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THE SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS OF NEW ZEALAND & AUSTRALIA

The Ultimate in ‘Birding Down Under’

New Zealand Birding Tours: our Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand bird watching and wildlife holiday is undoubtedly the best trip for seabirds on Earth! Numbers and variety are quite extraordinary, ranging from huge albatrosses to tiny storm-petrels and diving-petrels. Our Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand birding tour offers the best coverage, visiting the Snares, the Aucklands, Macquarie (Australia), Campbell, the Antipodes, the Bounty Islands and the Chathams, recording the great majority of the endemic landbirds as well.

Wednesday 13th November — Sunday 1st December 2019
(19 days)


THERE ARE ADDITIONAL DEPARTURES TO THE SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS BETWEEN DECEMBER AND JANUARY. PLEASE CONTACT US FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.

Leaders: Chris Collins and other Heritage Expeditions leaders

Group Size Limit: 15

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

For seabird enthusiasts, this has to be one of the greatest experiences possible on earth - nowhere will you see more penguins and albatrosses! This Royal Penguin is emerging from the surf on Macquarie Island, the southernmost poin to our epic journey (Pete Morris)

For seabird enthusiasts, this has to be one of the greatest experiences possible on earth - nowhere will you see more penguins and albatrosses! This Royal Penguin is emerging from the surf on Macquarie Island, the southernmost poin to our epic journey (Pete Morris)

The subantarctic islands of New Zealand and Australia are amongst the most isolated and least known places in the world. There are seven groups of islands in the region. The Chatham Islands, the Bounty Islands, Antipodes Island, Campbell Island, the Auckland Islands and Snares Island are sovereign territories of New Zealand, while Macquarie Island is a territory of Australia.

These islands all differ markedly in size and form and have contrasting vegetation. They are important refuges for a wide range of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. They are also breeding grounds for the countless seabirds and marine mammals that range over vast areas of the Southern Ocean. All the islands have been designated as nature reserves – the highest form of legal protection that can be given to a natural area by the governments of New Zealand and Australia. The integrity of these remote islands and their natural values is maintained through strict controls on entry. Visitor numbers are restricted and only 600 visitors a year are allowed to land in the New Zealand subantarctic islands and only 1000 at Macquarie Island. There are further restrictions on the number allowed ashore at any one time or on any one day.

Our subantarctic islands expedition includes landings on the Auckland Islands, Macquarie Island, Campbell Island and the Chatham Islands, and zodiac cruises at Snares Island, Antipodes Island and the Bounty Islands. With a maximum of only 48 passengers plus staff on the expedition we are well within the allowable daily limits and everyone can go ashore at one time. The result is that we can spend entire days, not hours, ashore on some of the most remarkable islands in the world. This specially extended itinerary provides the most comprehensive cruise around the subantarctic islands that is available and will allow participants to experience for themselves the full range of the wonderful birdlife, other aspects of natural history and scenery that these fascinating islands have to offer.

The birdlife of the subantarctic islands is dominated by their spectacular seabirds. Indeed, this voyage is indisputably ‘The World’s Ultimate Pelagic’. In no other place can you experience the sheer number of albatrosses (no fewer than 14 species!), petrels and other tubenoses that you can here!

Quite a number are endemic (at least as breeding species) to the subantarctic and temperate regions of Australasia, including Snares (Crested), Erect-crested, Royal, Yellow-eyed and Little Penguins, Gibson’s, Antipodean, Northern Royal, Southern Royal (we will visit the world’s largest colony and be able to watch displaying birds at close range), Northern Buller’s (or Pacific), Southern Buller’s (or Buller’s), Salvin’s, Chatham and Campbell Albatrosses, Cook’s, Mottled, Chatham and Westland Petrels, the critically endangered Magenta Petrel (which has been seen on several Birdquest visits to the area), Buller’s, Hutton’s and Subantarctic Shearwaters, and Chatham, Campbell, Auckland, Bounty, Pitt and Macquarie Shags.

Many other seabirds occur in the area, including King, Gentoo and Southern Rockhopper Penguins, Wandering (or Snowy), White-capped, Black-browed, Grey-headed and Light-mantled (Sooty) Albatrosses, Southern Giant, Northern Giant, Blue, White-headed and Soft-plumaged Petrels, Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters, Fulmar, Fairy, Antarctic and Broad-billed Prions, White-faced, Wilson’s, Black-bellied and Grey-backed Storm Petrels, and Common Diving Petrel.

