Birding Down Under aboard Heritage Adventurer

Birding Down Under aboard Heritage Adventurer

From USD $13,675


Listen to the names: Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, Campbell, Macquarie and Chatham Islands. They are music to the ears of nature lovers, adventurers and birders alike. Apart from the Chathams, these islands are probably more isolated now than they were when they were discovered in the late 1700s and early 1800s and were regularly visited by sealers, whalers and government steamers searching for castaway sailors. Opportunities to visit these islands are rare. This expedition is one of rare opportunities to explore all of these islands.

The islands occupy the tempestuous latitudes of the Roaring Forties and the Furious Fifties, but they are also known as the Albatross Latitudes and with good reason. Ten of the world’s albatross species breed in the region; five of them nowhere else. In fact, this region hosts the most diverse collection of seabirds in the world. More than 40 species breed here – that is at least 11 per cent of the entire world’s seabird species.

With the exception of the Chathams, the islands are all designated UNESCO World Heritage sites and are afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments, so passage to their shores is not granted lightly. There are also islands that we visit within the Chatham Islands’ Archipelago with similar status and protection.

As one of the greatest natural history voyages on the planet this expedition has huge appeal to pelagic enthusiasts, penguin fanatics, those interested in island endemics and photographers. People interested in islands and island ecology, botany, geology and photographers and those with an adventurous spirit have enjoyed this trip immensely, as have those interested in the history of southern ocean discovery and exploration.

This is one of our ‘signature expeditions’ which has operated annually for more than 20 years, so you will benefit from the knowledge and expertise gained over that time.

Trip Name
Birding Down Under aboard Heritage Adventurer
Vessel Type: Expedition Ship Length: 124 metres Passenger Capacity: 140 Built: 1991 Heritage Adventurer is a true pioneering expedition vessel of exceptional pedigree. Often referred to as the ‘Grande Dame of Polar Exploration’ due to her celebrated history and refined design, she was purpose-built for adventure in 1991 at Finland’s Rauma shipyard and specifically designed for Polar exploration.Setting a peerless standard in authentic expedition travel, Heritage Adventurer (formerly known as MS Hanseatic) combines the highest passenger ship ice-class rating (1A Super) with an impressive history of Polar exploration. Having held records for the most northern and southern Arctic and Antarctic navigations, and for traversing both the Northwest and Northeast Passages, makes Heritage Adventurer perfect for pioneering New Zealand-based Heritage Expeditions signature experiential expedition travel.Originally designed to accommodate 184 guests, Heritage Adventurer now welcomes just 140 expeditioners ensuring spacious, stylish and comfortable voyages, while a fleet of 14 Zodiacs ensures all guests are able to maximise their expedition adventure. Heritage Adventurer proudly continues our traditions of exceptional, personalised expedition experiences as Heritage Expeditions flagship. Observation Lounge – One of the most celebrated and best-known features of Heritage Adventurer is the awe-inducing Observation Lounge, Library and Bar. Located on Deck 7 and perched directly above the Bridge, enjoy sweeping 270-degree views through floor to ceiling windows, perfect for wildlife spotting and quick access to the outer deck. Bring your binoculars to spot wildlife, observe the ever-changing landscape, write in your journal or relax with a book. Observation Deck – Enjoy 360-degree views from the highest point on the ship. The Observation Deck sits above the Observation Lounge and provides exceptional outside viewing options. Stretching the full width of the vessel, this is the perfect spot to take in the surrounding land and seascapes. Perfect on a sunny day, recline in the comfortable sun loungers protected from the wind and elements and watch your voyage unfold.  The Bridge – No expedition is complete without visiting Heritage Adventurer’s busy nerve centre. Located on Deck 6, Heritage Expeditions’ Open Bridge Policy means you are welcome to observe the Captain and crew at work while enjoying some of the ship’s best views. It’s a fascinating place to learn about navigation and vessel operations, however please note the Bridge will be closed when departing or arriving at port. Dining Room  – Indulge in fine international cuisine from our talented chefs in the lavish surrounds of our Dining Room on Deck 4. Sensational 270-degree views provide a stunning backdrop to meals here along with an international wine list featuring many outstanding regional wines. With relaxed seating arrangements, all guests can enjoy dining in a single sitting from hearty breakfasts setting you up for the day’s adventure to sumptuous lunches and multi-course evening dining. Bistro  – Simple fast and delicious meals and snacks are on offer in our relaxed Bistro on Deck 6. Perfect for early risers to enjoy tea, coffee and light breakfast options the Bistro provides great views and opens directly onto a covered and heated teak-deck outdoor dining area. The Bar and Lounge  – The social hub of  Heritage Adventurer, the Bar and Lounge on Deck 5 features seating for all guests. Enjoy a beverage at the bar, sink into an armchair, relax on one of the many spacious loungers and watch the world go by through the panoramic windows or make new friends at the communal seating. This multi-tasking space also doubles as the location of daily briefings and evening recaps with the expedition team. The Gym – Featuring spectacular ocean views, the well-equipped gym is adjacent to the pool, hot tub and sauna in Deck 7’s wellbeing zone. Maintain your routine with an elliptical cross trainer, treadmill, rowing machine, stationary bikes, TRX as well as free weights, yoga mats and fitness balls. Towels are provided with change room and shower amenities nearby. Sauna and Steam Room – True to her Nordic origins, Heritage Adventurer features a dry-heat Finnish sauna and European steam room on Deck 7. Perfect for warming up post Polar plunge or unwinding after a day’s adventures, the sauna and steam room include change room facilities, showers and towels. Swimming Pool and Hot Tub – Surrounded by relaxed teak seating including sun loungers, the open-air saltwater pool can be heated or chilled. Encased in glass the hot tub ensures all-weather use, perfect for those who like to relax with a view following a day of exploring. Lectures and Presentations – Enjoy informative and entertaining lectures on history, biology, wildlife, and ecology in the comfort of the Presentation Theatre. With state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, our world-renowned expedition team will bring your adventure to life through interactive presentations and discussions.


