Island accompanied by the usual host of birdlife including a few Salvin’s Albatross which nest on the western chain of the Snares.
13 December 2014
Enderby Island, Auckland Islands
50° 31’ 4 S 166° 15’ 3 E
After a rough night the Spirit of Enderby anchored in the calm waters of Port Ross at the Auckland Islands. A hearty breakfast was enjoyed before we were briefed on the landing and plan for the day. By 0930 we had begun loading the Zodiacs in a stiff south west breeze and enjoyed our first landing in the Subantarctic Islands. Within minutes of landing we had experienced the extreme contrasts of the heated aggression of Hooker’s Sea Lions preparing for the breeding season and the serene solitary existence of the Yellow Eyed Penguin. On the boardwalk over to the wild-west side of the island we sighted the stately Southern Royal Albatross who had commenced nesting and the territorial behaviour of Banded Dotterel defending their nests. The mega herb Bulbunella rossii was in full bloom on the western side of the island so as not to be outdone by the more diminutive Gentions. We enjoyed several glimpses of the Auckland Island Snipe in the vegetated depressions of the western coast as well as a great view of Light Mantled Sooty Albatross which were nesting in the cliffs there. Martin led the party doing the short walk back across the island with opportunities to stop and savor the delights of Enderby Island at a more leisurely pace.
The party embarking on the round trip of the island found a delightful lunch spot just past Derry Castle Reef on the edge of the Rata forest. Further on we had a chance to enter the forest and experience the surreal ‘Hobbit-like’ environment which was home to Tom Tits and Bellbirds. On the final stretch along Sandy Bay Beach we got to see the beginnings of the Sea Lion season with three pups in evidence and a couple of harems starting to form, with all the associated fighting and posturing of the males. After a glorious day ashore we were treated to a fine dinner and a well-deserved sleep back aboard the Spirit of Enderby.
14 December 2014
Carnley Harbour, Auckland Islands
50° 48’ 8 S 166° 04’ 6 E
After an excellent nights sleep in the calm of Port Ross, the Spirit of Enderby motored down the east coast of Auckland Island and arrived at the head of Carnley Harbour at around 0615. We were greeted by overcast skies and calm conditions as the ship dropped anchor in Tagua Bay, home to the old New Zealand government coast watching station during World War II.
After a short Zodiac ride ashore in flat conditions we assembled on the beach and got ready to commence the short climb to the coast watching station huts. A young male Sea Lion had other ideas and had to be gently persuaded by Rodney and Don to let us pass. After a short walk we arrived at the remains of the accommodation huts which are in near collapse. Some of the great names in New Zealand nature conservation were resident here during wartime coast watching operations and it is their research that formed the base line for subsequent scientific investigation of the natural history of these Islands. Another short climb and we were able to view the observation buildings which had to be manned from dawn to dusk throughout the duration of the war. However, no enemy ships were ever sighted from this station.
Back aboard the Spirit of Enderby we enjoyed a fine lunch before commencing our journey south towards Macquarie Island.
15 December 2014
En-route to Macquarie Island
53° 01’ 9 S 162° 01’ 0 E
After the excitement of our landings in the Auckland Islands it was good to spend a day at sea and enjoy the luxury of a sleep in. The pelagic birding remained good with plenty of Gibson’s Wandering Albatross, Storm Petrels and Prions.
We attended a most insightful lecture on Hooker’s Sea Lions by Martin whose experience with these fascinating creatures is second to none. After lunch we enjoyed a talk on Cultural Landscape Change by Matt which brought together much of the history we had experienced on our landings so far. By 2100 we were approaching Macquarie Island and had the unusual experience of seeing another ship in these waters. It was the Royal New Zealand Navy Frigate Wellington no less, on an inspection of the Subantarctic Islands. We were blessed with a relatively quiet night in the lee of Buckles bay.
16 December 2014
Buckles Bay/Sandy Bay Macquarie Island
54° 30’ 3 S 158° 56’ 9 E
An early morning swap over of Macquarie Island staff was completed in foggy calm conditions at Buckles Bay near the ANARE station. With the rangers aboard we were given briefings on our landing at Sandy Bay by while the Spirit of Enderby moved anchorage.