The subantarctic islands also have some interesting landbirds, some of which are endemic, and in particular we shall be hoping to see Campbell Teal, Auckland Teal, Chatham Island Oystercatcher, the strange Shore Dotterel (or Shore Plover), Subantarctic Snipe (both the Auckland Islands form and the ultra-rare Campbell Islands form, which may well be split in future), Chatham Pigeon, Antipodes Parakeet, Reischek’s Parakeet and Chatham Gerygone.

Marine mammals are also a feature of the area and we should see large numbers of New Zealand (or Hooker’s) Sealions, impressive Southern Elephant Seals and New Zealand Fur Seals, and an assortment of cetaceans.

We shall be sailing on the Professor Khromov (capacity 48 passengers), a ship operated by Heritage Expeditions (who call her Spirit of Enderby). Ships of this class are Finnish-built vessels under Russian registry that were built in the 1980s and early 1990s under commission from the Academy of Sciences in Moscow. They were originally intended for oceanographic research, but were subsequently adapted for expedition-style cruising following the financial cutbacks that later affected all formerly Soviet research programmes. These ships are, of course, not ‘cruise ships’ in the traditional manner and will appeal most to those for whom exploring wild places and enjoying wild nature, rather than enjoying luxurious surroundings and ‘black-tie’ dinners with the officers, is the prime attraction.

Cabins are furnished with two berths and have some storage space and an outside view (many having en-suite bathroom facilities). Public facilities include restaurant, lounge/bar, lecture facilities and library. Food is plentiful, of good quality, mostly waiter-served and prepared by experienced chefs. The ship carries a complement of expedition staff, including one or more naturalists, who guide shore excursions (and point out seabirds and cetaceans at sea in the case of the birders/naturalists among them) and give informal talks on the environment, wildlife and history of the region.

As much of the sailing as possible is done at night, thus maximizing opportunities for going ashore and enjoying the beautiful subantarctic landscape to the full. Landings are carried out by means of a fleet of zodiacs or naiads, the rugged, fast-moving type of inflatables that were first developed by Jacques Cousteau for expedition work and which allow safe landings on remote coastlines in all types of conditions. The speed and efficiency with which the crew carry out these landings, coupled with the small complement of passengers, allows everyone plenty of time ashore. Further information about the cruise, including photographs and details of the ship layout, including cabin layouts, are available on the Heritage Expeditions website (www.heritage-expeditions.com).

The great advantage of taking this particular cruise, if you are especially interested in seeing the subantarctic islands’ fantastic wildlife, is that the itinerary and day to day schedule are strongly wildlife-orientated, and Heritage Expeditions always have at least one experienced birder/ornithologist amongst their expedition leaders.

Birdquest has operated tours to the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia since 1998.

Important: This cruise is sometimes operated in reverse, commencing at Dunedin and ending at Invercargill.

Accommodation & Road Transport:The hotel in is of good standard. For details of the ship, see the introductory section. Road transfers are by coach.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are a few optional harder walks.

Climate: Quite mild at this season. Temperatures range from cool to warm in the north of the subantarctic islands region and from cool to fairly cold in the south (although even in the south it can feel relatively warm on a sunny day if there is no wind). It feels decidedly cold on windy days at sea in the far south, however! Sunny spells are interspersed with (often longer) overcast periods and some rain is to be expected. In mainland New Zealand the weather is generally similar in character, but temperatures are typically quite warm at this time of year.

Bird/Sea Mammal Photography: Opportunities are outstanding.

Important: Landings on some of the subantarctic islands are by permit only as administered by the Governments of New Zealand and Australia, and on rare occasions permits are refused. It is also important to bear in mind that circumstances may be encountered during the voyage which will make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the planned itinerary. These circumstances include poor weather conditions and unexpected opportunities for making additional zodiac excursions. The ship’s expedition leader will provide more information at the start of the voyage and keep us fully informed throughout. While as many landings as possible will be made, almost none of these are crucial in terms of actually seeing the local birdlife, which can almost invariably be seen from the ship or during an inshore zodiac excursion. Sometimes the cruise departure/arrival points in New Zealand may alter, but normally plenty of notice is provided.

Prices and dates are provisional

Tour Price: For Invercargill/Dunedin arrangements, including one night accommodation in Invercargill:

£7759 or $11250 (€9534) in a Main Deck triple-berth cabin with shared bathroom facilities

£8379 or $12150 (€10297) in a Main Deck twin-berth cabin with shared bathroom facilities

£9414 or $13650 (€11568) in a Superior Cabin with private bathroom

£10138 or $14700 (€12458) in a Superior Plus Cabin with private bathroom

£10621 or $15400 (€13051) in a Mini Suite with private bathroom

£11379 or $16500 (€13983) in an Heritage Suite with private bathroom.