Day 1 - Day 1: Queenstown
Guests should make their way tothe designated hotel where wewill spend the first night of theexpedition. This evening there willbe an informal get-together atthe hotel for dinner; an excellentopportunity to meet fellowadventurers on your voyage andsome of our expedition team.
Day 2 - Day 2: Port of Bluff
Today we enjoy breakfast inthe hotel restaurant and havethe morning free to exploreQueenstown before returning tothe hotel for lunch and departingfor the Port of Bluff to embark yourship. You will have time to settleinto your cabin and familiariseyourself with the ship; we will alsotake the opportunity to introduceyou to your expedition team andour voyage plans. You are invitedto join the expedition team in theObservation Lounge and up onthe Observation Deck as we setour course to The Snares and ouradventure begins.
Day 3 - Day 3: The Snares – North East Island
The closest Subantarctic Islandsto New Zealand, they wereappropriately called The Snaresas they were once considereda hazard for sailing ships.Uninhabited, they enjoy thehighest protection as NatureReserves. It is claimed by somethat these islands are home tomore nesting seabirds than all ofthe British Isles together. We plan toarrive early in the morning and aslandings are not permitted we willZodiac cruise along the shelteredeastern side of the main island ifweather conditions are suitable.In the sheltered bays, we should see the endemic Snares CrestedPenguin, Snares Island Tomtit andFernbirds. There are hundreds ofthousands of Sooty Shearwatersnesting on The Snares; the actualnumber is much debated.
Day 4 - Day 4: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island
The Auckland Islands groupwas formed by two volcanoeswhich erupted some 10-25million years ago. They havesubsequently been eroded anddissected by glaciation creatingthe archipelago as we knowit today. Enderby Island is oneof the most beautiful islands inthis group and is named for thedistinguished shipping family.This northern most island in thearchipelago is an outstandingwildlife and birding location andis relatively easy to land on andwalk around. The island wascleared of all introduced animals(pests) in 1994 and both birds andthe vegetation, especially theherbaceous plants, are recoveringboth in numbers and diversity.Our plan is to land at Sandy Bay,one of three breeding areasin the Auckland Islands for theHooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion,a rare member of the seal family.Beachmaster bulls gather on thebeach defending their haremsand mating with the cows shortlyafter they have given birth of asingle pup. During our day ashore therewill be several options, somelonger walks, some shorter walksand time to spend just sittingand enjoying the wildlife. Thewalking is relatively easy, aboard walk traverses the islandto the dramatic western cliffsfrom there we follow the coaston the circumnavigation of theisland. Birds that we are likely toencounter include the followingspecies: Southern Royal Albatross,Northern Giant Petrel, AucklandIsland Shag, Auckland IslandFlightless Teal, Auckland IslandBanded Dotterel, AucklandIsland Tomtit, Bellbird, Pipit, Red-crowned Parakeet, Yellow-eyedPenguin and Light-mantledSooty Albatross. There is also avery good chance of seeing theSubantarctic Snipe.
Day 5 - Day 5: At Sea
As we make our way souththrough the Furious Fifties alsoknown as the Albatross latitudes,the birding especially south ofthe Auckland Islands should begood. We will have a series ofpresentations on the biologyand history of the Subantarctic Islands. We will also prepare youfor our visit to Macquarie Island.Species that we may see includethe Wandering Albatross, RoyalAlbatross, Black-browed Albatross,Light-mantled Sooty Albatross,Salvin’s Albatross, Grey-headedAlbatross, Northern and SouthernGiant Petrel, Sooty Shearwaterand Little Shearwater. There shouldbe plenty of prions including Fairy,Fulmar and Antarctic, identifyingthem is not easy – but we shouldget some great views. Otherspecies to be on the lookout forinclude the Soft-plumaged Petrel,Mottled Petrel, White-headedPetrel, Grey-faced Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Grey-backedStorm-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petreland Black-bellied Storm-Petrel.
