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South Western Pacific Odyssey

 AT A GLANCE

FOCUS

Bird & Wildlife Cruise:  birds, whales & dolphins, remote islands & photography.

WHERE

New Zealand – Norfolk Island – New Caledonia – Solomon Islands – PNG

SAMPLE WILDLIFE

Numerous temperate and tropical Pacific seabirds including Beck’s Petrel, Magnificent Petrel, Heinroth’s Shearwater, Polynesian, New Zealand and ‘New Caledonian’ Storm-Petrels, as well as Solomon Sea-Eagle, Kagu and many other island endemics. 20 + species of whales and dolphins are also possible.

CLIMATE

Temperate to tropical.

ACCOMMODATION

50+ passenger expedition ship, cabins with and without private facilities.

NB: In 2018 the full Western Pacific Odyssey is back!, NZ – Japan with landings in the Bonin and other Japanese islands.Full details here

Relatively unexplored by keen sea watchers until recently, WildWings conceived and designed a ‘world first’ voyage, the Western Pacific Odyssey, which sailed northwards from New Zealand through the Pacific Ocean to Japan, with the inaugural departure being in spring 2007 followed by almost annual and equally successful departures. From 2016 however, the voyage will only go as far as Papua New Guinea and has been renamed the ‘South West Pacific Odyssey’ to reflect this change.

This shorter and less expensive voyage includes a number of days at sea, travelling through waters where some of the least known seabirds on the planet can be found. The itinerary also includes a landings on a number of rarely visited islands, many of which are rich in bird endemics.

This exciting voyage sails northwards from New Zealand each April offering a spectacular combination of localised seabirds and landings on rarely visited islands which are rich in endemics.  Amongst the expected species is one of the world’s most wanted land birds, the unique Kagu of New Caledonia, however, the list of seabirds is equally impressive and includes New Zealand and Polynesian Storm-petrels, Beck’s Petrel and Heinroth’s Shearwater.

The voyage starts in New Zealand’s famed Hauraki Gulf and then heads to Norfolk Island, New Caledonia, visiting six islands in Solomon Islands before ending in Papua New Guinea.  The list of desirable land birds is extremely impressive and participants are likely to see about one hundred regional endemics.  Possibilities include Solomon Islands Sea-Eagle, a multitude of colourful doves and pigeons such as Claret-breasted and Yellow-bibbed Fruit-doves, Ultramarine Kingfisher, Ducorps’ Cockatoo, Blyth’s Hornbill, Yellow-bellied Robin and the appropriately named Midget Flowerpecker.

Seabirds and cetaceans are also an integral part of the expedition and we will use chum and fish oil at certain points during the voyage to target specific species.  The list of seabirds which have been recorded on this voyage is legendary and includes Wandering and Campbell Albatrosses, Beck’s, Tahiti, Kermadec, White-necked and Gould’s Petrels, Tropical and Heinroth’s Shearwaters, New Zealand, Polynesian and White-faced Storm-petrels, Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, Greater and Lesser Frigatebirds and Masked, Brown and Red-footed Boobies.  Indeed, what makes this voyage truly unique are that two storm-petrels which appear to be new species to science have been discovered during previous sailings! 

An excellent supporting cast of cetaceans is also expected and ‘wanted’ species such as Blainville’s Beaked Whale, Dwarf Sperm Whale, Spinner Dolphin and False Killer Whale have been recorded on an almost annual basis.  

The trip also offers options for the not so keen birder and on a number of the landings, there are opportunities to snorkel over some of the most pristine reef systems in the world.   


The weather at this time of year is normally excellent and previous expeditions have enjoyed a calm passage in warm to hot conditions.  Photographic opportunities are generally good to excellent.

Our vessel will be the comfortable expedition ship, the Spirit of Enderby, operated by Heritage Expeditions carrying a maximum of just over 50 passengers. All cabins have portholes or windows and plenty of storage space. The ship has a bar/library lounge and a dedicated lecture room with informal but excellent dining in two dining rooms. We will use her Zodiacs for landings and cruises.

Chris Collins, the WildWings leader, greatly assisted in putting this trip together and 2017 will be his eleventh such voyage. Other seabird ‘luminaries’ may also be onboard to help you maximise your experience.


Day 1: Embark late afternoon in Tauranga, New Zealand and sail.