In addition, there will be a charge to cover the landing fees levied by the local governments of £552 or $800 (€678) per person.

Kindly note that this tour is priced in Pounds and US Dollars. Please note that prices in Pounds are fixed and will not vary if the exchange rate between the Pound and the US Dollar changes.

Prices in Euros are only indicative and based on the exchange rate prevailing at the time of calculation: €1 = US$ 1.180. If you are paying in Euros your deposit and final balance payment due will be calculated according to the exchange rate prevailing at the time.

Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, some soft drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, leader services.

Gratuities for the expedition staff and crew, the taxi transfer to the hotel, and any fuel surcharge that may be imposed by the ship operator, are not included in the tour price. Gratuities are entirely at your discretion. The staff work very long hours to make such cruises a success, including a great deal of night sailing, and we have been told that most passengers give gratuities of around US$180-270 for such an 18 days cruise.

Single Cabin/Room Supplement: Single occupancy of most cabins can be obtained in return for an 80% supplement on top of the cruise-only price (but suites require a 100% supplement); this supplement also entitles you to single room accommodation at the pre-cruise hotel. Please note that if you are willing to share but no cabin-mate is available you will not have to pay the single occupancy supplement.

Deposit: 25% of the tour price (including any single supplement).

If you are paying the deposit in Euros rather than in US Dollars or Pounds Sterling, please contact us before sending payment so that we can provide you with the appropriate figure based on the current exchange rate.

Kindly note that the balance due will be invoiced around 5 months before departure for payment not later than 120 days before departure.

Cancellation Charges: For cancellations made 180 days or more before departure, the cancellation charge is US$850 per person or equivalent. For cancellations made 91-179 days before departure, the cancellation charge is 100% of the deposit paid. For cancellations made 1-90 days before departure, or on the day of departure or later, the cancellation charge is 100% of the tour price.

Important: Owing to the possibility, however small, of a severe airline delay, we would recommend that all participants not already in New Zealand have two nights in Christchurch before the cruise. Kindly note that in the event you do not arrive in time, the ship will not wait and neither the cruise operator nor ourselves can make a refund in such circumstances. Arriving a day early also has the advantage that your luggage could still catch up with you, should it go astray. We can make hotel bookings for you on request.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The rare Shore Plover is one of the key birds during our visit to the Chatham Islands, where a good population still exists on some of the predator-free islands such as Southeast Island (Pete Morris)

The rare Shore Plover is one of the key birds during our visit to the Chatham Islands, where a good population still exists on some of the predator-free islands such as Southeast Island (Pete Morris)

30 photos View Gallery Photos From THE SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS OF NEW ZEALAND & AUSTRALIA
Albatrosses are extremely representative and this is just a few of the species we'll see. This is the rare Chatham Albatross (Pete Morris)

Albatrosses are extremely representative and this is just a few of the species we'll see. This is the rare Chatham Albatross (Pete Morris)

... the graceful Light-mantled Albatross (Pete Morris)

... the graceful Light-mantled Albatross (Pete Morris)

... the huge Southern Royal Albatross (Pete Morris)

... the huge Southern Royal Albatross (Pete Morris)

... and the as yet undescribed Pacific Albatross (possibly just a subspecies of Buller's Albatross) (Pete Morris)

... and the as yet undescribed Pacific Albatross (possibly just a subspecies of Buller's Albatross) (Pete Morris)

Other ocean wanderers such as this White-headed Petrel are plentiful (Pete Morris)

Other ocean wanderers such as this White-headed Petrel are plentiful (Pete Morris)

Snares Island Penguin (Pete Morris)

Snares Island Penguin (Pete Morris)

... and Erect-crested Penguin are both endemic to the area (Pete Morris)

... and Erect-crested Penguin are both endemic to the area (Pete Morris)

Doey-eyed Southern Elephant Seals are a common sight on Macquarie Island (Pete Morris)

Doey-eyed Southern Elephant Seals are a common sight on Macquarie Island (Pete Morris)

Whilst on Enderby Island in the Auckland group, we can expect Auckland Island Teal (Pete Morris)

Whilst on Enderby Island in the Auckland group, we can expect Auckland Island Teal (Pete Morris)

... Auckland Island Shag (one of several endemic shags we'll see) (Pete Morris)

... Auckland Island Shag (one of several endemic shags we'll see) (Pete Morris)

... and the highly-sought Subantarctic Snipe (Pete Morris)

... and the highly-sought Subantarctic Snipe (Pete Morris)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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