Known in birding circles as the ‘WPO', this expedition incorporates many key birding areas in the West Pacific. First offered in 2007, it is now considered one of the ‘must do' expeditions for any birder because of opportunities to see some of the rarest pelagic seabirds in the world plus many island endemics. But it is not only for ‘birders', as the cetacean list is outstanding and if you ever tire of birding or cetacean watching then there are numerous snorkelling/swimming/relaxing opportunities.
After departing Tauranga, we sail for the Hauraki Gulf where there are numerous endemic species, including the recently discovered New Zealand Storm-Petrel. From there it's northward to Norfolk Island and then New Caledonia where we search for the amazing Kagu and other endemics at the Rivière Bleue National Park.
We then spend five exciting days in the Solomon Islands birding on Rennell, Makira, Guadalcanal, Santa Isabel and Kolombangara, before cruising across the New Britain Trench, an area known to be extremely rich in cetaceans. As we sail along the coasts of Bougainville and New Ireland, we will look for two extremely poorly known seabirds, Heinroth's Shearwater and the recently rediscovered Beck's Petrel.
Next stop is Truk Island (Micronesia) for some more intensive birding before we set a course for the Bonin Islands south of Japan. Our route will take us to Chichi-jima, Haha-jima and Torishima Islands before we visit Miyake-jima, where we will look for the last specialities of the expedition. Our voyage will then conclude at Yokohama in Japan.
This expedition is accompanied by some of the best pelagic birding guides in the world who have extensive experience of the seabirds of the West Pacific and have visited the islands we will be landing on multiple times before. Birding starts at dawn and finishes at sundown. Our guides are there throughout the day to assist you and the ‘reading of the bird list' each evening is legendary for its detail and discussion.
A message for the keen birders and cetacean watchers reading this. Space doesn't allow us to list all species on a day-by-day basis in this itinerary. Please ask for an expedition dossier or a bird and mammal list from previous expeditions.
Arrive in Tauranga and transfer to the ship. Settle into your cabin and join your expedition team and captain for a welcome on board.
Our seabirding will start in the Hauraki Gulf where we will look for the critically endangered New Zealand Storm-Petrel as well as Little Penguin, Grey Ternlet, Buller’s, Fluttering and Little Shearwaters and Grey-faced and Black Petrels.
En route to Norfolk Island, we have a good chance of finding Gould’s, Black-winged, Kermadec, White-necked and Grey-faced Petrels, plus Wedge-tailed and Short-tailed Shearwaters.
After clearing Australian Customs, we plan to visit Norfolk Island’s remnant forest, home to four endemics – the Norfolk Island Parakeet, Norfolk Gerygone, Norfolk Robin and Slender-billed White-eye.
At sea on a northward course, we cross a large underwater seamount, a productive area for seabirds including Tahiti, Collared, White-necked, Providence and Kermadec Petrels.
Day 7: New Caledonia
We visit the Parc de la Rivière Bleue National Park where we will search for the endemics including the incomparable Kagu and highly range-restricted Crow Honeyeater. