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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 – Chuuk – Japan

SAMPLE WILDLIFE

Numerous temperate and tropical Pacific seabirds including Short-tailed Albatross, Beck’s Petrel, Heinroth’s Shearwater, Polynesian, Tristram’s, New Zealand and ‘New Caledonian’ Storm-Petrels, Japanese Murrelet, as well as Solomon Sea-Eagle, Kagu and many other island endemics. 20 + species of whales and dolphins are also possible. See the itinerary section for a more comprehensive list.

CLIMATE

Temperate to tropical and back to temperate

ACCOMMODATION

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

Relatively unexplored by keen sea watchers, WildWings conceived and designed this ‘world first’ voyage, sailing northwards from New Zealand through the Pacific Ocean to Japan.  The inaugural departure was in 2007 followed by several equally successful departures, however, for the last few years a series of shorter voyages to PNG have operated.  We are, therefore, delighted to announce that our full, original itinerary is back and this includes planned landings on the Bonin and Izu islands (south of Japan) and a close approach to Torishima Island, the home of the Short-tailed Albatross.  For early bookers, we can offer special prices too! 

 

The voyage includes many days at sea, travelling through waters where some of the least known seabirds on the planet can be found. The itinerary also includes a number of landings on rarely visited islands, rich in bird endemics. The unique Kagu of New Caledonia being an example of one of the many special species we will seek ashore. There will also be some optional snorkeling and general island exploration opportunities for anyone wanting to take a break from birding. 

The main purpose of the voyage, however, will be the seabirds and cetaceans, and we will use chum and fish oil during the voyage to target specific seabirds.  Photographic opportunities are generally good to excellent. 

Recent voyages have also seen a mystery Storm-petrel offshore from New Caledonia which was first discovered on WPO 2008.  Subsequent expeditions have now confirmed that these birds are indeed an unknown species. Full details, photographs and biometrics will be published soon. The upcoming 2019 voyage offers the next chance to see one of the world’s newest birds!

Other possibilities include the recently described ‘Magnificent Petrel’ which has now been photographed on several recent WPOs and on Norfolk Island, we can expect to see ‘Tasman Booby’ which may well be split from Masked Booby as these birds have dark eyes and different biometrics to other Masked Boobies populations.  

We start by sailing through New Zealand’s famed Hauraki Gulf for the recently rediscovered New Zealand Storm-Petrel and other southern tubenoses before venturing north.  Our itinerary crosses both tropics and the Equator on our way to the Japanese breeding grounds of another two of the world’s rarest seabirds, Short-tailed Albatross and Japanese Murrelet, with a host of other seabird possibilities along the way, as we cruise through generally tranquil tropical seas.  

We anticipate finding a number of almost mythical species, such as Heinroth’s Shearwater, Polynesian Storm-Petrel and Beck’s Petrel plus the possibility of the‘Fiji’-type Petrels off the coast of New Ireland.  The breeding grounds of Vanuatu Petrel have now been discovered (only a couple of hundred miles to the east of our route) and this species has been added to the WPO’s amazing seabird list. Another possibility is the recently described Bryan’s Shearwater and we plan to spend an evening offshore from the only known breeding island for this species in the Bonin Islands where we saw it in 2019.

Recent voyages have also seen a mystery Storm-petrel offshore from New Caledonia which was first discovered on WPO 2008.  Subsequent expeditions have now confirmed that these birds are indeed an unknown species. Full details, photographs and biometrics will be published soon. The upcoming 2020 & 2021 voyages offer the next chances to see one of the world’s newest birds!

Other possibilities include the recently described ‘Magnificent Petrel’ which has now been photographed on several recent WPOs and on Norfolk Island, we can expect to see ‘Tasman Booby’ which may well be split from Masked Booby as these birds have dark eyes and different biometrics to other Masked Boobies populations.  

A good, sometimes amazing, supporting cast of cetaceans is also expected including beaked whales and various dolphins and species seen previously include Blue Whale, Sperm Whale, Melon-headed Whale, Dwarf and Pygmy Sperm Whales, Blainville’s Beaked Whale and Spinner Dolphins with participants on WPO 2019 being amongst the first to see the newly described Deraniyagala’s Beaked Whale. 

Seasonal weather at this time of year is normally good and the previous expeditions have enjoyed a generally calm passage in warm to hot conditions. Explore remote tropical islands such as Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands and enjoy Pacific dawns and sunsets, rainbows and long sunny days. 

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, conceived of this concept trip and 2020 will be his thirteenth such voyage. Other seabird ‘luminaries’ will also be onboard to help you maximise your experience.


NB: Please see trip report tab for a more detailed version!

Day 1: Tauranga, North Island, New Zealand. Sail late afternoon.

Day 2: At sea, Hauraki Gulf

Days 3-4: At sea

Day 5: Norfolk Island

Day 6: At sea.

Day 7: New Caledonia, Riviere Bleue.

Day 8: AM New Caledonia, Mount Koghi, PM At sea.

Days 9 -10: At sea.

Day 11: Nendo, Solomon Islands.

