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19 Day Birding Down Under

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​Have you any idea how many bird species can be viewed on the Birding Downunder Tour? Far too many to list them all, so here’s a tempting sample. Albatross, Petrels, rare Robins, Shags, Penguins, Pigeons, Turns, Gulls, Tomtits, Bellbirds, Ferns, Shearwaters, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Starling, Redpoll, Godwit, Parakeets, Sub Antarctic Waders, Teal, Dotterill, Sub Antarctic Snipe and many, many more!

You will cruise about the Auckland, Macquarie, Campbell, Antipodes, Bounty, Pryamid and Chatham Islands to visit and view all these species. Some islands you will cruise around, due to landing restrictions and others, such as the Chathams, you will venture ashore to see birds nesting etc, in their natural habitats.

On your bird venture you will be hosted by experts who will gladly teach you about these species. The South Pacific is home to some of the worlds rarest and least known sea birds. These are termed Pelagic birds due to spending most of their time at sea.

If you are crazy about birds, discovery and have got your sea legs on, then Birding Downunder must be on your essential to do list. We will make sure all your needs are catered for so you can enjoy doing what you do best, observation of Mother Natures wonderful oceanic bird life.


​This trip includes: 

  • Transfer from Invercargill’s Kelvin Hotel to the ship
  • Transfer from the ship to Dunedin central city hotels
  • All landing and Department of Conservation fees and permits
  • All shore excursions as outlined in itinerary
  • All accommodation and meals
  • Services of Heritage Expeditions leaders
  • Post-expedition Trip Log

This trip does not include:

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Laundry bills
  • Drinks
  • Gratuities and other items of a personal nature

Other Information


  • ​Trip Length – 19 Days

Grade A General good health necessary. No specific fitness requirements. Clients must be in good general health to join our expeditions. 

The expedition is ship-based, and physically not very demanding. Although you spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. 

To join the voyage, you must be able to get up and down steps between the different ship levels and up and down the gangway to board the zodiacs for the excursions ashore.

What to take on board the ship
The ship is heated throughout with the normal temperature 17-25C. In keeping with the expedition’s atmosphere, dress on board is informal. Bring casual and comfortable clothing. Keep in mind that much of the spectacular scenery can be appreciated from deck, which can be slippery. Bring sturdy shoes with no-slip soles and make sure a jacket is never far away in case of the call, “Whales” comes over the load speaker and you have to dash outside. Wear layers since it is comfortably warm on board the ship – and cold out on deck. There may be an occasion, i.e. Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve or a spontaneously Posh Night where you may require clothing that is a little more formal.
Tips to stay comfortable & warm in cold weather:

Avoid overdressing to reduce perspiration
Wear water repellent outer garments that will keep you dry on the outside and still breathe enough so that moisture from you body can escape
Body heat is most likely to be lost from parts that have a lot of surface area in comparison to total mass – namely, the hands and feet. Keep them warm and dry. For hands, mittens are better than gloves.
If the rest of your body is covered, as much as 90% of heat can come from your head, so be sure to wear a hat, beanie or balaclava. These items can be pulled down to protect your ears, forehead, neck and chin. The neck also needs protection with a woollen or synthetic scarf that can be wrapped around the face, when travelling against the wind.
Dress comfortable, loose layers. For anyone out in the cold, it is far better to wear layers of relatively light, loose clothing than one thick, heavy item. Between each layer there is a film of trapped air which, when heated by your body, acts as an excellent insulator. Wool and silk are superior to cotton because they can trap warm air. Synthetic fabrics that spring back into shape after compression are also good. When damp or wet, polyester down is better insulator than goose or duck down. Polar fleece is popular and recommended.

Essential Items

  • Warm Trousers
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Thermal Underwear
  • Sweaters/Jerseys
  • Turtlenecks
  • Mittens and Gloves
  • Woollen Hat or Balaclava
  • Warm Socks
  • Rubber Boots (Gumboots or Wellingtons as we commonly call them)
  • Waterproof and Windproof Jacket
  • Backpack
  • Sunglasses
  • A pair of Binoculars – highly recommended.

Optional items

  • Sandals or similar (slip on sandals) are very useful to wear around the ship
  • Earplugs may be useful if sharing a cabin with a snorer. 