The landing was completed in near flat conditions and a spectacular morning was had wandering amongst the Royal Penguins, King Penguins and the lounging Elephant Seals. With many weaners on the beach we anticipated seeing Orca who were reportedly patrolling the area but to no avail. The look out at the end of the boardwalk offered spectacular views of the Royal Penguin rookery which was at full capacity and very noisy with many chicks apparent.
After a short trip back to the ship for a late lunch we steamed back up to Buckles Bay and prepared to go ashore to look at the ANARE base. The fog had rolled in so we were surprised when we arrived at the beach to see a wedding party turned out to welcome the returning former base leader Jeremy Smith. After a short tour of the base facilities we were invited into the mess for the world famous scone and cup of tea. We got to experience the warm hospitality of the base which is arguably one of the more remote of Australia’s bases and a keen few also got to sample some of the ginger beers and stouts produced by the island’s boutique brewery.
Outside the birders were able to catch a glimpse of a lone Adelie Penguin which had arrived at the island as a vagrant and also to view the small group of Rock Hopper Penguins on the return journey by Zodiac to the ship. A late dinner and a well deserved rest awaited us back aboard the Spirit of Enderby.
17 December 2014
Off Macquarie Island
54° 37’ 0 S 158° 57’ 5 E
We awoke to thick fog and a building northerly wind which precluded any attempts at landing or seeing the sights of Lusitania Bay. As we had wisely already boarded the returning Macquarie Island staff we decided to set a course for Campbell Island. Fog remained with us for much of the day which meant bird watching was severely restricted, so we were treated to a documentary on the history of Macquarie Island and an interesting talk by Jeremy Smith who was station leader at Macquarie in the 2010 season, at the beginning of the rabbit eradication programme.
18 December 2014
En route to Campbell Island
53° 35’ 5 S 164° 24’ 2 E
The ship made good time over night towards Campbell Island and the rolly northerly swell began to ease back to the northwest, making conditions more comfortable as the day wore on.
We enjoyed a full programme of lectures beginning with Heather’s fascinating insight into the Albatross species of the Southern Ocean. This was followed by Don’s talk on his experiences of living at Cape Dennison, East Antarctica for a year. His descriptions of the majesty and the fear of experience a whole seasonal cycle in Antarctica was a feat very few have achieved.
After a delicious lunch we heard from Matt who gave us insights into the wind, waves and weather of the Southern Ocean. By evening we were experiencing that rare condition in the Southern Ocean of calm. Rodney introduced us to Campbell Island in his lecture which had us all keenly anticipating a big day ashore tomorrow. After dinner we experienced some great birding from the decks before retiring for a good sleep.
19 December 2014
52° 32’ 9 S 169° 09’ 5 E
The Spirit of Enderby reached the calm waters of Perseverance Harbour at 0200 and we awoke to a light southeasterly breeze and overcast conditions. After a quick breakfast and briefing, 28 keen hikers shuttled ashore to begin the walk to northwest bay with Rodney and Don as guides. The wind conditions meant the usually wild west coast was relatively calm and the bird watching was up to its usual high standard with Royal Albatross at close range, along with Snipe and Teal on the lower reaches of Camp Cove.
The Col-Lyall group enjoyed a leisurely Zodiac cruise up to Garden Cove with a stop at Camp Cove to visit the ‘loneliest tree in the world’. The tree was guarded by a lone male Hooker’s Sea Lion which Martin managed to subdue and made us think of a boy and his dog! A further stop in Tucker Cove at the old farm homestead site along with its resident Giant Petrel population was enjoyed before a cut lunch and rest back aboard the Spirit of Enderby.
The afternoon expedition up to the Col-Lyall saddle was rewarded with excellent views of the Southern Royal Albatross nesting, gamming and swooping overhead. By 1700 the Northwest Bay walkers had arrived at Camp Cove where Matt forfeited his wages by forgetting the lifejacket bin on the Zodiac pick up!
By 1800 everyone was back aboard the ship and enjoying the pleasure of a hot shower and a fine meal. This was followed by a sound nights sleep.
20 December 2014
52° 33’ 0 S 169° 09’ 6 E
A brilliant morning on Enderby Island was greeted by the hardy souls who had volunteered for the Mt Honey walk. After a quick briefing at breakfast and the production of one of Rodney’s hand drawn maps, the party was shuttled to Garden Cove over a glassy calm Perseverance Harbour. It soon became apparent that Rodney’s comment “muddy in spots” was very much an understatement! Once the bush line had been gained it was slog to the top of the 557m mountain. The herb fields, Snipe spotting and Royal Albatross nests were impressive as was the view from the top which happily coincided with the clearing of the early morning cloud that had shrouded the peak.
While this expedition was taking place Rodney lead a group on a Zodiac cruise of the upper reaches of Perseverance Harbour, while others elected to walk the board walk to the Col–Lyall saddle. A select few of the Mt Honey walkers decided to cap the morning off with a swim from the ship followed by a sauna. Martin also went for a swim at the Campbell Island wharf, but instead of a sauna he basked in the warm humour of his peers!
By 1200 we were all back aboard the Spirit of Enderby enjoying a delicious lunch before taking in the abundant bird life along the northeastern coast of Campbell Island. Grey headed, Campbell Black Brow and Southern Royal Albatross were in abundance as we headed north in calm conditions.
A relaxed afternoon was had watching documentaries on the Campbell Island rat eradication and the reintroduction of the Campbell Island Teal before yet another fabulous dinner prepared by Cy and Conner.
21 December 2014
En route to Bluff
48° 53’ 1 S 168° 40’ 0 E
A calm night at sea and a late breakfast saw a well-rested group greet our last full day of the voyage. A light westerly breeze sprang up as we crossed on to the continental shelf south of Stewart Island and we were rewarded with an increase in birds following the ship.
For those interested in birds of the extinct kind, Martin gave a wonderful talk on the Auckland Island Merganser which was last reported on the island in 1902. He followed this up with a documentary on the search for treasure on the infamous Auckland Island wreck of the General Grant. A much younger Martin starred in the section on Sandy Bay and the resident Hooker’s Sea Lion colony.
Just before another delicious lunch Rodney presented us with an introduction to the Russian Far East which the Spirit of Enderby explores in the northern hemisphere summer. This destination looks equally as enthralling as the Subantarctic and sparked a keen interest in many of us.
By mid afternoon the outline of Stewart Island was in view from the bridge. Rodney took us through some of the great experiences we have had in an expedition recap which was followed by a slide show prepared by Heather and Doug of our adventures on the voyage.
Just before dinner the ship came to anchor in the calm lee of the east coast of Stewart Island and the Mutton Bird Islands of Foveaux Straight. Cy and Conner prepared a sumptuous banquet for our final dinner which was enjoyed by all.
At 0500 the next morning the Spirit of Enderby headed for the pilot station at the port of Bluff where we arrived alongside at 0730. We bid our farewells to our newfound friends and departed with some special memories of the Subantarctic and the Southern Ocean.
Click here for this voyage's species list
Written by Lecturer and Guide, Marcus Richards
Expeditioners arrived at the Kelvin Hotel, Invercargill and met for the first time over dinner. The programme for embarkation day was explained and we all adjourned to make final preparations to board the Spirit of Enderby.
Everyone boarded the ship at 1400 today in fine weather at Bluff. After a few formalities we sailed at 1600. Everyone was bristling with excitement and anticipation for the adventures to come as we took part in the lifeboat drill off Stewart Island. Drinks were held in the bar prior to dinner and everyone was in high spirits as we celebrated the end of a year and the promise of a new one. A fine New Year’s Eve buffet dinner was served by chefs Bruce Thomason and Michael Harris, which included a birthday celebration for one of our guests, Robert Ippolito. Today we enjoyed seeing our first Mollymawks of the voyage and sharp eyes kept a lookout for the larger albatrosses, without much success.
Today was made especially exciting when the Ship Doctor, John Moodie, reminded Expedition Leader Rodney Russ of the fact that we may be in the same spot as the Grafton at midnight the 3rd of January, exactly 150 years after she was shipwrecked in 1864 on the southern side of Auckland Island. Hopefully we will get to enjoy this significant occasion without sharing a similar fate!
Zodiac Cruising at The Snares Photo Credit: ABreniere
On the cusp of a new year we arrived off the Snares Islands. These majestic islands were a fitting start to our journey exploring the Subantarctic. We searched for the most sheltered side of the island group and settled on the eastern side of the main island. There we launched the Zodiacs for a cruise around some sheltered bays. We were delighted to see Snares Crested Penguins porpoising in water as well as hopping around on the granitic shore platforms. Snares Island Fernbird and Tomtit were spotted onshore amongst the beautiful Tree Daisy forest. The Antarctic Terns were especially entertaining as they displayed and interacted with juveniles. New Zealand Fur Seals lounged on rocks enjoying the sunny weather.
Dolphins were seen from the ship later that afternoon as we continued our voyage and Rodney gave a talk on the upcoming Auckland Islands, which is the next port of call.
We awoke to find ourselves in Port Ross, which is surrounded on all sides by stunning volcanic hills and islands. The decision was made to land on Enderby Island where we were greeted by numerous Hooker’s Sea Lions and multiple Yellow-eyed Penguins amongst the grassy hillocks above the shoreline. The weather was changeable but when the sun came out the vistas were astounding. We all traversed the island by boardwalk and got our first opportunity on the trip to get up close to a nesting Southern Royal Albatross just by the track. Some walked back by the same route to the beach while the majority went for a hike around the coast, going clockwise around the island until they reached the beach again. Auckland Island Snipe and Teal were seen by many of the people encircling the island. In summary, the birdlife was enchanting: Yellow-eyed Penguins, Pipits, Tomtits and Red-crowned Parakeets. The mega-herb fields and mystical Rata forest were also highlights of the walk. Seed heads were an amusing and frustrating problem on the island, as they readily stuck to clothing and equipment. Grouchy Sea Lions tried to bully some of the walkers, but fortunately these creatures were all bark and no bite. Scars on some of the older males told the story of many battles however that had been fought over female harems on the beach. Sadly Samuel and Katya noted the decrease in Sea Lion pup numbers compared with previous years. We dined that evening in the tranquil waters of Port Ross, which was affectionately known as ‘Sarah’s Bosom’ by early explorers of the region due to its sheltered waters in the Furious Fifties of the Southern Ocean. Photo Credit: ABreniere
We departed from Port Ross overnight and had entered Carnley Harbour by the early morning. Fortunately for us we enjoyed beautifully calm waters, so it was very different to the howling NW winds that wrecked the Grafton 150 years earlier to the day. We visited the wreck of the Grafton at Epigwatt, which consisted of a few remains of the ship’s timber on the pebbled beach. Snooping around in the bush adjacent to the wreck revealed the remains of the living quarters constructed by Captain Musgrave and his four crewmen for habitation for an eighteen-month period! Today the hut simply resembles a boulder pile that is being progressively overgrown by stinging nettles.
We Zodiac cruised around the North Arm of Carnley Harbour, passing a pointer sign from the castaway depot era of the late 19th and early 20th century. The hillsides rising up on the either side had distinct ridges of exposed walls of rock. We were seeing cross-sections of lava flows that progressively built up the shield volcano that was active in the late Miocene, centered on the middle of Carnley Harbour. Most of the islands in the region are volcanic in origin.
The site cleared by the crew of steamer Erlangen in 1939 for fuel was also visited. While some people stayed on the beach for the scenery and bird watching, the majority went into the regenerated Rata forest to look for old stumps of the ‘iron wood’ that tell of the impressive feat carried out by a desperate crew in their attempt to cross the Pacific and reach neutral waters in South America. Marcus was on the beach fossicking around for geologically interesting rock samples for his planned future research on the Subantarctic’s volcanic islands. One passenger, George Gornacz, gallantly stayed behind at this site to fill the role of Coastwatcher. That is, he got a bit sidetracked in the bush and didn’t realize that the Zodiacs were leaving. However he was promptly relieved of his duties once Agnes realized he was missing and sent Rodney back to pick him up!
Auckland Island Shags and eloquent Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses flew around the harbour almost continuously while we were there and provided a truly marvelous sight. We finished the Zodiac trip with a brief cruise around Figure Eight Island to see the small resident Sea Lion colony and sailed away from the Auckland Islands in early afternoon. Later in the day Marcus gave a lecture on the geology and biogeography of the Subantarctic Islands.
Today was a very pleasant day at sea as we crossed the Emerald Basin, heading for Australian waters. The calm seas made it a perfect day for whale watching and there were multiple sightings in the afternoon. Some small groups of Fin Whales were seen at a distance and three Strap-toothed Beaked Whales were seen in quick succession as well, much to the delight of those who were lucky enough to see them.
