Sir James Clark Ross discovered the Ross Sea in 1841. It is one of the most remote and least visited areas of the Antarctic continent. Reached via New Zealand, this 30 day expedition invites just a few hundred people each year the opportunity to explore the wildlife rich sub Antarctic islands such as the Snares, Enderby, Macquarie and Campbell Islands. Weather and ice permitting you will have the opportunity to visit Shackelton's hut at Cape Royds, Scott's hut at Cape Evans and other significant historic huts of Mawson and Borchgrevinks.
Wildlife is abundant during just 2 summer months when the area is not locked in ice. This is one of the rare locations where you may be privileged to encounter a great diversity of penguins. On Macquarie for example are King, Royal, Rockhopper and Gentoo, on Snares island the largest of all penguins; the Emperor penguin as well as Adelie penguins and rare species such as Snares Crested Penguin with more than 6 species of Albatross.
Other bird species can include South Polar Skuas, Snow Petrels, Southern Fulmars and many more. Both whales and seals abound here at this time including hundreds of Southern Elephant Seals which can be found feeding in the rich waters around the ice edge.
This is a true expedition onboard a ship which carries a maximum of just 50 passengers. Some of the most dedicated and passionate guides will be onboard to maximise your time on land and bring to life the wonderful nature and human history elements of this unique place.
Sample 30 Day Itinerary
A typical itinerary is illustrated below. All itineraries are for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for this truly pioneering Antarctic expedition.
Day 1: Invercargill
Arrive at Invercargill, New Zealand’s southern most city and rich in Scottish history. Grab your last-minute luxuries before meeting your fellow expeditioners for an informal get-together over dinner.
Day 2: Embarkation in Bluff
Enjoy a visit to the museum to view the Subantarctic display before transferring to the Port of Bluff, where you will board your vessel. Settle into your cabin and join your expedition team and the captain for a welcome on board.
Day 3: The Snares – North East Island
Staggeringly, The Snares are home to more nesting seabirds than all of the British Isles put together. Zodiac cruising the coast you learn how the islands got their name and in the sheltered bays youshould see the endemic Snares Crested Penguin, the Cape Petrel and Buller’s Albatross nesting on the imposing cliffs.
Day 4 - 5: Auckland Island
Characterised by towering cliffs and rugged sea stacks, these islands have borne witness to many a shipwreck in days gone by. You spend the day ashore on Enderby Island which is perhaps the most beautiful of all the Subantarctic Islands. Here you find parakeets flitting above carpets of red, white and yellow wild flowers and on the beaches beyond, the rare Hooker’s or New Zealand Sea Lion. you can hope to land in Carnley Harbour and if conditions are suitable climb to a Shy Albatross colony, otherwise we explore sites within the harbour.
Day 6: At Sea
Take the chance to learn more about the biology and history of these islands and the tempestuous Southern Ocean through informal lectures with your onboard experts. This particular stretch of ocean is very productive and you can expect to see many seabirds, including five or six kinds of albatross and numerous species of petrel.
Day 7 - 8: Macquarie Island
This remote, rocky outpost which endures roaring westerly winds, supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Hemisphere. Four species of penguin, King, Royal, Rockhopper and Gentoo breed here. You will never forget your first experience in a ceaselessly active ‘penguin city’, where the dapper inhabitants show no fear of their strange visitors. You can also expect t meet with the Park Rangers, visit the Australian Antarctic Base and observe the hundreds of Southern Elephant Seals along the beaches.
Day 9 - 12: At Sea
Soaring albatross and petrels circle the vessel as you steam south through the Southern Ocean. Lectures now concentrate on the Ross Sea region and beyond the bow of the ship; drifting icebergs of extraordinary shapes begin to appear. Manoeuvring in close for your first ice photographs you pass the Antarctic Circle and into the continent’s realm of 24-hour daylight.