The Expedition Vessel ‘Spirit of Enderby’ (Professor Khromov) is one of the best run ships of it kind. On board the atmosphere is peaceful and warm, more akin to a private yacht than a cruise ship.

With just 48 passengers a very tangible camaraderie is created amongst passengers and crew. The ship is under the command of an experienced team of Russian Officers, with New Zealand and Australian hotel and expedition staff. 

Built in 1984, the Spirit of Enderby measures 72 metres in length and is fully ice-strengthened. Powered by two, 1,156 horse power, diesel engines. It is capable of speeds of up to 12 knots. The vessel is fitted with stabilisers, making travel much more comfortable. 

Excellent accommodation is provided in twin share cabins, approximately half of which have private facilities and the remainder shared facilities. On board is a bar, library and lounge. 

You are encouraged to spend time on the bridge to witness the experienced captain and officers in action, recognised as experts in polar navigation. The team of expert staff are always on hand to assist with every need and question. Throughout the voyage the crew maintain a lookout for seabirds, dolphins or whales and keep an expedition log, a bound copy of which will be sent to everybody at the conclusion of the expedition. 

The key to these expeditions is the fleet of semi rigid inflatable Naiad (Greek for water nymph) craft, also known as Zodiacs. These extremely safe and stable craft will land you at some of the most amazing places, where few others have ever been.

Dining is informal and relaxed, and the cuisine outstanding. Award winning chefs prepare delicious meals and are able to cater for any special dietary requirements. A selection of fine New Zealand and Australian wines is available.

Heritage Suite: has a large lounge area, a separate bedroom with double bed, a single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers, fridge. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. There are large forward and side facing windows with great views.

Mini Suite: has a small bedroom with a 3/4 bed and a single bed in the lounge, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. This suite has windows.

Superior Plus: Cabins have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.

Superior: Cabins have one bunk, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.

Main deck: Cabins have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.

What type of ship to shore communication facilities does the ship have? 
The ‘Spirit of Enderby’ is equipped with the Iridium satellite phone for phone calls and for receiving and sending emails.

What currency is accepted on board? 
The U.S. dollar is the standard currency on board. New Zealand and Australian currency will be accepted at the current exchange rate.

Can you cater to specific dietary requirements? 
Chefs can prepare food according to special dietary needs providing requirements are noted at the time of final payment. Unfortunately, kosher, halal and vegan meals cannot be offered.

Can I recharge my batteries and use electrical appliances on board (e.g. hairdryer)? 
Power on board is 220V (AC current) with outlets being recessed, round 2 pronged European type. If you plan to bring the American standard 110V equipment with flat pronged plug, you will need to bring a converter and a round 2 pronged European type adaptor plug. Please check your equipment to be sure you bring what is necessary for your personal needs.

Special note for video equipment battery packs: Please check with a camera source and bring with you a convertor adequate for recharging your pack if your equipment is 110V and needing to be converted to the 220V on board. 

How sea sick will I be? 
All people wonder if they will be sea sick, the answer to this is difficult as it depends entirely on the individual. A small percentage of people do get sick and then recover for the remainder of the voyage. If you think you are susceptible to sea sickness then it is a good idea to be prepared. Motion sickness tablets or Scopolamine patches (Scopoderm) can be purchased from your local chemist. Please remember if you are concerned, commence these before the voyage starts (as directed on the information for each medication) rather than after you are already sick.
Additional Costs 

Not included in expedition fee

  • Airfare to and from your home to the port of departure or arrival in New Zealand.
  • Items of a personal nature such as insurance, and excess baggage charge.
  • Passport, visa and vaccination fees.
  • On board the ship: beverages, communication charges, medical supplies, laundry, sea shop purchases.

Invercargill - Depart Port of Bluff - The Snares - North East Island - Auckland Islands - Enderby Island - Auckland Islands - Carnley Harbour - At Sea - Macquarie Island Day - Macquarie Island Day - At sea en route to Campbell Island - Campbell Island - Perserverance Harbour - At sea en route to the Antipodes - Antipodes Island - The Bounty Islands - At Sea - Chatham Islands - Waitangi - Pyramid Rock and South East Island - At sea en route to Dunedin - At sea en route to Dunedin - Arrive in Dunedin



Meet this evening for an informal get-together at the hotel for dinner, meet fellow adventurers on your voyage and some of our expedition team.


