Day 1: We will transfer you from Invercargill to the Port of Bluff (27km south of Invercargill) by coach to embark the Spirit of Enderby. On board you will be shown to your cabin and there will be formal introductions to the staff and ship, followed by safety briefings before we depart.
Day 2: We plan to arrive early in the morning at the largest of the Snares Islands, a nature reserve of international importance. Landing is not allowed, but if conditions permit we will cruise the rugged coastline by Zodiac to see the unique Olearia and Brachyglottis forests and some of the unique wildlife. This includes the endemic Snares Crested Penguins, the Tomtit and Fernbird.
Days 3 & 4: We arrive early morning and anchor in Perseverance Harbour. The island was farmed from the 1890s to early 1930s but the regeneration of the flora, especially the mega herbs since the removal of the feral sheep and rats, can only be described as spectacular. Our visit should coincide with the peak of the flowering of the Pleurophyllum, a Subantarctic endemic. The abandoned Meteorological Station at the head of the harbour makes a great starting point for our exploration of the island. There will be a range of walks offered, all accompanied by guides. You could walk to Col Lyall Saddle, where all three species of Pleurophyllum daisies can be seen along the way. Southern Royal Albatross nest here amongst the flowers and tussocks and there will be an opportunity to observe and photograph these. Alternatively, walk to remote North West Bay across the tussock tops and mega herb fields to a sandy beach where New Zealand Sealions and Yellow-eyed Penguins can be seen. Mt Honey, the highest peak on the Island at 507 meters, is an easy scramble which is rewarded by magnificent views over almost the entire island. From the summit you can continue down to SE Harbour making an enjoyable full day walk.
Days 5 & 6: Campbell Island is the largest of the islands in this region. It is made up of two large extinct volcanoes with world class harbors in the north and south of the island. The western coastline has been sculptured into formidable cliffs by the prevailing westerly weather, while the eastern coastline has been carved out by glaciers into some of the most picturesque fiords. We will anchor in Carnley Harbour and offer you range of activities depending on the weather and sea conditions. A climb to SW Cape is rewarded with magnificent views of a Shy Albatross colony. A quiet amble through the forest on the Musgrave Peninsula takes you to the remains of the World War Two Coast Watcher's huts. For the energetic, a hike onto the "tops" is hard work but is rewarded with great views and many new plant species.
If the weather and sea conditions continue to be suitable we will explore some of the eastern fiords by Zodiac, we may also hike into a small glacial lake through the rata forest that dominates these sheltered fiords. The highlight of our visit to the Auckland Islands must be the day ashore on Enderby Island in Port Ross. It is home to the rare Hookers (New Zealand) Sealion which breed on Sandy Bay beach. We will see the unique mega herbs of this island, including the extensive fields of Bulbinella rossii, the regenerating patches of Anisotome latifolia and the red and white gentians. Royal Albatross nest amongst a hummocked sward of Oreobolus pectinatus comb sedge and gentians. In the forest we will find Bellbirds, Red-crowned Parakeets and the friendly Tomtits. Yellow-eyed Penguins also nest here under the tangled divaricating shrub Myrsine divaricata. There is a good chance that we will see the endemic Auckland Island Flightless Teal as we explore the island.
Day 7: We will have a series of illustrated lectures of the biology and history of the Subantarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean. Our day at sea will also be a great opportunity to see pelagic species, including species that breed on these islands like the Wandering Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, White-capped Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, Mottled Petrel, White-headed Petrel, Cape Petrel, Diving Petrel, Grey-backed and Black-bellied Storm Petrel.
Day 8: On arrival at the Port of Bluff we say our farewells, then transfer by coach to either Invercargill city or to the airport.
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