Few people would know where these subtropical islands are. That is one of their many attractions, visitors are rare. They lie 1000km north-east of New Zealand about half way to Tonga and well off the main shipping routes.
Possibly as early as the 10th century, but certainly by the 14th century, Polynesians knew about these islands and had settled them, as well as using them as a staging post for voyages to New Zealand. However when Europeans discovered them in 1788 they had been abandoned and were uninhabited.
There are four islands within the Kermadec group and all are the summits of huge undersea volcanoes situated along the western edge of the Kermadec Trench, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. They have a unique assemblage of subtropical and temperate plant, bird and marine species, testimony to the process of evolution arising from climate and isolation.
Raoul Island was settled by the Bell family in 1878 and they finally left in 1914. Other settlers came and went, but permanent settlement was discouraged after 1939. The New Zealand government has maintained a weather station on the island since 1938. The introduced plants and animals left behind by the settlers have had a significant impact on the island's ecosystem, but now an ambitious conservation program is attempting to restore Raoul Island to its original splendor. The goats, cats and rats have been removed and many introduced plants controlled. Bird numbers and diversity are increasing and endemic plants are recovering, a testimony to what can be achieved with a vision and hard work.
An extensive Marine Reserve protects the unique marine ecosystem that surrounds these islands. With virtually no disturbance (certainly no fishing and only a handful of divers each year) the diving and snorkelling can only be described as amazing and unique. As with the terrestrial species there is both subtropical and temperate species to be encountered.
This is not an annual expedition. It is off the beaten track, even for us, but it is so rare to have the opportunity to explore such unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems that we are constantly drawn back. We hope you will join us on what will be our 6th Kermadec Island expedition.
Make your way to a central city meeting point (Reporting times and the departure time of the transfer will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The captain and expedition team will be waiting for your arrival at the ship to greet you and show you to your cabin. You will have the opportunity to unpack before exploring the ship and meeting other expeditioners, there will also be formal introductions to the team followed by safety briefings. We plan to sail late afternoon.
A day at sea is a chance to relax. Do some reading in the bar/library, or come birding up on the bridge. We will schedule a series of lectures, videos and briefings to prepare us for our visit to the Kermadecs. For the keen birders we will be sailing across deep waters – prime Pterodroma petrel country and we are likely to see an impressive variety of these birds. We are likely to encounter Black-winged, White-necked, Kermadec and Cook’s and there is always the chance of something really rare. If viewing conditions are good we stand a reasonable chance of seeing the mighty Sperm Whale and the elusive Cuvier’s Beaked Whale.
Today we continue our journey northwards, arriving in the afternoon at the southernmost island in the group: L’Esperance Rock. Later we visit Curtis and nearby Cheeseman Island. If the weather and sea conditions are suitable we will cruise by Zodiac (no landings are permitted).
All of these islands are havens for breeding seabirds and we are likely to encounter impressive numbers as we cruise offshore. In addition to the more common species, we will be on the lookout for White-bellied Storm-Petrel and the Kermadec White-faced Storm-Petrel. We are also likely to encounter some tropical seabirds that occur nowhere else in New Zealand, such as Masked Booby, Red-tailed Tropicbird, and Black Noddy.
We have four days scheduled for activities at Raoul Island, including options for snorkelling and hikes ashore. The weather and sea conditions will dictate our activities to a certain extent. The seas surrounding the Kermadecs are the only true example of subtropical waters in New Zealand, and are sufficiently distant from the mainland to have escaped heavy commercial fishing. The extensive Marine Reserve ensures added protection and guarantees some of the best diving in the South Pacific. We hope to offer opportunities to snorkel if weather allows.
During our time at Raoul Island we will also cruise the Meyer Islets by Zodiac to witness the seabirds returning to the Islets in the evenings. Many of these birds are endemic, including the Kermadec Petrel, the White Napped Petrel, and the Kermadec race of the Little Shearwater. On shore we can get great views of the endemic Kermadec Red-crowned Parakeet and it is also one of the easiest places to see Spotless Crakes. We should also get good views of Black Noddy, Grey Ternlet, White Tern and the beautiful Red-tailed Tropicbird.
The following are some of the walks that we maybe able to do on Raoul Island depending on weather and time.
• Boat Cove to the Department of Conservation Base
• Green Lake Walk
• Water Supply Walk
• Denham Bay Hut
• Mahoe Hut
We arrive at Macauley Island early in the morning. The original forest cover was destroyed by goats and since their removal in the 1970s the vegetation is recovering. Landings are not permitted on this island so we will Zodiac cruise if sea conditions are suitable.
These days present an opportunity to catch your breath after our activities at Raoul and Macauley Islands. Our staff will be offering lectures and further presentations on the islands and some of the conservation issues surrounding them.
Our vessel will berth in Tauranga this morning. Enjoy breakfast on board and a last minute opportunity to bid farewell to your expedition team then you disembark and board our complimentary coach transfer to the central city or local airport.
Cabins have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk, washbasin. The nearby showers and toilets are shared with other Main deck cabins.
Cabins have one bunk (an upper and lower – two), wardrobe, drawers, a desk, a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
Cabins have two lower berths, wardrobe, drawers, a desk and a private bathroom with shower, toilet and washbasin. These cabins have windows.
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.
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.
Landing Fees: 375 USD pp
Spirit of Enderby
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 72 metres
Passenger Capacity: 50
Built / refurbished: 1984 / 2004
The Spirit of Enderby is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition Travel.
She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in November 2004 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space.
On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.
The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.
The name Spirit of Enderby honours the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800’s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.
a) our fleet of RIB’s, (rigid inflatable boats) sometimes referred to as zodiacs. These extremely safe and stable craft will land you at some of the most amazing places.
Some departures are on the SHOKALSKIY - the sister ship to the SPIRIT OF ENDERBY