Wildgardens of the Subantarctic Islands

A unique journey for the keen gardener and botanist to visit some of the remote and wild gardens of New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands. This is an opportunity to see a natural wilderness with spectacular megaherbs such as: Bulbinella (Chrysobactron) rossii and Anisotome latifolia on Enderby Island; Damnamenia vernicosa on the tussock tops from Musgrove Peninsula; Pleurophyllum criniferum, P. hookerii and P. speciosum on Campbell Island. The vegetation patterns of these islands reflect their volcanic origins and cool, humid climate. This journey will be led by Dr David Given, a world expert on rare and endangered plants, who has visited these islands many times.

After breakfast at hotel visit to the Southland Museum for introductory lecture and an opportunity to visit the Botanic Gardens. Coach to Port of Bluff to board Akademik Shokalski. Depart for Stewart Island, ashore at Ulva Island, a beautiful Nature Reserve to see some of New Zealand's southernmost forests, and unique birdlife. Depart for Snares Island.

The Snares Island is a Nature Reserve of international importance and landing is prohibited. We will use our zodiacs to cruise past the rugged coastline of this tree daisy smothered Island to see the endemic Snares crested penguin, tomtit and fernbird. We depart the Snares for the Auckland Islands.

Arrive Auckland Islands and anchor in Erebus Cove with an opportunity to go ashore at the site of the old township of Hardwicke. All that remains today is the tiny cemetery hemmed in by Dracophyllum scrub and stunted rata forest. Time permitting, a visit to the World War II Coastwatching Station in Ranui Cove. Up to the wartime lookout where subalpine tussock and mountain cottonwood can be seen, along with orchids amongst the tussock and the ancient fork fern perching on rata.

We will spend all day ashore on Enderby Island. This Island is forested by gnarled and windswept rata, and has a plateau of scrubland and cushion bog. We will see unique giant megaherbs, fields of Bulbinella (Chrysobactron) rossii, regenerating patches of Anisotome latifolia and the red and white gentians. Home also to the rare Hooker's sealion which breed each year on Sandy Bay beach.

We cruise down the eastern coastline and if time and permits, we will venture close into one of the Eastern Fiords for an early morning glimpse of the world's southern most tree ferns. At Carnley Harbour, south of Auckland Islands group, there will be a visit to the World War II Hut in Tagua Bay. Open tussock country lies on the tops where a variety of megaherbs and cushion plants can also be seen.

Cruise from Auckland Islands to Campbell Island.

We anchor in Perseverance Harbour. We will walk to Col-Lyall Saddle and observe the Southern Royal Albatross which nest there amongst the megaherbs. On our second day ashore, there will be an opportunity to walk to remote Northwest Bay along the tussock tops and megaherb fields, where all three species of Pleurophyllum daisies can be found. We depart Campbell Island.

Enroute to Bluff. Arrive at Bluff and disembark.

The World of Penguins

No other country in the world can provide the penguin (or wildlife) enthusiast with such a rich diversity of penguin species. This voyage is arguably the best natural history expedition anywhere in the world. It is possible to see twelve penguin species and numerous other seabirds. We sail south from New Zealand to visit the Snares, Aucklands and Antipodes Islands before going south to George V land in Antarctica and returning to Hobart, Australia, via Macquarie Island. This voyage coincides with the peak of the brief southern breeding season so you are promised a great experience. To top off the experience we visit the South Magnetic Pole.

Arrive Invercargill. Transfer to Port of Bluff and join ship to begin our journey south.

The Snares Island is a Nature Reserve of international importance and landing is prohibited. We will however use our zodiacs to cruise the coastline to see the endemic Snares Crested penguin and other endemic birds.

Arrive Auckland Islands. We will spend an entire day ashore on Enderby Island. Southern Royal albatross, Light-mantled Sooty albatross and Giant petrels all nest on this magnificent island. The rare Yellow-eyed penguin also nests here. They are best observed late evening as they come ashore. During our second day at the Island we will explore the seldom visited Carnley Harbour in the south of the group.

At sea enroute to the Antipodes Island a chance to observe some of the many pelagic species that feed in this area.

At Antipodes we will see the endemic Erect-crested penguin and the Rockhopper penguin.The endemic parakeets can also be seen from the zodiacs.

We head south to George V Land, there will be many opportunities to watch for pelagic species and lecturer staff will provide background lectures.

We will spend this time on the Antarctic Coast - this is one of the first areas south of the Antarctic circle to become "ice free" each year and as a consequence there are many species of wildlife. Adelie penguins nest at a number of sites. We will search for Emperor penguins that will be at the end of the breeding season and keep a watch for Chinstrap penguins - there is a small colony at the nearby Balleny Islands. Whales and seals will also be present and we will take the time to observe these. Sir Douglas Mawson, the great Australian explorer was based here in 1911/12, the remains of his hut still stand at Commonwealth Bay. There will be an opportuntiy to visit the hut.

The South Magnetic Pole lies 100 miles off the coast of George V Land we will visit it enroute to Macquarie Island.

Macquarie Island has been described as one of the "wonder spots" of the world. Four species of penguin breed here, including the endemic Royal penguin. Other penguins we will encounter include the King, Gentoo and Rockhopper. We visit Sandy Bay and zodiac cruise Lusitania Bay.

At sea enroute to Hobart. Arrive Hobart, Tasmania and disembark.

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