Depart Port of Bluff

Breakfast at your leisure in the dining room at the hotel. Your programme will advise a time for bags out and then you will be transferred to the Southland Museum to view the special Sub Antarctic display in the Museum before being transferred by coach to the Port of Bluff (27 km south of Invercargill) to board the Spirit of Enderby. Depart for the Snares Islands.


The Snares - North East Island

Cruise by Zodiac if weather and sea conditions are suitable along the sheltered eastern side of North East Island. We should see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, Snares Island Tomtit and Fernbirds, also Cape Pigeons, Antarctic Terns, White-fronted Terns and Red-billed Gulls. There are are hundreds of thousands of Sooty Shearwaters nesting here and Buller’s Albatross breeding from late December onwards.


Auckland Islands - Enderby Island

Enderby Island is a great place to view birds and wildlife. We visit Sandy Bay, the main breeding ground for the rare New Zealand (Hooker’s) Sea Lion and just one of three breeding grounds on the Auckland Islands. There are chances to observe the Southern Royal Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, Auckland Island Shag, Auckland Island Flightless Teal, Auckland Island Banded Dotterel, Auckland Island Tomtit, Bellbird, Pipit, Red-crowned Parakeet, Yellow-eyed Penguin and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. We will also keep a lookout for the rare Subantarctic Snipe. On Derry Castle Reef there is a good chance of seeing the Bar-tailed Godwit, Turnstone and perhaps other migratory waders.


Auckland Islands - Carnley Harbour

These islands have witnessed many a shipwreck in days gone by and harbour tales of castaways and coastwatchers. If weather and sea conditions are suitable, energetic expeditioners are able to climb to the South West Cape Shy Albatross colony where Gibson’s Wandering Albatross nest amongst the tussocks above the colony.


At Sea

At sea you will have a series of lectures supported by videos of the biology and history of the Sub Antarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean. The Sub Antarctic Convergence Zone is traditionally very close to the area you will be sailing through so you should expect the birdlife to reflect this as you get closer to Macquarie Island. You will be at sea all day, another opportunity to see pelagic species, including wandering albatross species, Royal albatross, shy and 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.


Macquarie Island Day

The only place in the world where the beautiful Royal Penguin breeds, this remote outpost supports a breathtaking concentration of wildlife. You will never forget your first experience of a noisy ‘penguin city’ where you will be witness to a thousand chattering, feeding chicks; territorial disputes; petty pilfering and courtship displays: King, Gentoo and Rockhopper Penguins can also be seen here. We meet with Park Rangers and seek out the thousands of Southern Elephant Seals lolling on the beaches and along the coast where Redpolls and Imperial Shag can often be spotted.


Macquarie Island Day

We meet with Park Rangers and seek out the thousands of Southern Elephant Seals lolling on the beaches and along the coast where Redpolls and Imperial Shag can often be spotted.


At sea en route to Campbell Island

We will be keeping a keen lookout for cetaceans, albatross and petrels today, relax in the ship’s bar or catch up on your reading in the library.


Campbell Island - Perserverance Harbour

We drop anchor in Perseverance Harbour. Once on shore we walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross or to Northwest Bay, pass beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. During the day ashore we should see the Campbell Island Shag, Southern Skua, Antarctic Tern, Dunnock, New Zealand Pipit, Campbell Island Teal and hopefully the elusive Campbell Island Snipe.


At sea en route to the Antipodes

Join us on the Bridge, where we keep a keen lookout for species commonly seen in this area: Black-browed Albatross, Campbell Island Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Sooty Shearwater and Little Shearwater. There should be plenty of petrels and again the hard to identify Prion species.


Antipodes Island

One of the most isolated, least known and rugged of the Subantarctic Islands, landings are not permitted here, so we cruise along the coast looking for the endemic Antipodes Island and Reischek’s Parakeet. We may also see the Antipodes subspecies of the New Zealand Pipit, and with half the world population of Erect-crested Penguins here, we should encounter one or two as well as Antarctic Terns and Kelp Gulls.