Day 13 - 22: Antarctica’s Ross Sea Region
With unpredictable ice and weather conditions, a day-by-day itinerary is not possible but we assess the conditions daily and take every opportunity to make landings and launch the Zodiacs. You can anticipate wildlife viewing, visits to scientific bases and historic sites, as well as the spectacular white and blue scenery.
You can hope to visit the following areas:
Cape Adare: A large flat spit of land, teeming with the staggering sight of Antarctica’s largest Adelie Penguin rookery: a tumult of chattering, feeding chicks; territorial disputes; petty pilfering and courtship displays. Curious penguins often come very close, offering superb photographic opportunities. Among the shifting mass of penguins you will find Carsten Borchgrevink’s Hut, the oldest in Antarctica, an overwintering shelter for the first expedition to the Antarctic continent in 1899.
Cape Hallett: The enormous Admiralty Range heralds our arrival; wild and extraordinary, the mountains rear up from the sea to over 4,000m, bounded by colossal glaciers. You land at an abandoned base site, now home to large numbers of Adelie Penguins and Weddell Seals.
Franklin Island: Desolately beautiful and rugged, this is home to a large Adelie Penguin population and other nesting seabirds. You will attempt a landing and explore the coastline.
Possession Islands: Rarely-visited, small and rugged, these rocks support tens of thousands of penguins. Observe the birds’ busy and humorous activity, with the Admiralty Mountains forming a superb backdrop across the water.
Ross Ice Shelf: The world’s largest body of floating ice and a natural barrier, at times creating hazardous weather, with sheets of snow blown at gale force by winds off the polar ice cap. Just 800 miles from the South Pole, this daunting spectacle prevented many early explorers from venturing further south. You will cruise along its dizzying 30m high ice cliffs, perhaps lucky enough to see icebergs ‘calving’.
Ross Island: Mount Erebus/Cape Bird/Shackleton’s Hut/Scott’s Hut(s) and visits to a scientific field station (Scott and McMurdo Stations are high on your wish list but ice, weather and station operational requirements often make them inaccessible). Ross Island was and is the ‘hub of activity’ in the Ross Sea, dominated by Mt Erebus, a monstrous active volcano named after the ancient Greek God of Darkness. The carefully preserved huts of the ‘Heroic Era’ help make the history come alive. If you can reach the bases you get a modern perspective on Antarctic Research.
Terra Nova Bay: An Italian research station where the scientists are always hospitable and enjoy showing passengers around their lonely but beautiful home. They share with you their scientific research and also, perhaps, the best ‘cafe espresso’ in Antarctica!
Day 23 - 26: At Sea
Taking time to rest and enjoy shipboard life in the bar or library after the excitement and long daylight hours of the Antarctic, you have time for lectures on our final destination and for some pelagic bird spotting.
Day 27 - 28: Campbell Island - Perseverance Harbour
You drop anchor in Perseverance Harbour, an occasional refuge for Southern Right Whales who come here to calve. Walk to the nesting site of the Southern Royal Albatross and see the strange and beautiful megaherbs growing on the hills. These huge wild flowers that have adapted to the harsh conditions have unusual colourings and weirdly-shaped leaves. You can also seek out other wildlife such as Campbell Island Shags, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross and sea lions.
Day 29: At Sea
Relax and reflect on a remarkable journey as you join your onboard experts for a recap of highlights and enjoy a farewell dinner tonight.
Day 30: Disembarkation in Invercargill
You will disembark in the Port of Bluff and this adventure ends as you disperse to begin others. After fond farewells we transfer you to a central city point or to the airport.
Voyage on a sharing basis per person as indicated in draft itinerary
All meals, snacks, coffee and tea onboard
All shore excursions and zodiac activities
Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff
Pre / post expedition transfers
One night hotel accommodation in Invercargill including dinner and breakfast
Comprehensive pre-departure material
Landing fees of $880 per person
Pre and post land arrangements
Cancellation and personal insurance
Passports and visas
Arrival and departure tax
Items of a personal nature (alcohol, laundry etc)
A fuel surcharge may apply on certain departures should the price of Brent crude rise above US$120 barrel 90 days before the voyage