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PETRELS, PENGUINS & ALBATROSSES: Cruising New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands
Nesting seabirds on dramatically beautiful, misty islands; endemic penguins, shags, shorebirds, and landbirds; and the finest assortment of pelagics on land and at sea, from a comfortable cruise ship.

In the immense, windswept southern ocean, a sprinkling of islands rises from the submerged Campbell Plateau, once part of the Gondwana continent. Here, grave albatrosses wheel against towering cliffs, gadfly petrels bound past in great looping flight, storm-petrels dance daintily upon the waves, prions ghost past our prow. Here, Hourglass Dolphins race our ship, and the occasional whale--Humpback or Sei, Fin or Sperm--escorts us between islands. Welcome to New Zealand's subantarctic islands, home to perhaps the greatest diversity of seabirds in the world!

Our trip features a mix of Naiad cruising (Naiads and Zodiacs are sibling species of inflatable vessels) and landings in seven island groups: the Snares, Auckland, Campbell, Antipodes, Chatham, and Bounty islands, plus Australia's Macquarie Island. Each cluster of islands bears a unique assemblage of species, many of them endemic to that group. Each island cluster boasts its own endemic shag--and the Chathams have two. Conservatively, 7 species of albatross nest in the region (14 species if contemplated splits are accepted!); we'll visit several at the nest. We are likely to see more than 30 species of tubenoses. The islands' flora is as noted as the bird life--Subantarctic Snipe scuttle amidst spectacularly blooming megaherbs.

Penguin-studying is stellar. Likely species include King, Royal, Yellow-eyed, Snares Crested, Erect Crested, Little, Gentoo, and Rockhopper. Imagine this scene: A dense fog bank envelops the ship as we lie at anchor in Buckles Bay, Macquarie Island. Flotillas of curious King and Royal penguins circle the ship, the Kings calling a nasal "Whooo?" when they surface. In the depths of the clear water, we watch graceful, cavorting penguins. Later we motor ashore through the thinning fog and land amidst the season's chaos. We stand still, and the penguins violate the 15-foot buffer zone and come to us. Royals gently taste the fabric of our rainpants in bouts of cross-species allopreening, while immature Kings shuffle past, sporting downy Mohawks as they molt into adult finery. The colony of Royal Penguins is truly a spectacle: from a viewing platform, we are suspended above a riotous sea of penguins. Flippers flail. Pairs court. Nesters lunge at trespassers. Parents watch intently as eggs pip and chicks emerge.

Endemics of special note include the flightless Auckland Islands Teal, the charming Antipodean Parakeet, and the beautiful Shore Plover, one of the world's rarest shorebirds with a population of roughly 150. We'll seek New Zealand specialities such as New Zealand Falcon, Weka, Chatham Oystercatcher, New Zealand Pigeon, Red-crowned Parakeet, New Zealand Pipit, Fernbird, Tomtit, Chatham Gerygone, New Zealand Bellbird, and Tui.

If you find irresistible the allure of remote, wild islands where penguins share the turf with parakeets, if seabirds and the sea's shifting moods fascinate you, please join us for a memorable odyssey down under on what most folks agree is the most spectacular pelagic trip in the world.

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Combo Tours
If you would like a longer birding holiday, some departures of this tour may be combined with:
AUSTRALIA

Other Tours in NEW ZEALAND



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2019 Departures
Nov 10 - Dec 2

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Guides for our tours
Doug Gochfeld

What to Expect
Cool temperate climate, various landings, easy to moderate terrain (potentially one short but difficult hike).

Our staff travel agents can assist you with tour information, flight reservations and tour bookings. Contact us at (800) 728-4953
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