Lectures were given during the day by Samuel, Katya and Rodney on the topics of pelagic seabirds, cetaceans and Macquarie Island respectively.
We sighted an Orca in the morning as we arrived at Macquarie Island in calm weather conditions. After collecting the Australian rangers from the ANARE base we headed for Sandy Bay.
Sandy Bay contains King and Royal Penguin breeding colonies. To the delight of everyone, these birds were often fearless, coming up to us full of curiosity and sometimes just keen to get past us as they made for their preferred sites along the beach. Some King Penguins would approach the equipment we kept in a pile on the beach, having a cheeky peck to aid their investigations. The gigantic Southern Elephant Seals strewn across the beach were amusing to watch. They squabbled amongst themselves, lay side by side and on top of each other in large piles and also made loud comical noises as they blew through their nostrils. They also had the uncanny ability to scratch their heads with their flippers in a remarkably anthropomorphic manner. The youngest weaned juveniles were also incredibly cute, with expressive faces and big round eyes.
We returned to ship for lunch and those keen for more headed back to the beach for the afternoon, which proved to be just as good. We met some hunters who search the island for signs of any pests that may have survived the eradication operation of the three previous years, including Leona from Marlborough with two specially trained rodent dogs.
The rangers spent the night on the ship and we were also joined for dinner on board by a group of ‘Macca’ staff who were on a survival training course in the area. No doubt they found our cuisine far more appealing than their survival rations!
The weather was mild for Macquarie Island once again today. We took a Zodiac cruise at Lusitania Bay, location of the island’s largest King Penguin colony of over 100,000 birds. The rusting, decrepit digesters amongst the penguins on the beach served as echo of an older time when penguins were killed and processed for their oil. Fortunately the island is now a World Heritage Site and the wildlife is doing much better. Multiple white morph Southern Giant Petrels were hanging around to the delight of the passengers. Before heading to the ANARE station for the remainder of the morning and early afternoon we had a quick briefing from Rodney and rangers Chris and Keith. Onshore the weather was sunny at times and generally pleasant for this part of the world. We saw many Elephant Seals and Gentoo Penguins on the beach and witnessed the daily launching of a weather balloon from the metrological station. Visiting the mess of the ANARE base we met and were able to talk to more staff members on the island and had some delicious scones courtesy of their chefs. Our return to the ship detoured past the Rockhopper Penguin colony, noting the presence of a seal amongst the birds.
A documentary on the Macquarie Island pest eradication from the past few years narrated by Keith (one of the rangers we had met) was screened onboard and copies of the DVD were distributed. At dinner we celebrated Bob Parda’s birthday. Our stay at Macquarie had been an eventful one, which all onboard agreed they had been privileged to experience.
It was a fairly uneventful day at sea with the vessel only rolling moderately at times. Many of us spent time on deck watching the seabirds which gracefully and continuously circled the ship as we voyaged through open waters. Lectures were given by Samuel, Doctor John Moodie, Katya and Rodney on the topics of penguins, shipwrecks, pinnipeds and Campbell Island, respectively.
Photo Credit: ABreniere
We awoke to find ourselves in the calm waters of Perseverance Harbour. After a briefing by Rodney we split into two groups, one to go for a full day walk to Northwest Bay and back with him and the other to go firstly exploring the coves in the upper harbor by Zodiac and then on a walk to the Southern Royal Albatross colony on the Col Lyall saddle. The highlights of the Zodiac cruise included the old farming homestead site at Tucker Cove, the world’s loneliest tree (a Sitka Spruce) at Camp Cove and a cruise past Venus Cove, where the French expedition of 1874 attempted to see the transit of Venus.
The Northwest Bay crew saw Teal and Snipe, whilst the other group saw a beautiful Teal in the harbour whilst in the Zodiacs. (We could tell it was a male by the distinct green of the feathers on his head). Everyone of course saw the abundant Campbell Island Pipit. Campbell Island Shags and Hooker’s Sea Lions were seen hanging about the shores of the harbour. Some of the young male Sea Lions approached the Zodiacs and people on the beaches, being very inquisitive and bold creatures.
