Known in birding circles simply as the ‘WPO’, this expedition incorporates many of the key birding areas in the South West Pacific. First offered in 2007, it is now considered one of the ‘must do’ expeditions for any birder because of its opportunities to see some of the rarest pelagic seabirds in the world, plus many island endemics. But it is not just for ‘birders’, the cetacean list can only be described as outstanding.
And if you ever tire of birding or cetacean watching then there are options for snorkelling, swimming and relaxing. After departing Auckland, New Zealand, we sail for the rich waters of the Hauraki Gulf where there are numerous speciality seabirds, including the New Zealand Stormpetrel. From there it’s northward to Norfolk Island. Next stop is New Caledonia where we search for the amazing Kagu and other endemic bird species in the Parc Provincial de la Rivière Bleue.
We then spend five exciting days in the Solomon Islands birding on Santa Ana, Makira, Guadalcanal, Tetepare and Kolombangara, before cruising across the New Britain Trench, an area known to be extremely rich in cetaceans. As we sail along the coasts of Bougainville and New Ireland, we will look for two rarely seen seabirds: Heinroth’s Shearwater and the critically endangered Beck’s Petrel which was only rediscovered in 2007, both of which we have seen on almost all our previous expeditions in this region.
Next stop is Truk Island (Federated States of Micronesia) for some more intensive birding. We will then set a course for the Bonin Islands south of Japan; our route will take us to Chichi-jima, the largest island in the archipelago and where we saw the critically endangered Bryan’s Shearwater during our 2019 expedition. We will then continue north to Torishima Island (where we hope to get great views of the Short-tailed Albatross) before we arrive at our last island destination of the voyage, Hachijō-jima, where we will look for the last specialities of the expedition. Our voyage will then conclude in Tokyo, Japan.
This expedition is accompanied by some of the best pelagic birding guides in the world who have extensive experience of the seabirds of the West Pacific and have visited the islands we will be landing on multiple times. Birding starts at dawn and finishes at sundown. Our guides are there throughout the day to assist you and the ‘reading of the bird list’ each evening is legendary for its detail and discussion. This is one expedition you can’t afford to miss.