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The Sub-Antarctic Islands of Australia and New Zealand



Bird & Wildlife Cruise:
birds, whales & dolphins, island scenery & photography.


Bluff (S. Island, NZ) – Snares – Auckland Islands – Macquarie Island – Campbell Island – Antipodes – Bounty Islands – Chatham Islands – Christchurch (S. Island, NZ)


Seabirds galore including endemics, penguins including endemic Royal, Snares-crested and Erect-crested Penguins, other island endemics, whales, dolphins & seals.


Temperate cool to Polar cold.


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

For birdwatchers, botanists and island enthusiasts, the ice-strengthened Spirit of Enderby (50 passengers), offers a number of voyages to these rarely visited islands. The itinerary shown here is the ‘Birding Downunder’ trip, which visits all the islands of avian interest, and can be deemed to be an essential ‘WildWings’ pelagic.  The shorter voyages offered by the same vessel offer a limited ‘snapshot’ only. Over 40 species of tubenose alone can be expected, over a third of the world’s total! There is not a moment at sea without at least a Cape Petrel, prions and a few albatrosses present. The list of seabirds is staggering and large numbers will be encountered both at sea, and on land breeding in the islands.  Albatrosses (up to 15 species), shearwaters, petrels, penguins (eight species) including endemics and shags (up to ten species) head an awesome list. The almost mythical Magenta Petrel seems to be seen much more frequently in the last few years too, with three passes by one bird during the 2011 voyage and the species was seen again in 2012. 

There is also a chance of the even more rarely seen Chatham Island Petrel. A number of other island bird endemics can be expected, Sub-Antarctic Snipe, Auckland and Campbell Island Flightless Teals and the stunning Shore Plover to name a few. Explore uninhabited beautiful wilderness islands. Great photographic opportunities abound throughout.  This trip is an ideal choice for those of you who have already been to Antarctica from South America. Seals, sea lions, whales and dolphins will be encountered too.  WildWings will be pleased to assist with your other travel plans in connection with this expedition, Fjordland Crested and White-flippered Blue Penguin can be found on South Island. Visit Kaikoura for more seabirds, Sperm Whales and Dusky Dolphins and Akaroa for the endemic Hector’s Dolphin. Demand is always high for this annual voyage, early booking recommended.

Day 1: Arrive Invercargill, New Zealand's southern most city, overnight hotel with dinner.

Day 2: After breakfast, a museum visit including a video presentation, followed by lunch. Transfer by coach to the port of Bluff (27 km south of Invercargill) to board theSpirit of Enderbyand sail.

Day 3: The Snares is the first of the Sub-Antarctic Islands that we will be visiting. It is an amazing island - more birds nest on this small island than there are seabirds around the entire British Isles! We will arrive early morning, and Zodiac cruise the sheltered eastern side.  In the sheltered bays we should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguins, Tomtit and Fernbird, Cape Petrel, Antarctic and White-fronted Terns and Red-billed Gulls.  An estimated six million Sooty Shearwaters nest on the Snares Islands.

Day 4: Arrive at Enderby Island, a great island to bird in the Auckland Island group. We make a landing at Sandy Bay, the main breeding ground for the Hookers Sea Lion with observations of the following species: nesting Southern Royal Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, nesting Auckland Island Shag, Auckland Island Teal, Auckland Island Banded Dotterel, Auckland Island Tomtit, Bellbird, Pipit, Red-crowned Parakeet, Yellow- eyed Penguin and nesting Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. We will spend some time searching for the Sub-Antarctic Snipe.

Day 5: This morning we will cruise to Carnley Harbour in the south of the main Auckland Islands. There will be an opportunity for the energetic participants to climb to the south west Cape White-capped Albatross colony. Gibson’s Wandering Albatross nest above this colony amongst the tussock too, we should get good views. Those remaining on board will explore the coastal forest with a chance to see New Zealand Falcon and enjoy close encounters with other bush birds. 

Day 6: We will be at sea all day, another opportunity to see many pelagic species, including Wandering, Royal, White-capped, Light-mantled Sooty, Grey-headed and Black-browed Albatrosses, White- chinned,  Mottled, White-headed and Cape Petrel, diving petrels, Grey-backed and Black-bellied Storm Petrel. In 2001 as the ship left for the journey south, 22 species of seabird were in the air at once.

Days 7-8: Arrive at Macquarie Island which is, of course the only place to see the Royal Penguin and there is an abundance of these. King Penguins are also found in large numbers. Two other penguin species breed here; Gentoo and Rockhopper. Along the coast we will see the Imperial (Macquarie) Shag. We plan to land at ANARE base and at Sandy Bay. We will also Zodiac cruise Lusitania Bay, where there is a huge King Penguin colony.  Pods of Orcas may be seen hunting for ‘weaners’. We continue our exploration of Macquarie Island and then depart for Campbell Island on the afternoon of our second day.