Day 12: Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

Day 13: Anuta Island, Solomon Islands.

Day 14: Honiara, Solomon Islands.

Day 15: Tetepare Island, Solomon Islands

Day 16: Kolombangara, Solomon Islands

Day 17: At sea, off Bougainville

Day 18: At sea, off New Ireland

Days 19-20: At sea

Day 21-22: Weno & Tol South, Caroline Islands (Truk Lagoon)

Days 23-26: At sea

Day 27: Chichi-Jima Island, Japan

Day 28: At sea

Day 29: At sea, off Torishima Island, Japan

Day 30: Hachijo-jima Island, Japan

Day 31: Disembark vessel, Yokohama, Japan.

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, Pacific, Short-tailed, Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, Tahiti Petrel, Beck’s Petrel, ‘Fiji’-type Petrel, Grey-faced Petrel, Providence Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Herald Petrel, Magnificent Petrel, White-necked Petrel, Vanuatu Petrel, Cook’s Petrel, Gould’s Petrel, Bonin Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Pycroft’s Petrel, Fairy Prion, Bulwer’s Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Black Petrel, Streaked Shearwater, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Short-tailed Shearwater, Heinroth’s Shearwater, Christmas Shearwater, Fluttering Shearwater, Little Shearwater, Atoll and Bannerman’s Shearwaters (former subspecies of Audubon’s Shearwater), Bryan’s Shearwater, ‘New Caledonian’ Storm-Petrel, New Zealand Storm-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, White-bellied Storm-Petrel, White-faced Storm-Petrel , Polynesian Storm-Petrel, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Tristram’s Storm-Petrel, Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrel, Common Diving-Petrel, Red-tailed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Australasian Gannet, Tasman & Masked Booby, Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby, Japanese Cormorant, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, South Polar and Brown Skuas, Black-tailed Gull, Kelp Gull, Slaty-backed Gull, Silver Gull, White-fronted Tern, Black-naped Tern, Grey-backed Tern, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Fairy Tern, Great Crested Tern, Grey Ternlet, Brown and Black Noddies, White Tern, Ancient & Japanese Murrelets and Rhinoceros Auklet.

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, Hubb’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, Roviana Rail, Kagu, Pacific Emerald Dove, Caroline Islands Ground-Dove, Purple-crowned, White-headed and Claret-breasted Fruit-Doves, Cloven-feathered Dove, Chestnut-bellied, Red-knobbed and Pacific Imperial-Pigeons, Ducorps’s Cockatoo, Cardinal Lory, Yellow-bibbed Lory, Finsch’s Pygmy-Parrot, Buff-headed Coucal, Moustached Treeswift, Ultramarine and Beach Kingfishers, Solomon Islands, North and South Melanesian Cuckoo-Shrikes, Caroline Reed Warbler, Rennell, White-winged and Streaked Fantails, Rennell Shrikebill, Kolombangara, White-collared, Chestnut-bellied and White-capped Monarchs, Oceanic Flycatcher, Norfolk and Yellow-bellied Robins, New Caledonian Whistler, Norfolk Island and Rennell Gerygones, Rennell, Bare-eyed, Green-backed, Solomon Islands and Caroline Islands White-eyes, Midget and Mottled Flowerpeckers, San Cristobal Melidectes, Sooty, Red-capped, Cardinal and New Caledonian Myzomelas, New Caledonian Friarbird and Crow Honeyeater, Micronesian, Brown-winged and San Cristobal Starlings and Red-throated and Blue-faced Parrotfinches. 

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

Special WildWings early booking prices, guaranteed in Sterling!

(valid for bookings made by 31/10/2019)

Dates: New Zealand – Japan 13th March – 12th April 2020

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

Prices: 2020

£6859 sharing a twin with washbasin (lower berths) 

£7499 sharing a twin with private facilities (upper & lower berths)

£7929 sharing a twin with private facilities (lower berths)

£9499 sharing a suite with private facilities (double bed)

Booking Deposit 25%

Discovery Fund US$600pp, payable in cash onboard (which includes donations to conservation projects and villages we will visit).

__________________________________________________

Dates: New Zealand – Japan 1st April – 1st May 2021

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

Prices: 2021

£7199   sharing a twin with washbasin (lower berths) 

£7875   sharing a twin with private facilities (upper & lower berths)

£8325   sharing a twin with private facilities (lower berths)

£9975   sharing a suite with private facilities (double bed)

Discovery Fund US$600pp, payable in cash onboard (which includes donations to conservation projects and villages we will visit). 

Booking Deposit 10%

Second deposit 15% due by 1/3/20.

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 ship’s expedition team, transfers to ship from designated meeting point in Tauranga and from the ship to Yokohama railway station, day-by-day bird and mammal checklist and evening log-call.

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

The previous trip reports and systematic lists are available on this website or from the WildWings office.


    Photo

    Tour Leader

    Chris has birded in over 80 countries and territories around the world and now spends the 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.

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"It was a very very enjoyable cruise!! We are very thankful to you and Chris, of course HE staff” 

Western Pacific Oddysey - H & S.T. WPO April 2019

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