After the Zodiac cruise the group went back to the Spirit of Enderby for lunch, then was landed at the Metservice and Department of Conservation (DOC) huts below Beeman Hill for the walk up the boardwalk to the Col Lyall Saddle. We were blown away by the beautiful fields of mega-herbs which were in full flower. The view over the sheer cliff on the western side of the island showed us the effects of the prevailing weather conditions that slam the west coast of Campbell Island. The weather was good enough for us to be able to clearly see Dent Island, the last refuge for the Teal when rats used to plague the main island. However at the top of the boardwalk the biggest attraction by far was the Southern Royal Albatross colony. Some of the birds were minding their nest and others displayed with one another, which is called ‘gamming’. It resembles a courtship display between a bird pair, however the albatrosses display in groups of multiple birds. They call, spread their large wings and clack their bills in an impressive show, which was a delight to witness.
Marcus got some practice driving a Zodiac whilst transporting everyone back to the ship at the end of the day, where we enjoyed another delicious dinner prepared by Mike and Bruce, and served by our wonderful waitresses Natalia and Zoya.
Early in the morning some enthusiastic expeditioners set off for the summit of Mount Honey with Agnes and Katya. The hike was a success from a botanical perspective, however not the best in terms of sightseeing due to overhanging cloud at the summit. The remainder of the group enjoyed a Zodiac ride with Samuel and another opportunity to climb Col Lyall Saddle with Marcus. Those who went on the Col Lyall boardwalk had an amusing encounter with a stubborn Sea Lion that flatly refused to move off ‘his’ track and did his best to delay our passing around him on a big half circle detour through shrubs and mega-herbs. We all returned to the ship for lunch.
We hauled anchor and departed Campbell Island in the early afternoon in windy and patchy cloud conditions. As we exited the harbour we saw the enormous Campbell Mollymawk colony at North Cape by Bull Rock. There the sky was full of seabirds as we set a course for Bluff, on the New Zealand mainland. The seas by then were distinctively rougher than we had previously encountered on the expedition. We had been extremely lucky to enjoy calmer waters during all our island visits on this voyage, the bad weather only catching up with us near the end of our adventures.
This was a day of tying up loose ends and trying to remain unscathed as the ship rolled violently at times. The rocking and rolling died down somewhat in the afternoon and two short documentaries on Campbell Island rat eradication and the captive rearing programme for the Campbell Island Teal were shown. We celebrated our last night together with bar festivities and a magnificent buffet spread put on by the chefs. Later in the evening Rodney gave a recap of our voyage and we enjoyed a photo presentation of the trip compiled by Katya which included many beautiful photos taken by the expedition team. This was made available to everyone who wanted a copy to take home. Samuel also compiled the last day of our bird list in the bar. We all retired to our rooms and started to back our bags, full of memories from our adventure and thinking ahead of what adventures lay ahead.
After an early breakfast and a meeting with New Zealand Customs, we disembarked at the port of Bluff. It was time to say our goodbyes and journey back to our homes in different parts of the world, returning to our individual lives, houses and occupations. We will not forget however the awe-inspiring expedition we had shared and the treasured memories we will carry with us for a long time.
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" The Heritage expedition was truly wonderful, and we had a memorable voyage. The expedition leaders kept telling us that we were very lucky with the weather, and we felt lucky to be there. The journey was smooth, and we were able to do great hikes, and go out on the Zodiacs and reach new places, and see all the wildlife we could ever hope to see. All the leaders were kind, cheerful and keen, and worked very hard to make sure we made the most of every moment.
The highlight for us was Macquarie Island, where we were surrounded by all the seal, penguins and other birds, close up, and they were as inquisitive as we were. Our ranger guide was very informative and enthusiastic, and we were even invited in to the base for a cup of tea, and we could see how the Macca researchers lived and worked.
We had a lot of fun with our fellow passengers and the leaders, and became good friends with a lot of people we will probably never meet again!
We would recommend to journey to anyone, as long as they understood that the weather can play a big part in such a trip. "
" I participated in the Galapagos of the Southern Ocean trip, commencing on Dec 9th, 2012. I very much appreciated the opportunity to visit a part of Tasmania that has interested me for a long time, and to step ashore on Macquarie Island was an amazing experience. To be able to experience the vast colonies of breeding King and Royal Penguins and to see Albatrosses close by and megaherbs in full flower was exceptional. Thanks to the staff of Heritage Expeditions for looking after us so well. "