Isolated, windswept, beautiful and fragile, New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands are unique and irreplaceable, a privileged visit. Described by the United Nations Environment Program as “The most diverse and extensive of all sub-Antarctic archipelagos”, all five island groups - the Bounty Islands, the Antipodes Islands, the Snares Islands, the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island - were honoured with World Heritage status in 1998. These locations are a birders and photographers paradise.The New Zealand sub-Antarctic islands are blessed with the most significant populations of many species, such as the Southern Royal Albatross, the Yellow-Eyed Penguin and the New Zealand Sea Lion. They are particularly notable for the large number and variety of pelagic seabirds and penguins that nest there. There are 126 bird species in total, including 40 seabirds, five of which breed nowhere else in the world. The five island groups that make up the sub-Antarctic islands are located in the Southern Ocean, south to south-east of New Zealand. Spanning six degrees of latitude, from 47 to 52 degrees south, the five island groups occupy the stormy latitudes of the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties, known also as the Albatross Latitudes. Much like Orion’s Antarctic explorations, itineraries, landings and access to these areas will be influenced by permits and prevailing weather conditions..
Exploration of the Antipodes itinerary:
Day 1: Auckland
In the Maori language Auckland is known as Tamaki Makau Rau, the city of 100 lovers, having earned the name because it was a place desired by all and conquered by many. The setting is spectacular, the city being nestled upon three harbours - the Waitemata, the Manukau and the Kaipara. Don't miss the chance to dine out in Auckland as the city has perfected the style of cuisine called "Pacific Rim", blending Asian and Pacific flavours. Seafood features prominently on restaurant menus so be sure to try New Zealand green lipped mussels and succulent Clevedon Coast oysters - all matched with an excellent New Zealand wine.
Days 2 & 3: At Sea
Spend your days at sea listening to fascinating lectures in anticipation of your arrival in the Chatham Islands and watching the diverse birdlife crossing the Chatham Rise.
Day 4: Chatham Islands
Chatham Islands were once the home of the Moriori. European and American whalers and sealers, not to mention Maori tribes, began to arrive from the mainland. The Moriori are believed to be Polynesians who sailed to the islands from New Zealand between 900AD and 1500AD. By the beginning of the 20th century, there were just 12 full-blooded Moriori left. There are now believed to be around 300 Moriori descendants living amongst Maori and Pakeha (Europeans) on the Chatham Islands. A feature includes the unusual statue of the ‘Last Moriori’, Tommy Solomon. The Chathams are nearly halfway between the equator and the South Pole, and perch on the International Date Line.
Day 5: Bounty Islands
The Bounty Islands are comprised of 135 hectares of a small group of 13 granite islets and rocks in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the South Island of New Zealand. They are part of the Antipodes sub-Antarctic Islands tundra eco-region, uninhabited by humans, but heavily populated by penguins and albatrosses. Another 19th century popular hunting ground for sealers, the Bounty Islands were discovered by Captain William Bligh just months before the infamous mutiny in 1788.
Day 6: Antipodes Islands
First named the Penantipodes, the group was discovered in 1800 by Captain Waterhouse of H.M.S. Reliance. An American sealer under the command of Captain Pendleton was the first to station a sealing gang on the Antipodes. The brig, “Union of New York” left an officer and 11 men there in 1804. On returning to Sydney via Fiji the ship was lost and the entire crew massacred. The sealing gang was eventually rescued in 1805 after more than a year on the Antipodes and an accumulation of almost 60,000 skins. By the 1830’s the seals were all but extinct and there was no further sealing. In the early 1880’s there was renewed interest in these islands for the penguin skin trade to meet a demand for fashionable ladies’ muffs.
Day 7: At Sea
Enjoy a day at sea watching seabirds and attending lectures.
Day 8: Campbell Island
Campbell Island was first discovered in January 1810 by Captain Frederick Hasselburg, master of the sealing brig, Perseverance. He named the island after his employers Robert Campbell and Co. of Sydney and sadly drowned later that year after a boat capsized in Perseverance Harbour. Campbell is a volcanic island with fascinating rock formations. 50 years ago, between 2 and 3 million Rock Hopper Penguins were nesting on the island but since then 90% have been decimated by bacterial infection. Erect Crested Penguins are found here in small numbers and less than 20 pairs of Wandering Albatross nest. Approximately 8,500 pairs of Royal Albatross and about 74,000 pairs of Black Browed Mollymawk also call the island home. Over 40 other breeds of birds including the Southern Royal Albatross have also been observed on Campbell Island.
Day 9: Auckland Islands
Orion's guests will cruise in Zodiacs in Sandy Bay on Enderby Island at the northern end of Auckland Island, to view a large Hooker Sea Lion colony with pups all jostling for position. If we are fortunate, we may see the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin as they move to and from their nests in the forests beyond the beach.