Day 6 - Days 6 to 7: Macquarie Island
The great Australian AntarcticExplorer Sir Douglas Mawson oncecalled Macquarie Island “One ofthe wonder spots of the world.”You are about to discover why aswe spend two days exploring thisamazing Island. It was one of thefirst of the Subantarctic Islands toobtain World Heritage Status andthat was largely due to its uniquegeology. It is one of the fewplaces on earth where mid-oceancrustal rocks are exposed at thesurface due to the collision ofthe Australian and Pacific Plates.The island was discovered in 1810and was soon ravaged by sealers who introduced various animalsincluding rats, mice, cats andrabbits. The native bird populationwas virtually eliminated and plantsdestroyed. The Tasmanian NationalParks and Wildlife Service whichadministered the island recentlyembarked on a very ambitiouseradication program whichappears to have been successful.The island is now predator freeand both the birds and plants areresponding. It is amazing to witnessthe regeneration and the increasein the number of birds.Macquarie Island is home to fourspecies of penguin, Kings, Royals,Gentoo and Rockhopper. TheRoyal Penguin occurs nowhere elsein the world. During our visit we willland at two sites (subject of courseto weather and sea conditions)and you will get a chance to see,observe and photograph all fourspecies, although the Rockhopperis much harder to capture thanthe others. Macquarie also hasa large population of SouthernElephant Seals. Pups are bornin October and weaned inNovember when the breedingadults return to sea. The weanersand sub adults lie around on thebeaches. The weaners go to seasometime in January, running thegauntlet of Orcas or Killer Whaleswho are waiting offshore. Weplan a landing at the AustralianAntarctic Research Base at Buckles Bay where you will be able tomeet with scientists and basestaff. The original base wasestablished in 1947 and theisland has been ‘manned’ sincethen. It is one of the longestcontinuously occupied bases inthe Subantarctic.
Day 7 - Day 8: At Sea
At sea en route to CampbellIsland and time to unwind afterthe adventures of MacquarieIsland. Look for cetaceansand albatross, join a lecture orcatch up on your photos andjournaling.
Day 8 - Day 9: Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbour
Today we explore CampbellIsland, New Zealand’ssouthernmost Subantarcticterritory. Its history is as rich andvaried as the other islands wehave visited. Discovered in 1810(by the same sealing captainwho discovered MacquarieIsland) it too was soon occupiedby sealers who introduced ratsand cats which have since beeneradicated. The vegetationwhich the great English botanist,Sir Joseph Hooker described in1841 as having a “Flora displaysecond to none outside thetropics” is now flourishing and isnothing short of spectacular.We will offer a number ofoptions which will enable youto explore the island. There willbe extended walks towardsNorthwest Bay. There will alsobe an easier walk to the ColLyall Saddle. All of these optionswill allow you the opportunityand time to enjoy the SouthernRoyal Albatross which nesthere in large numbers. We alsovisit areas of the island whichcontain outstanding examplesof the megaherbs for whichthe island is renowned. Otherbirds which we will search for include the teal and snipe, andthe endemic shag can be seenon the harbour. Other birds weshould see include Light-mantledSooty Albatross, Northern GiantPetrel, Southern Skua, Red-billedGull, Black-backed Gull, AntarcticTern, Redpoll, Dunnock and NewZealand Pipit.
Day 9 - Day 10: At Sea
At sea en route to the Antipodes,it is a day for pelagic birding.Species commonly seen in thisarea include Wandering Albatrossspecies, Southern Royal Albatross,Black-browed Albatross,Campbell Island Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’sAlbatross, Grey-headed Albatross,Northern and Southern GiantPetrel, the Sooty Shearwater and the Little Shearwater. This region ofthe Southern Ocean is one of thefew places where the Fairy Prion,Fulmar Prion and Antarctic Prionoccur together, providing a goodopportunity for comparison. Otherspecies to be on the lookout forinclude the Soft-plumaged Petrel,Mottled Petrel, White-headedPetrel, Grey-faced Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Grey-backedStorm-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel,Black-bellied Storm-Petrel and theCommon Diving-Petrel.