Day 2: We will sail north through the Hauraki Gulf in the morning, looking for the recently rediscovered New Zealand Storm-Petrel, as well as Grey Ternlet, Black Petrel, Cook’s Petrel and other seabirds. 

Days 3 & 4: At sea. Expected species include White-necked, Black-winged and Grey-faced Petrels plus Buller’s, Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters.

Day 5: Norfolk Island (Australia). We plan to seek the four endemics, Norfolk Island Parakeet, Norfolk Gerygone, Slender-billed White-eye and Norfolk Robin.  

Day 6: At sea. New tubenoses on this sector could include Kermadec, Providence and Magnificent Petrels plus Sooty Terns and Great Frigatebirds plus a chance of the mysterious ‘New Caledonian Storm-petrel’.

Day 7: Noumea (New Caledonia). We will explore the Parc de la Riviere Bleue for the unique Kagu and other endemics such as White-bellied Goshawk, New Caledonian Imperial Pigeon, Cloven-feathered Dove, New Caledonian and Horned Parakeets, New Caledonian Myzomela, New Caledonian Whistler, New Caledonian Cuckoo-Shrike, New Caledonian Friarbird, Crow and Barred Honeyeaters, Yellow-bellied Robin, New Caledonian Crow, Green-backed White-eye, Red-throated Parrotfinch and Striated Starling.

Day 8: Lifou (New Caledonia) We plan a morning landing on this small paradise island, where we hope to find the two endemic white-eyes, Large Lifou White-eye and Small Lifou White-eye.  There may also be opportunities for snorkeling or a zodiac cruise.   


Days 9-10: At sea. Potential new tubenoses on this sector include Collared, Gould’s, Tahiti and possibly Vanuatu Petrels, Polynesian Storm-Petrel and Tropical Shearwater.   We will also be on the lookout for a strange storm-petrel which resembles Band-rumped, a species which is unknown in the south-west Pacific. 

Day 11: Santa Ana (Solomon Islands). A remote island at the eastern end of the Solomons archipelago and an opportunity to find our first Solomon Island endemics.  These could include Solomon Islands Sea-eagle, Silver-capped Fruit-dove, White-headed Fruit-Dove and White-collared Monarch.

Day 12: Makira (Solomon Islands). We will search for more endemics on this rarely visited island including Mottled Flowerpecker, Makira Flycatcher, Sooty Myzomela, San Cristobal Melidectes and many more.


Day 13: Honiara (Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands). Morning birding excursion to nearby Mount Austin.  Solomon Island group endemics found here include Ultramarine Kingfisher, Solomon Islands Cuckoo-Shrike, Ducorp’s Cockatoo, Claret-breasted Fruit-dove and Midget Flowerpecker.

Day 14: Santa Isabel, Barora Fa Island and the Poru Channel (Solomon Islands).  One of the most beautiful locations in the region and we plan to zodiac cruise through some fantastic forested channels with clear water, beautiful corals and untouched forest.  There are some more localised birds to look for including Yellow-throated White-eye, White-billed Crow and Melanesian Megapode.


Day 15: Kolombangara (Solomon Islands).  A trip into the highlands and a visit to a forest reserve on this volcanic island where we will look for Pale Mountain Pigeon, Meek’s and Duchess Lorikeets, Crimson-rumped Myzomela, White-capped and Kolombangara Monarchs and Solomon Islands White-eye. As we sail away in the afternoon, we will have our first chance of finding Heinroth’s Shearwater.

Day 16: Shortland Islands (Solomon Islands). Explore a rarely visited island archipelago which was a major site of the Battle of the Pacific in WWII.  We plan to offer a zodiac cruise (Nicobar Pigeon seen in 2016) before exploring a wooded area where we hope to find more localised endemics including Bougainville Monarch and Red-capped Myzomela.

Day 17: At sea. We plan to spend some time exploring the waters off New Ireland, which are rich in cetaceans and the now known range of Beck’s Petrel and Heinroth’s Shearwater.

Day 18: Arrive Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. Disembark

NB: As applies to all expedition cruises, the exact itinerary will be subject to weather and local conditions. All landings are subject to government permissions.