Day 10: At Sea
Prepare for you arrival at Macquarie Island and spend time watching seabirds
Day 11: Macquarie Island
Often described as one of the "wonder spots" of the world, the sub-Antarctic island of Macquarie has been said to rival South Georgia in its magnificence, scenic diversity and prolific wildlife. Designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and a World Heritage Site in 1977, Macquarie now operates a full-time manned station where biological and meteorological research is conducted. The station, located on the isthmus at Buckles Bay, is from where we will collect the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife rangers who will be our guides.
Sandy Bay, situated halfway down the island's eastern seaboard, is our planned landing site. The Zodiacs will traverse breakwaters of giant kelp before reaching rocky beaches where landing conditions can best be described as "wet and challenging". Once ashore you'll find the bay, with its rugged backdrop of mountains and tussockcovered headlands, is home to 20,000 breeding pair of royal penguins, king penguins, rock hopper penguins, gentoo penguins and elephant seals. This profusion of wildlife wasn't always so protected, the rusting remains of machinery used by whalers being stark reminders of the exploitation which took place on the island during its early history.
Days 12-14: At Sea
As you near the end of your expedition, enjoy the final days at sea with further lectures and recaps from the onboard expedition team
Day 15: At Sea
Set on the River Derwent, Hobart is very much a city of the sea with views of the Derwent estuary appearing around every corner. Historic 19th century waterfront warehouses remain, still bordering the commercial fishing harbour, though today it is easier to feast on seafood at one of the restaurants they now house. Hobart is the finishing line for the famed blue water Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and its deep harbour precinct once bustled with whalers, soldiers, petty bureaucrats and opportunistic businessmen. A walk through the town will reveal that the city has resisted the pressure to move with the times, having retained and preserved old buildings such as the Parliament built by convicts in the 1830's.
Designed and purpose built in Germany in 2003 specifically for expedition travel,National Geographic Orion was created from the outset to explore the far comers of the Earth in complete self-sufficiency.
Engineered for maximum comfort and safety, Orion is equipped with the latest technology including large retractable stabilizers, sonar, radar, and an ice-strengthened double hull. A shallow draft plus bow and stern thrusters provide the convenience of being able to maneuver close to shore. Ten Zodiacs ensure quick disembarkation and offer the ideal transport for up-close exploration.
National Geographic Orion meets strict specifications for environmental protection and the on board waste management systems meet the stringent Antarctic operational standards enabling us to travel to the most pristine environments. A host of advanced design features and technology ensures sustainable marine environmental practices.
The privilege of wildness and the luxury of comfort
National Geographic Orion accommodates 102 guests in 53 cabins, including several with balconies. She is spacious and modern, with a variety of public rooms that offer panoramic views of the passing landscape. Friendly and informal, Orionfosters a welcoming atmosphere where like-minded guests share in exceptional experiences and enrichment.
Her public rooms include a dramatic window-lined main lounge and library, as well as an observation lounge perched at the very top of the ship, plentiful observation decks. The spacious lounge is the heart of our expedition community, and is suited for spirited cocktail hours, informative presentations and our nightly tradition of Recap. In addition, a dedicated theater provides a unique setting for specialist presentations or films and slideshows. Both the main dining room and outside buffet easily accommodate all guests at once for open seating dining. On selected nights, weather permitting, our dining room menu is also available on the outside deck.
While Orion interiors are elegant, life aboard is always casual, with no need for formal clothing. And you’ll find shipboard services like laundry, in-room cabled internet, and public-area wifi make packing and traveling more convenient.
Length: 103 metres
Beam: 14.25 metres
Draft: 3.82 metres
Hull: Ice-reinforced for voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic
Ice Class: E3 (Germanischer Lloyd)
Gross Tonnage: 4,000
Engines: Mak; 8M25; 3,265HP
Speed: 15 knots. Cruise speed: 13 knots
Stabilisers: Blohm & Voss, retractable fin stabilisers
Manoeuvrability: Bow and stern thrusters
Delivery Date: November 2003
Builder: Cassens Shipyard-Emden, Germany
Staterooms and Suites: 53
Guest Capacity: 106 (twin occupancy)
Classification: Germanischer Lloyd 100 A5 E3 Passenger Ship MC E3 AUT
Regulations: Orion is built according to the latest international safety regulations, including those of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health, Canadian Arctic Shipping, and St. Lawrence Seaway.
Additional Craft: 10 Zodiac Heavy Duty MK5, 10 Kayaks, 2x12 passenger tenders
Communications: Direct-dial satellite telephones; fax; e-mail; Internet access; internal telephone system