Day 10 - Day 11: Antipodes Islands
The Antipodes group of islands isthe most isolated and perhapsthe least known of New Zealand’sSubantarctic Islands. Sealers livedhere in the decades immediatelyafter their discovery in 1806. Miceare the only introduced animal onthe islands but efforts to eradicatethem will hopefully see that theirdays are numbered. The islandsare of volcanic origin, but areheavily eroded especially thewestern shoreline. The largest ofthe group is Antipodes Island.Landings are not permitted so weplan to cruise, along the coastlineby Zodiac where we have a goodchance of seeing the AntipodesParakeet, the largest of New Zealand’s parakeets. This specieshas an entirely green head. Wewill also look for the Reischek’sParakeet, a subspecies of theRed-crowned Parakeet found inthe Auckland Islands and on theChatham Islands. We also see theAntipodes subspecies of the NewZealand Pipit. Good views of bothErect-crested and RockhopperPenguins can be expected alongthe coast where they often breedin mixed colonies.
Day 11 - Day 12: Bounty Islands
We arrive at the incongruouslynamed Bounty Islands, the remotenorthernmost of the five NewZealand Subantarctic groups; theywere discovered by Captain Blighjust months before the infamousmutiny. Here inhospitable graniteknobs, tips of the submergedBounty Platform, are lashed by theSouthern Ocean. They are hometo thousands of Salvin’s Albatross,Erect-crested Penguins, FulmarPrions and the endemic BountyIsland Shag – the world’s rarest. Weplan to arrive in the early morningand if conditions are suitablewe will cruise by Zodiac aroundthe granite outposts to take acloser look at the birds whichbreed there. New Zealand FurSeals which were almost huntedto extinction in the SubantarcticIslands are present in largenumbers.Sailing towards the ChathamIslands there are opportunities tosee a good selection of birdlifeas we sail. These should includeWandering Albatross, NorthernRoyal Albatross, Mottled Petrel,Soft-plumaged Petrel, Broad-billedPrion, White-chinned Petrel andBlack-bellied Storm-Petrel as well asWilson’s Storm-Petrel. Other possiblesightings include White-cappedAlbatross, Northern Giant Petrel,Cape Petrel, Antarctic Fulmar,Sooty Shearwater, Little Shearwater and Grey-backed Storm-Petrel.We will also start to keep a lookoutfor the Chatham Island Petrel.
Day 12 - Day 13: Pyramid Rock and South East Island
As we continue toward theChatham Archipelago, thereare excellent opportunitiesfor pelagic birding today. Inparticular, we will look out forthe Chatham Island Petrel whichhas been seen on this leg of thevoyage before. In the past wehave observed the very rareChatham Island Taiko in this area.Endemic to the Chatham Islands,the Chatham Island Taiko – alsoknown as the Magenta Petrel –is among New Zealand’s mostendangered species. It is one ofthe world’s rarest seabirds with apopulation estimated to numberless than 150. This afternoon wewill cruise around spectacularPyramid Rock, a basalt outcrop south of Pitt Island. This is the onlybreeding place of the ChathamIsland Albatross.During the afternoon we arriveat South East Island. This has tobe one of the world’s greatestnature reserves and landingsare not permitted. However weshould obtain good views of thevery rare New Zealand ShorePlover and Chatham IslandOystercatcher from the Zodiacsas we cruise along the coast.We should also see the Pitt IslandShag which nests on the island.
Day 13 - Day 14: Chatham Islands – Waitangi