The Bounty Islands

Arrive at the Bounty Islands, inhospitable granite knobs lashed by the Southern Ocean, early morning to zodiac cruise. Erect crested penguin, Fulmar prions and the endemic Bounty Island shag will feature on the bird lists for this morning. Depart for the Chatham Islands. This afternoon you should see wandering albatross species, Northern Royal albatross, white capped albatross, Salvin’s albatross, Northern giant petrel, cape petrel, Antarctic Fulmar, mottled petrel, soft plumaged petrel, broad billed prion, Fulmar prion, White chinned petrel, sooty shearwater, little shearwater, grey backed, black bellied petrel and Wilson’s storm petrel. There is a possibility you could see the Chatham Island Petrel and the crew will be keeping a close watch for the Magenta petrel. Depart for the Chatham Islands.


At Sea

We continue north towards the Chatham Islands, with similar species accompanying us as yesterday. Towards evening as we approach the islands we are closer to the Subantarctic and sub tropical convergence and we see a subtle change in the species composition. This evening we cruise off the south coast of the main island where the critically endangered Magenta Petrel breeds and the Chatham Petrel has been seen on previous expeditions.


Chatham Islands - Waitangi

This morning we go ashore on the main island where we might see the endemic Chatham Island Shag and along the coast the Chatham Island Oystercatcher. We visit a private bush reserve on the south coast to see the Chatham Island Warbler, Chatham Island Pigeon and Tui. This evening we have another look for the Magenta and Chatham Island Petrels.


Pyramid Rock and South East Island

This morning you will land at Waitangi, the main settlement on the Chatham Islands. Near the landing you should see the endemic Chatham Island shag. Local buses and Landrovers will transport you down the South Coast to the Tuku Reserve. Here on private land, and guided by the local people you will enjoy a bush walk in the hope of seeing the Chatham Island warbler and Chatham Island pigeon. Much of the main Chatham Islands has been developed for farming and many introduced European birds can be seen in this area. Return to the Spirit of Enderby early afternoon and depart for Dunedin.


At sea en route to Dunedin

En route to Dunedin we will cross the Chatham Rise. Here nutrient-rich waters allow for an overlap between northern pelagic species and birds from southern latitudes. 


At sea en route to Dunedin

We can expect to see Royal Albatross, Wandering Albatross, Westland Black Petrel, Cook’s Petrel and much more.


Arrive in Dunedin

Our adventure ends at the historic Port of Otago. We bid farewell to our fellow voyagers, to enjoy a transfer to the city or airport. 

To allow time for disembarkation procedures we do not recommend booking flights from Dunedin before midday. 

During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed. Landings at the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand are by permit only as administered by the Government of New Zealand. No landings are permitted at The Snares. 

This is an abridged itinerary, please contact us for a full voyage itinerary.

Tour Prices 2015

Main Deck Tripple $10500.00 USD pp A
One bunk (one upper and one lower) and one additional lower berth, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private washbasin. Shared shower and toilet facilities nearby with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
Main Deck $11500.00 USD pp A
Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private washbasin. Shared shower and toilet facilities nearby with other Main Deck cabins. These cabins have a porthole.
Superior $13000.00 USD pp A
One bunk (one upper and one lower berth), writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
Superior Plus $14000.00 USD pp A
Two lower berths, writing desk, wardrobe, and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
Mini Suite $14700.00 USD pp A
Separate bedroom with a double bed and a single bed or sofa in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe and drawers. Private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Mini Suites have windows.
Heritage Suite $15750.00 USD pp A
Large lounge area, separate bedroom with double bed, single bed in the lounge, writing desk, wardrobe, drawers, and fridge. There is a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. Large forward and side facing windows with great views.


Additional Costs

Landing Fees $800.00 USD pp


Departure Dates 2015

15 November, 2015 to 03 December, 2015 

This trip includes:

Pre/Post cruise transfers, one night hotel accommodation in a twin share room (inc. dinner/breakfast), all on board ship accommodation with meals and all expedition shore excursions.

This trip does not include:

All items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks, gratuities. International/domestic flights, visas and travel insurance.

A: Available W: Waitlisted

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