Tuesday 6th October – Tuesday 20th October 2020
Leader: Mark Van Beirs.
||Group Size Limit 12
Tuesday 4th October – Tuesday 18th October 2022
Leader: Birdquest leader to be announced
||Group Size Limit 12
Birdquest’s Pitcairn, Henderson & Tuamotu Islands birding tours are one of those epic birding tours to the back of beyond where we always wonder whether the next trip will be the last, simply because finding a boat available to do this remote islands cruise is far from certain. Our Pitcairn, Henderson & Tuamotu Islands birding tour is a remarkable journey that takes in islands that really are a tropical paradise, with extraordinary seabirds (so tame you can almost touch them), trusting little Tuamotu Sandpipers and many other wonderful endemics of this largely uninhabited and very special ‘Edge of the World’ place.
This tour can be taken together with: FRENCH POLYNESIA & COOK ISLANDS
How many chances does one have to visit a scattering of largely uninhabited tropical islands where deserted white sand beaches are fringed with luxuriant vegetation, haunted by rarely seen endemics, and the seas are enlivened by a host of little-known seabirds? Not many, but here is one fantastic opportunity! Add into the mix the romance and violence of the Mutiny on the Bounty story, the classic, real-life tale of putting love before duty and its tragic consequences, and you have something extraordinarily alluring.
The Polynesian triangle between Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island stretches about 8000 kilometres across the central Pacific Ocean. This vast area is dotted with numerous tropical islands, many of them of volcanic origin and never connected to the continents. Amongst this scattering of tiny isolated dots on the map of the world, there are two broad island types: the first being the high volcanic islands where erosion has produced gentle windward slopes that often contrast with the steep and rugged leeward cliffs, frequently encircled by fringing reefs. The second consists of the low-lying islands, mostly coral atolls or raised former atolls. Both island types have evolved endemic birds, reptiles, plants and insects, the existence of many of which is under threat from introduced rats and human activity, and during our travels we shall explore fascinating examples of each.
This exciting journey focuses on some of the rarest and most exciting island birds in the entire Pacific region. French Polynesia covers a vast expanse of the South Pacific, equivalent to a region stretching from Finland to Spain! Its farthest flung outposts are the remote Gambier Islands at the eastern end of the Tuamotu Archipelago, and still more remote, far beyond the Gambiers, are Pitcairn, Henderson and Oeno islands.
We will be cruising amongst the Pitcairn islands and Tuamotu islands on MV Braveheart, a well equipped supply vessel, 39 metres (128 feet) in length, with capacity for 12 passengers plus expedition leader and crew. Braveheart has been converted for expedition-style cruising and other purposes and is based in New Zealand. The vessel has air-conditioned twin-berth cabins and there are two toilets and two showers. She has modern safety equipment and two naiads (inflatables with rigid hulls) for making landings in remote areas. There is a fairly spacious dining area and a smaller lounge/library area with DVD player, power points for computers etc. A large, shaded area on the deck is excellent for seawatching. She offers much more space and comfort than the yachts we have previously used in the area and is the perfect kind of vessel for an expedition-style cruise of this nature.
On the way to join this expedition you will travel via Tahiti, the largest and highest of the Society Islands. Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, is a cosmopolitan city with over 100,000 people and will provide a great contrast with sparsely inhabited or uninhabited islands you are soon to visit. Here, on this beautiful island, many of the Bounty’s crew fell for the local ladies, and from here they eventually set sail to seek refuge from the King’s justice on remote Pitcairn Island.
From Papeete we will travel far to the southeast, to Mangaréva in the remote Gambier Islands of easternmost French Polynesia. Here we will board our vessel and set sail for the end of the world, or so it will seem to us.
First we will explore famous Pitcairn Island, last refuge of the Bounty mutineers, their Tahitian ladies and some male relatives (the ancestral mix of today’s Pitcairn islanders), where Pitcairn Reed Warbler will be the main target.
Moving on to uninhabited Henderson Island, we will be looking for the fearless Henderson Island Crake, Henderson Island Fruit Dove, the stunning Stephen’s Lorikeet and Henderson Reed Warbler, while on Oeno we will see an extraordinary seabird colony at eyeball to eyeball distance.
After we leave the Pitcairn islands group behind, we will explore the Actaeon Group in the easternmost Tuamotus in French Polynesia we will visit Tenararo, home to that Holy Grail of Pacific birding, the extraordinary little Tuamotu Sandpiper (surely one of the most endearing birds of the trip). Considered one of the rarest shorebirds in the world, this unusual endemic species is most definitely a long-dreamed-of bird for many people. Tenararo is also the haunt of Atoll Fruit Dove, the delightful Polynesian Ground-Dove and the endangered Bristle-thighed Curlew (another of the world’s rarest shorebirds, the majority of which winter in the Tuamotus).
To cap it all, as we sail between these tiny specks in the vastness of the Pacific, we are going to see the most glorious collection of tropical and subtropical seabirds possible, including Tahiti, Phoenix, Murphy’s, Kermadec, Herald, Henderson and Juan Fernandez Petrels, Christmas and Tropical Shearwaters, Polynesian Storm Petrel, Red-tailed and White-tailed Tropicbirds, Masked, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Spectacled (or Grey-backed), Sooty and Common White Terns, and Black, Brown, Grey and perhaps Blue Noddies, plus a selection of visitors to the area such as Juan Fernandez, Collared and Cape Petrels, and perhaps White-bellied Storm Petrel.
All in all, this is a remarkable opportunity to explore one of the most remote and least touched places on planet Earth today, and see some of our world’s most seldom-seen birds! Put simply, this wonderful voyage is sheer magic!
Birdquest has operated Pitcairn islands birding tours and Tuamotu islands birding tours since 2008.
Accommodation: For details of Braveheart, please see the tour introduction. Kindly note that, as there are so few cabins, it may be necessary to have male/female sharing in one cabin if the boat is full. Bookings are only accepted on the basis that you will consent if this is necessary.
Walking: The walking effort during our Pitcairn, Henderson & Tuamotu Islands birding tour is easy to moderate.
Climate: Warm or hot and humid. Occasional rain is likely. At sea it can feel noticeably cooler, especially early and late in the day.
Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Pitcairn, Henderson & Tuamotu Islands birding tour are very good.
Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.
Deposit: Initial deposit 5% of the tour price. Second deposit (due 18 months prior to departure) 25%. If you are booking less than 18 months before departure the deposit is 30%.
Deposits for this special tour are non-refundable. Kindly note that the balance due will be invoiced around 5 months before departure for payment within 14 days.
TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates and deposit amount)
£8130, $10160, €8940, NZD15560. Mangareva/Mangareva.2022:
provisional £8360, $10450, €9190, NZD15990. Mangareva/Mangareva.Single Supplement: 2020:
£8130, $10160, €8940, NZD15560.Single Supplement: 2022:
£8360, $10450, €9190, NZD15990.
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.
This tour is priced in New Zealand Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.
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.