Galapagos of the Southern Ocean: Subantarctic Islands Expedition

Galapagos of the Southern Ocean: Subantarctic Islands Expedition

From USD $7,500


This is without doubt one of the most inspirational and informative journeys or expeditions into the Southern Ocean ecosystem that one can make anywhere in the world. Long recognised for their rich biodiversity, the Subantarctic Islands lying to the south of New Zealand are UNESCO World Heritage sites. This places them in a select group of only 180 natural sites that have been designated as ‘the most important and significant natural habitats’ on the planet. They are also afforded the highest conservation status and protection by the Australian and New Zealand governments and access to these islands is by permit only. On this expedition we offer you the unique chance to explore, photograph and understand these wonderful places in the company of some of the most knowledgeable and passionate guides.

As a young biologist, Heritage Expeditions founder Rodney Russ first visited these islands in 1972 with the New Zealand Wildlife Service. He organised New Zealand’s first commercial expedition there in 1989 and it was only natural that his family should travel with him, what wasn’t predicted was that they would join him in the business and be as passionate about the conservation of this region as he is. Now, many years and over 100 expeditions later, Rodney’s sons Aaron and Nathan continue their father’s enthusiasm and legacy for this region with Heritage Expeditions. As the original concessionaire we enjoy good relationships with the conservation departments and some of the access permits we hold are unique to these expeditions.

The name we have given to this voyage ‘Galapagos of the Southern Ocean’ reflects the astounding natural biodiversity and the importance of these islands as a wildlife refuge. (The book Galapagos of the Antarctic written by Rodney Russ and Aleks Terauds and published by Heritage Expeditions describes all of these islands in great detail.) The islands all lie in the cool temperate zone with a unique climate and are home to a vast array of wildlife including albatross, penguins, petrels, prions, shearwaters and marine mammals like sea lions, fur seals and elephant seals. The flora is equally fascinating; the majority of it being like the birds and endemic to these islands.

This renowned expedition includes four of the Subantarctic Islands, The Snares, Auckland, Macquarie and Campbell. Each one is different, and each one is unique – just like this expedition.

Trip Name
Galapagos of the Southern Ocean: Subantarctic Islands Expedition
Vessel Type: Expedition Length: 71M Passenger Capacity: 50 Built / refurbished: 1984 The identical sister ship to Spirit of Enderby, Akademik Shokalskiy is the complete expedition vessel. Built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research, Akademik Shokalskiy is fully ice strengthened and famously joined a Russian convoy of the Northeast Passage in the late 1980s, as well as completing the journey unassisted. This class of vessel is world-renowned for Polar expedition cruising because of its strength, manoeuvrability and small passenger numbers. ONBOARD FACILITIES • 2 Dining Rooms • 24-hour Tea/Coffee Station • Bar • Lounge • Sauna • Lecture Room • Fully-stocked Library • Clinic/Hospital • Ship to Shore Communications via Satellite


Day 1 - Day 1: Hobart, Australia or Dunedin, New Zealand
Arrive in Hobart, capital ofAustralia’s Island state of Tasmania.Fringed by forest this bustling porttown is rich in culture and colonialhistory, and features a renownedfoodie scene all wrapped instunning waterfront surrounds.Our group will spend the first nightof the expedition at a city hotel, thisevening there will be an informalget-together at the hotel for dinner;an excellent opportunity to meetfellow adventurers on your voyageand some of our expedition team.(Further information regarding hotelaccommodation will be confirmedwith your expedition notes).
Day 2 - Day 2: Port of Hobart
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel; acompulsory luggage security checkin the foyer this morning will also beundertaken. There maybe sometime to explore the city before acoach transports you to the Port ofHobart, after completing securityformalities on arrival at the port yourexpedition team welcomes you asyou embark Akademik Shokalskiy.There will be time to settle into yourcabin and familiarise yourself withthe ship, and we will also take theopportunity to conduct a numberof safety briefings.In the early evening we departthe Port of Hobart, once one ofAustralia’s finest deep-water portsand the centre for the SouthernOcean whaling and sealing trade;it is now a busy seaport and alsoserves as the home port for bothAustralian and French Antarcticoperations. You are invited to jointhe expedition team and captainon the bridge as we set sail acrossStorm Bay, strong winds cansometimes blow through the bay,coming straight up from Antarctica,via the Southern Ocean. We sailpast Bruny Island and the TasmanPeninsula and set our course forMacquaire Island.
Day 3 - Days 3 to 5: At Sea
As we make our way south throughthe roaring ‘40s to MacquaireIsland, we will prepare for our visit,and there will be a series of videosupported lectures on the biologyand history of the island and theSouthern Ocean.Birding opportunities may includethe Wandering Albatross, RoyalAlbatross, Black-browed Albatross,Light-mantled Sooty Albatross,Salvin’s Albatross, Grey-headedAlbatross, Northern and SouthernGiant Petrel, Sooty Shearwaterand Little Shearwater. We willendeavour to spot the Fairy Prion,Fulmar Prion and Antarctic Prion –never an easy task – but we shouldget some great views.Other species to be on the lookoutfor include the Soft-plumagedPetrel, Mottled Petrel, Whiteheaded Petrel, Grey-faced Petrel,White-chinned Petrel, Grey-backedStorm-petrel, Wilson’s Storm-petrel,Black-bellied Storm-petrel andCommon Diving-petrel.
Day 4 - Days 6 to 7: Macquarie Island
The great Australian AntarcticExplorer Sir Douglas Mawson oncecalled Macquarie Island “One of thewonder spots of the world”. You areabout to discover why as we spendtwo days exploring this amazingIsland. It was one of the first of theSubantarctic Islands to obtain WorldHeritage Status and that was largelydue to its unique geology. It is one ofthe few places on earth where midocean crustal rocks are exposed atthe surface due to the collision of theAustralian and Pacific Plates.Macca, as it is affectionately knownby its resident ranger population, wasdiscovered in 1810 and was soonravaged by sealers who introducedvarious animals including rats,mice, cats and rabbits. The nativebird population was virtuallyeliminated and plants destroyed.The Tasmanian National Parks andWildlife Service, who administerthe island, embarked on a veryambitious 7-year eradicationprogram resulting in the islandearning pest-free status in 2014.Both the birds and plants haveresponded and it is amazing towitness the regeneration and theincrease in the number of birds.Macquarie Island is home tofour species of penguin, Kings,Royals, Gentoo and Rockhopper,with the Royal Penguin occuringnowhere else in the world. Duringour visit we will land at two sites(subject of course to weatherand sea conditions) and you willget a chance to observe andphotograph all four species,although the Rockhopper is muchharder to capture than the others.Macquarie also has a largepopulation of Southern ElephantSeals. Pups are born in October andweaned in November when thebreeding adults return to sea. Theweaners and sub adults lie aroundon the beaches. The weaners go tosea sometime in January, runningthe gauntlet of Orcas or KillerWhales waiting offshore.We also plan a landing at theAustralian Antarctic Research Baseat Buckles Bay where you will beable to meet with scientists andbase staff. The original base wasestablished in 1947 and the islandhas been ‘manned’ since then. Itis one of the longest continuouslyoccupied bases in the Subantarctic.This afternoon we depart forCampbell Island.
Day 5 - Day 8: At Sea
Sailing north through the Furious Fifties,also known as the Albatross latitudes,we will have a series of informallectures on the biology and history ofthe Subantarctic Islands and preparefor our visit to Campbell 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 should getsome great views.Other species to be on the lookoutfor include the Soft-plumaged Petrel,Mottled Petrel, White-headed Petrel,Grey-faced Petrel, White-chinnedPetrel, Grey-backed Storm-petrel,Wilson’s Storm-petrel and Blackbellied Storm-petrel.
Day 6 - Days 9 to 10: Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbour
New Zealand’s southernmostSubantarctic territory, its historyis as rich and varied as the otherislands we visit. Discovered in 1810(by the same sealing captain whodiscovered Macquarie Island) it toowas soon occupied by sealers whointroduced rats and cats.In 1895 the New Zealand governmentadvertised the island as a pastorallease. The lease was taken up byan entrepreneurial New Zealandsheep farmer who stocked the islandwith sheep and cattle. The farmingpractices, which included burningthe scrub, modified the islandconsiderably. The farming lasteduntil 1934 when it was abandoned.Coastwatchers were stationed onthe island during the war, at the endof the war the station was taken overby the New Zealand Metrologicalservice and they maintained amanned weather/research stationon the island until 1995.In the early 1970s the island wasfenced in half and stock wasremoved off the northern half. Theimpacts of the remaining animalswere monitored and they wereall eventually removed in 1990.The vegetation recovered quicklyand the cats died out naturally.In a very ambitious (and neverbefore attempted on such a largescale) eradication programmethe New Zealand Departmentof Conservation successfullyremoved the rats. With the islanddeclared predator free in 2003,the way was clear to reintroducethe endangered Campbell IslandFlightless Teal, which had beenrediscovered on an offshore islandin 1975. Snipe, which were formerlyunknown from the island but werediscovered on another offshoreisland, recolonised the islandsthemselves. The vegetation whichthe great English botanist Sir JosephHooker described in 1841 as havinga “Flora display second to noneoutside the tropics” is flourishingand is nothing short of spectacular.We will offer a number of optionsto explore the island. There will beextended walks to Northwest Bayand possibly Mt Honey. There willalso be an easier walk to the ColLyall Saddle. All of these optionswill allow you the opportunity andtime to enjoy the Southern RoyalAlbatross which nest here in largenumbers. We also visit areas of theisland which contain outstandingexamples of the megaherbs forwhich the island is renowned.Other birds which we will searchfor include the teal and snipe,although the latter is what wewould refer to as a ‘luck’ bird. Theendemic shag can be seen onthe harbour, but unfortunately thenesting colonies of RockhopperPenguins, Grey-head, Blackbrowed and Campbell IslandAlbatross are outside of thepermitted areas and we will haveto look for these species at sea.Other birds we should see includeLight-mantled Sooty Albatross,Northern Giant Petrel, SouthernSkua, Red-billed Gull, Black-backedGull, Antarctic Tern, Redpoll,Dunnock and New Zealand Pipit.This afternoon we depart for theAuckland Islands.
Day 7 - Day 11: Auckland Islands – Carnley Harbour
The Auckland Islands group wasformed by two volcanoes whicherupted some 10-25 million yearsago. They have subsequently beeneroded and dissected by glaciationcreating the archipelago as weknow it today.In the south of the archipelagothere is a very large shelteredharbour rich in human historyincluding shipwrecks, treasurehunters, Coastwatchers and, ofcourse, scientific parties. We planto arrive early morning from ouranchorage at Enderby Island. Weenter the harbour through theeastern entrance which is guardedon both sides by dramatic cliffs andrugged, tussock-covered hills. Our activities here today are totallyweather dependent. We have anumber of options. If the weather isOK there will be an opportunity forthe more energetic expeditionersto climb to the South West Capeand visit the Shy Mollymawk colony.Above the colony we occasionallysee Gibson’s Wandering Albatrossnesting. This climb providesmagnificent views in all directions,especially over the westernentrance to Carnley Harbour,Adams Island and Western Harbour.For those not able to make the climb(it is reasonably difficult) there willbe an opportunity to Zodiac cruisealong the coast of Adams Islandand Western Harbour, with landingsat the latter.Other options include the Tagua BayCoastwatcher’s hut and lookout(the former is derelict) which wasoccupied during the Second WorldWar. We could visit Epigwatt andthe remains of the ‘Grafton’ whichwas wrecked here in 1864. All fivemen aboard survived and lived herefor 18 months before sailing theirmodified dinghy to New Zealand toget help. Two of the survivors wrotebooks about their ordeal. Their firsthand accounts tell us a lot abouttheir time here. Alternatively we mayvisit the Erlagan clearing where aGerman Merchant ship cut firewoodto fire its boilers after slipping itsmoorings in Dunedin on the eveof the Second World War. Anotherpotential site is Camp Cove wherewe can see the remains of thecastaway depots established andmaintained by the New Zealandgovernment between the 1860s andearly 1900s.