The Chatham Archipelagoconsists of one large island andnumerous smaller islands androcky islets. Only two of the islandsare inhabited. They representNew Zealand’s eastern mostterritory. The islands were originallysettled by East Polynesians.In the 1400s the populationbecame isolated and interestinglydeveloped its own distinct culture.The islands were discovered byEuropeans in the 1790s. Sealersand settlers followed and thenin the 1830s Maoris from NewZealand invaded killing andenslaving many of the indigenouspeople. The impact of the originalsettlers, the European and laterthe Maori people on the nativeflora and fauna was disastrous.Introduced animals, hunting, firesand land clearing wiped outmany species of endemic birds.Fortunately a number survivedon the offshore islands in thearchipelago.With a new generation hascome a new awareness anda willingness to be part of aconcerted conservation effort.A number of private reserveshave been established, a lotof replanting has taken placeand predators are beingcontrolled. Today we will visit oneof the original private reservesestablished by a local familyon the south coast of the mainisland where there is a very goodchance to see the endemicChatham Island Pigeon andWarbler. The pigeon was closeto extinction until recently, andis now in good numbers. Wewill travel by local bus to thereserve. The road takes us throughdeveloped farmland where wewill undoubtedly see numerousintroduced species and possiblythe Weka. Near our landing inWaitangi there is a good chanceof seeing the endemic ChathamIsland Shag. This afternoon wecruise back along the southcoast, this is where the onlyknown population of the Taikobreeds and also where they areattempting to establish a newpopulation of the Chatham IslandPetrel in a predator free area.We have seen both Taiko andChatham Island Petrel in this areaon previous expeditions.
Day 14 - Days 15 to 16: At Sea
En route to Bluff we will cross theChatham Rise, a large, relativelyshallowly submerged part ofthe Zealandia continent thatstretches east from near the SouthIsland of New Zealand. Nutrient-rich waters from the south mixwith warm northern waters and there is an overlap betweennorthern pelagic species andbirds from southern latitudes, sowe can expect great pelagicsightings. Species we expect toencounter include WanderingAlbatross, Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, White-cappedAlbatross and Salvin’s Albatross.Petrel species we should be ableto identify are the Northern GiantPetrel, Cape Petrel, WestlandBlack Petrel, White-chinnedPetrel, Great-winged Petrel,Grey-backed Storm-Petrel, White-faced Storm-Petrel, the Diving-Petrel and Cook’s Petrel.Additional birdlife will includespecies of shearwater seabirds.These tubenose birds fly with stiffwings and use a ‘shearing’ flighttechnique to move across wavefronts with the minimum of activeflight. Photographic opportunitiescan include Flesh-footedShearwater, Buller’s Shearwater,Sooty Shearwater and LittleShearwater. Small petrels on thehorizon and close by include FairyPrion and Broad-billed Prion. Wewill recap the highlights of ourexpedition and enjoy a farewell dinner tonight as we completethe last few miles of our journey.
Day 15 - Day 17: Invercargill/Queenstown
Early this morning we will arrivein the Port of Bluff. After a finalbreakfast and completingCustom formalities we bid farewellto our fellow voyagers and take acomplimentary coach transfer toeither Invercargill or QueenstownAirports. In case of unexpecteddelays due to weather and/orport operations we ask you not tobook any onward travel until aftermidday from Invercargill and after3pm from Queenstown.
Day 16 - Please Note:
During our voyage,circumstances may make itnecessary or desirable to deviatefrom the proposed itinerary.This can include poor weatherand opportunities for makingunplanned excursions. YourExpedition Leader will keepyou fully informed. Landings atthe Subantarctic Islands of NewZealand are by permit only asadministered by the Governmentof New Zealand. No landingsare permitted at The Snares,Antipodes or Bounties.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
03-12-202219-12-2022USD $13,675MAIN DECK TRIPLE CABINS
03-12-202219-12-2022USD $14,250SUPERIOR TRIPLE CABINS
03-12-202219-12-2022USD $15,795SUPERIOR CABINS. From
03-12-202219-12-2022USD $18,950MAIN DECK SINGLE CABINS
03-12-202219-12-2022USD $19,450WORSLEY SUITES
03-12-202219-12-2022USD $19,750SUPERIOR SINGLE CABINS
03-12-202219-12-2022USD $29,750HERITAGE SUITES


    • Enjoy The Snares & Auckland Island
    • Explore Macquarie Island
    • Discover Campbell Island
    • Visit Antipodes Islands