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Western Pacific Odyssey Spring 2013Shorter Itinerary! Lower Prices! New Zealand to PNG
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Relatively unexplored by keen sea watchers until now, WildWings conceived and designed this ‘world first’ voyage, sailing northwards from New Zealand through the Pacific Ocean to Japan, with the inaugural departure being in spring 2007 followed by five subsequent and equally successful departures. For 2013, a shorter version will be on offer, which still retains the majority of the avian highlights of the full voyage, at a greatly reduced price!
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 planned landings to 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 snorkelling and general island exploration opportunities for the not so keen birder.
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.
We start by sailing from Christchurch, New Zealand along the east coast of South Island, through the Cook Strait and north along the western side of North Island. We anticipate many southern tubenoses before venturing north and then finally west, looking for some of the rarest tropical seabirds in the world, cruising through generally tranquil seas.
We anticipate finding almost mythical species such as Heinroth’s Shearwater (seen all years), Polynesian Storm-Petrel (seen 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012) and the recently re-discovered Beck’s Petrel (seen all years) plus the possibility of the ‘Fiji’-type Petrels (seen 2007 and 2008) 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 ever-growing seabird list with at least one photographed during the 2007 voyage.
Recent voyages have also seen the mystery Storm-Petrel south of New Caledonia which was first discovered on WPO 2008 with the excellent views and photographs in 2012 finally showing that this is surely a new species to science! A special private expedition is now being planned to resolve this mystery and hopefully describe this exciting bird.
Other possibilities include the recently described ‘Magnificent Petrel’ which has now been photographed on at least two WPOs (2009 and 2012) 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 apparently different biometrics to other Masked Boobies populations.
A good supporting cast of cetaceans is also expected including beaked whales and various dolphins. Other marine life we expect to see include flying fish, sharks and turtles.
Seasonal weather at this time of year is normally good and the previous expeditions 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 54 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 2013 will be his eighth such voyage. Other seabird ‘luminaries’ will also be onboard to help you maximise your experience.
Day 1: Embark late afternoon in Lyttelton, New Zealand and sail early evening.
Day 2: We will sail north past Kaikoura in the morning, on through the Cook Strait in the evening and then into the Tasman Sea. Up to 9 species of albatross are possible plus many other southern seabirds, as well as Sperm Whales, Dusky Dolphins and New Zealand Fur Seals.
Days 3-5: At sea. Expected species include White-necked, Black-winged and Grey-faced Petrels plus Buller’s, Wedge-tailed and Flesh-footed Shearwaters.
Day 6: Norfolk Island (Australia). We plan to seek the three endemics, Norfolk Island Parakeet, Norfolk Gerygone and Slender-billed White-eye, plus the recently split Pacific Robin.
Days 7-8: At sea. New tubenoses on this sector could include Kermadec and Providence Petrels plus Sooty Terns and Great Frigatebirds. We will also be looking for our mystery storm-petrel, ‘New Caledonia Storm-Petrel’, which has been seen annually since 2010 and first discovered on WPO 2008 as well as Magnificent Petrel.
Day 9: Noumea (New Caledonia). Arrive in the early hours, today we will explore the Parc de la Riviere Bleue for the unique Kagu and other endemics such as New Caledonian Imperial Pigeon, White-bellied Goshawk, New Caledonian and Horned Parakeets, New Caledonian Myzomela, New Caledonian Whistler, New Caledonian Crow, New Caledonian Cuckoo-Shrike, New Caledonian Friarbird, Crow and Barred Honeyeaters, Yellow-bellied Robin, Cloven-feathered Dove, Green-backed White-eye, Red-throated Parrotfinch and Striated Starling.
Days 10-12: At sea. Potential new tubenoses on this sector include Collared, Gould’s, Tahiti and possibly Vanuatu Petrels, Polynesian Storm-Petrel and Tropical Shearwater.
Day 13: Rennell (Solomon Islands). We shall seek a number of Solomon endemics including the five species restricted to Rennell, Rennell Shrikebill, Fantail, White-eye and Starling plus Bare-eyed White-eye on this small tropical island.
Day 14: Makira (Solomon Islands). We will search for more endemics on this rarely visited island including White-headed Fruit Dove, Mottled Flowerpecker, White-collared Monarch, Makira Flycatcher, Sooty Myzomela, San Cristobal Melidectes and many more.