Potential Seabirds (selected species only)


Little Penguin, Antipodean, Gibson’s, Northern Royal, Snowy, Campbell, White-capped and Pacific Albatrosses, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, Grey-faced Petrel, Tahiti Petrel, Providence Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Herald Petrel, White-necked Petrel, Vanuatu Petrel, Cook’s Petrel, Gould’s Petrel, Collared Petrel, Magnificent Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Pycroft’s Petrel, Beck’s Petrel, Fairy Prion, Bulwer’s Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Black Petrel, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Short-tailed Shearwater, Heinroth’s Shearwater, Fluttering Shearwater, Tropical Shearwater, ‘New Caledonian’ Storm-Petrel, New Zealand Storm-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Black-bellied and White-bellied Storm-Petrels, White-faced Storm-Petrel , Polynesian Storm-Petrel, ‘Coral Sea’ Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Common Diving-Petrel, Red-tailed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Australasian Gannet, Tasman & Masked Booby, Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, South Polar and Brown Skuas, Kelp Gull, Red-billed Gull, Silver Gull, Black-billed Gull, White-fronted Tern, Grey-backed Tern, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Fairy Tern, Great Crested Tern, Grey Ternlet, Brown and Black Noddies plus White Terns

All seen on at least one or more of the previous expeditions.


The following cetaceans have been seen on one or more of the previous expeditions:Bryde’s Whale, Sperm Whale, Blue Whale, Dwarf and Pygmy Sperm Whales, Gray’s, Cuvier’s, Longman’s, Ginkgo-toothed and Blainville’s Beaked-Whales, Short-finned and Long-finned Pilot Whales, Orca, False Killer Whale, Pygmy Killer Whale, Melon-headed Whale, Striped, Pantropical Spotted, Eastern Spinner, Bottlenose, Risso’s, Short-beaked Common, Rough-toothed and Fraser’s Dolphins.

 

Selected ‘Island’ Birds

Pacific Baza, Solomon Sea-Eagle, White-bellied Goshawk, Kagu, Pacific Emerald Dove, White-headed and Claret-breasted Fruit-Doves, Cloven-feathered Dove, Chestnut-bellied, Red-knobbed and Pacific Imperial-Pigeons, Ducorp’s Cockatoo, Cardinal Lory, Yellow-bibbed Lory, Duchess Lorikeet, Finsch’s Pygmy-Parrot, Buff-headed Coucal, Moustached Treeswift, Ultramarine and Beach Kingfishers, Solomon Islands, North and South Melanesian Cuckoo-Shrikes, White-winged and Streaked Fantails, Kolombagara, White-collared, Chestnut-bellied and White-capped Monarchs, Pacific and Yellow-bellied Robins, New Caledonian Whistler, Norfolk Island Gerygone, Green-backed, Solomon Islands and Yellow-throated White-eyes, Midget and Mottled Flowerpeckers, San Cristobal Melidectes, Sooty, Red-capped, Cardinal and New Caledonian Myzomelas, New Caledonian Friarbird, Crow Honeyeater, Brown-winged and San Cristobal Starlings and Red-throated Parrotfinch. 

 

All seen during the previous voyages. 


Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.

Voyage information

2017

Dates: New Zealand – PNG 1st -18th April 2017

Leader/s: Chris Collins and the rest of the ship’s expedition team

Prices:

£4345 Sharing a twin with washbasin (lower berths)                                        

£5585 Sharing a twin with private facilities (upper & lower berth or both lower berths)

Landing Fees (which includes donations to conservation projects and villages we will visit) £345pp. 

Special Offer: You may also join the PNG Explorer Voyage, 17th – 29th April 2017 for only £689pp (plus US$500pp payable onboard). Chris Collins will also be on this voyage.

More details here

These are ‘special’ Sterling prices. Payment can also be made in US$, please contact us for rates.

Prices include: Voyage with accommodation as booked, including all meals aboard vessel, tea and coffee, guided shore excursions as described, lectures and services of WildWings leader and ship’s expedition team, day-by-day bird and mammal checklist and evening log-call.

 

Excludes: Flights, transfers in Auckland and Japan, pre and post voyage hotels, travel insurance, drinks, crew tips (suggest US$10 per day), visas and other items of a personal nature.

Due to routine vessel maintenance, this voyage will not operate in 2018.

The previous voyage reports and systematic lists, including 2015, are available on our website or from the WildWings office.

    Photo

    Tour Leader

    Chris has birded in over 50 countries around the world and now spends quite a lot of his time at sea. Although professionally qualified as a Chartered Accountant, these days Chris concentrates on wildlife-related projects and was very instrumental in setting up the Western Pacific Odyssey and also guides our Russian Far East voyages.

    Learn More

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