Day 9: At sea en route to Campbell Island, we will see a similar range of species to what we saw on our way to Macquarie Island from the Auckland Islands, hopefully with a few Hourglass Dolphins too.

Day 10: We will spend the day ashore to see the wonderful nesting Southern Royal Albatross, Campbell Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Campbell Island Shag, Rockhopper Penguin, Southern Skua, Red-billed Gull, Black-backed Gull, Antarctic Tern, and the New Zealand Pipit. Campbell Island Teal can also be seen, an endemic rediscovered by Rodney Russ back in 1975. Campbell Island Snipe was also seen in 2012.

Day 11: At sea en route to the Antipodes, another day for pelagic species. Wandering, Royal, Black-browed, Light-mantled Sooty, Salvins and Grey-headed Albatrosses, Northern and Southern Giant Petrel, Sooty and Little Shearwaters. We will endeavour to sort out Fairy, Fulmar and Antarctic Prions which are not always easy but we should get some great views. Other species to be on the look out for include Soft-plumaged, Mottled, White-headed, Grey-faced and White-chinned Petrels, Grey-backed, Wilson’s and Black-bellied Storm Petrels plus Common Diving Petrel. 

Day 12: Antipodes Island is one of the most isolated and least known of the New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands. We will Zodiac cruise the coastline where we should see the Antipodes Island Parakeet and also the Red-crowned, which is a strong subspecies. We will also seek the Antipodes subspecies of the NZ Pipit. Both Rockhopper and Erect-crested Penguins frequent the coastline and Antipodean Wandering Albatross nest on high. Magenta Petrels are possible from this point onwards.

Day 13: En route to the Bounty Islands, inhospitable granite knobs lashed by the Southern Ocean we should see Wandering, Buller’s, White-capped and Salvin’s Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Cape Petrel, Antarctic Fulmar, Mottled Petrel, Soft-plumaged Petrel, Broad billed Prion, Fulmar Prion, White-chinned Petrel, White-faced Storm Petrel to name a few. Arrive at the Bounty Islands early morning to Zodiac cruise. Erect-crested Penguin and the Bounty Island Shag should feature on our bird lists.

Day 14: En route to the Chatham Archipelago will be more time for pelagic watching - we will be especially interested in looking out for the Chatham Island Petrel (it has been seen on this leg of the voyage before) and also Magenta Petrel. Whales and dolphins should be encountered too.

Day 15-16: We will arrive at the Chathams travelling past Pyramid Rock - which is the breeding place of the entire world population of the exquisite Chatham Island Albatross. At South East Island (Rangatira) we will Zodiac cruise (landings are not permitted) and should obtain good views of the very rare Shore Plover and the Chatham Island Oystercatcher. Chatham (Forbes) Parakeet is possible too. Our landing on the main Chatham Island will allow us to visit a native forest reserve. This archipelago has been isolated for thousands of years and both the birds and plants show a high degree of endemism. During our birding excursion we should see Chatham Island and Pitt Island Shags, along with Chatham Island Warbler and Pigeon.

Days 17-18: At sea, crossing the Chatham Rise, our last few days of sea-watching. This leg can be good for cetaceans too, such as Gray’s Beaked Whale.

Day 19: Disembark Dunedin after breakfast. Bus transfer into city and airport.

NB Exact itinerary subject to weather and sea conditions. 

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

Dates: 13th November – 1st December 2019 & 12th – 30th November 2020 (Bluff to Dunedin)

Leader/s: The ship’s expedition team.


Enquire for up to date prices                 

Deposit: 25%

Price includes: Voyage with accommodation as booked, including all meals, tea/coffee, shore excursions, lectures and services of the onboard expedition team, day by day bird and mammal checklist, transfers hotel to ship, ship to airport.  

Price excludes: Landing fees and port taxes (currently US$500, payable onboard the ship), return economy class flights from £1049pp (London – Anadyr – London via Moscow*), pre/post cruise hotel nights if required, travel insurance, onboard gratuities (suggest US$10 per day), Russian visa (c£98) and other drinks. 

Spirit of Enderby (Prof Khromov) Russian, former research vessel carrying up to 54 passengers. Officers and crew professional and friendly. Western expedition staff. Comfortable with good food. A real expedition feel. All cabins with portholes or windows. The most pioneering expedition vessel currently out on the oceans, she often conducts voyages of true exploration and is also one of the last of the well-loved “Molchanov’ class of ships.

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    “We are back from trip to Antarctica and it was absolutely amazing!!! We had the time of our lives. Everything was just excellent, excursions, wildlife….everything was way better than expected. I wanted to thank you for all your help through the booking process and all the information you gave us. We are already telling all our friends not to hesitate to contact you. Thank you again for everything!” 

    Antarctica A.H.J March 2012


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