Day 15: 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 16: Kolombangara (Solomon Islands) in the afternoon. We hope to find Roviana Rail (the species was only described in 1991), as well as Solomon Sea-Eagle, White-capped and Kolombangara Monarchs, as well as other endemics such as Yellow-vented Myzomela and Solomon Islands White-eye.
Days 17-18: At sea. We plan to spend some time exploring the waters off Bougainville and New Ireland, which are rich in cetaceans and the now known range of Beck’s Petrel and Heinroth’s Shearwater, both seen on all previous voyages.
Day 19: Disembark Kavieng after breakfast. Optional bird excursion subject to demand.
Day 20: Checkout of hotel. (Flights are scheduled to Port Moresby with connections to Brisbane the same day)
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- all seen on previous departures)
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, Beck’s Petrel, Fiji Petrel, ‘Magnificent Petrel’, White-necked Petrel, Vanuatu Petrel, Cook’s Petrel, Gould’s Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Pycroft’s Petrel, Fairy Prion, Bulwer’s Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Black Petrel, Westland Black Petrel, Streaked Shearwater, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Short-tailed Shearwater, Heinroth’s Shearwater, Fluttering Shearwater, Little Shearwater and Tropical Shearwaters, ‘New Caledonian Storm-Petrel’, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Black-bellied and White-bellied Storm-Petrels, White-faced Storm-Petrel , Polynesian Storm-Petrel, Common Diving-Petrel, Red-tailed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Australasian Gannet, Tasman and Masked Booby, Red-footed Booby, Brown Booby, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, South Polar and Brown Skuas, Kelp Gull, Red-billed Gull, Black-billed Gull, Silver Gull, White-fronted Tern, Black-naped Tern, Grey-backed Tern, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Fairy Tern, Great Crested and White Terns, Grey Ternlet, Brown and Black Noddies.
The following cetaceans have been seen on one or more of the previous expeditions or 2005 recce voyage: Bryde’s/Omaru’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, Striped, Pantropical Spotted, Eastern Spinner, Bottlenose, Risso’s, Rough-toothed and Fraser’s Dolphins.
Selected ‘Island’ Birds, seen during previous voyages.
Pacific Baza, Solomon Islands Sea-Eagle, White-bellied Goshawk, Roviana Rail, Kagu, Melanesian Scrubfowl, Grey-tailed and Wandering Tattlers, 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, Finsch’s Pygmy-Parrot, Buff-headed Coucal, Moustached Treeswift, Ultramarine and Beach Kingfishers, Solomon Islands, North and South Melanesian Cuckoo-Shrikes, Island Thrush, Rennell, White-winged and Streaked Fantails, Rennell Shrikebill, Kolombagara, White-collared, Chestnut-bellied and White-capped Monarchs, Pacific and Yellow-bellied Robins, New Caledonian Whistler, Norfolk Island and Rennell (Fan-tailed) Gerygones and Rennell, Green-backed and Solomon Islands White-Eyes, Midget and Mottled Flowerpeckers, San Cristobal Melidectes, Sooty, Yellow-vented, Cardinal and New Caledonian Myzomelas, New Caledonia Friarbird and Crow Honeyeater, Brown-winged and San Cristobal Starlings and Mynas plus Red-throated and Blue-faced Parrotfinches.
Landing Fees (which includes donations to conservation projects and villages we will land at) £325pp.
Exchange rate £1 = $1.55. Non-UK residents can pay in US Dollars if they prefer.
Single occupancy 1.8 times twin share price (x2 for suites)
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 and ship’s expedition team, day-by-day bird and mammal checklist, use of group radios and evening log-call. Post voyage hotel accommodation for one night in Kavieng.
Excludes: Flights (UK - New Zealand, PNG – UK via Australia from approx £1650), transfers, pre and post voyage hotels if required, travel insurance, drinks, crew tips (suggest US$10 per day), visas and other items of a personal nature.
An optional pre-cruise pelagic will be on offer from Sandspit, North Island, in search of New Zealand Storm-Petrel, details TBC. An optional post cruise extension to New Britain and PNG, led by Chris Collins will also be on offer subject to demand.
The previous trip reports and systematic lists are available on our website or from the WildWings office.
This voyage will not operate again until 2016, we will have some new itineraries visiting other locations in the south-west Pacific instead, see the New Pacific Voyages 2014 pages for details
WildWings, Davis House, Lodge Causeway, Bristol, BS16 3JB. UK