Day 8 - Day 12: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island
Enderby Island is one of the mostbeautiful islands in this group and isnamed after the same distinguishedshipping family as one of our ownvessels. This northern most island inthe archipelago is an outstandingwildlife and birding location and isrelatively easy to land on and walkaround. The island was cleared of allintroduced animals (pests) in 1994and both birds and the vegetation,especially the herbaceous plants,are recovering both in numbersand 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 harems fromyounger (ambitious) males, to matewith the cows shortly after they havegiven birth to a single pup. Hooker’sor New Zealand Sea Lion numbersare in a slow decline, for reasonswhich are not obvious but mostprobably connected with a nearbysquid fishery.During our day ashore there willbe several options, some longerwalks, some shorter walks and timeto spend just sitting and enjoyingthe wildlife. The walking is relativelyeasy, a boardwalk traverses theisland to the dramatic western cliffs,from there we follow the coast andcircumnavigate the island.Birds that we are likely to encounterinclude the following species:Southern Royal Albatross, NorthernGiant Petrel, Auckland Island Shag,Auckland Island Flightless Teal,Auckland Island Banded Dotterel,Auckland Island Tomtit, Bellbird,Pipit, Red-crowned Parakeet,Yellow-eyed Penguin and Lightmantled Sooty Albatross. Thereis also a very good chance ofseeing the Subantarctic Snipe.Other more common species wewill see include the Goldfinch,Song Thrush, Blackbird, EuropeanStarling, Red-billed Gull andRedpoll. On Derry Castle Reef wewill look for migratory waders whichcould include Bar-tailed Godwit,Turnstone and possibly vagrants.
Day 9 - Day 13: The Snares – North East Island
The closest Subantarctic Islandsto New Zealand, they wereappropriately called The Snaresas they were once considered ahazard for sailing ships. Comprisingof two main islands and a groupof five islands called the WesternChain; they are uninhabited andenjoy the highest protection asNature Reserves. It is claimed bysome that these islands are hometo more nesting seabirds than all ofthe British Isles together.We plan to arrive early in themorning and, as landings are notpermitted, we will Zodiac cruisealong the sheltered eastern sideof the main island if the weatherand sea conditions are suitable.In the sheltered bays, we shouldsee the endemic Snares CrestedPenguin, Snares Island Tomtit andFernbirds. Cape Pigeons, AntarcticTerns, White-fronted Terns andRed-billed Gulls are also present ingood numbers. There are hundredsof thousands of Sooty Shearwatersnesting on The Snares; the actualnumber is much debated. TheBuller’s Albatross breed here fromearly January onwards.This afternoon en route to the Portof Bluff, take the opportunity torelax and reflect on an amazingexperience. We will recap thehighlights of our expedition andenjoy a farewell dinner tonight aswe complete the last few miles ofour journey.
Day 10 - Day 14: Port of Bluff, New Zealand
After a final breakfast andcompleting Custom formalities webid farewell to our fellow voyagersand take a complimentary coachtransfer to either a central city pointor to the airport.In case of unexpected delaysdue to weather and/or portoperations we ask you not tobook any onward travel until aftermidday today.
Day 11 - 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 landings arepermitted at The Snares.
Day 12 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
21-11-202104-12-2021USD $7,750Triple
21-11-202104-12-2021USD $8,300Main Deck
21-11-202104-12-2021USD $8,800Superior
21-11-202104-12-2021USD $9,600Superior Plus
21-11-202104-12-2021USD $9,900Mini Suite
21-11-202104-12-2021USD $10,600Heritage Suite
22-12-202103-01-2022USD $9,600Mini Suite
22-12-202103-01-2022USD $10,200Heritage Suite
22-12-202103-01-2022USD $7,500Triple
22-12-202103-01-2022USD $8,150Main Deck
22-12-202103-01-2022USD $8,500Superior
22-12-202103-01-2022USD $9,200Superior Plus


    • Visit The Snares
    • Discover Auckland Islands
    • Travel to Macquarie Island
    • Explore Campbell Island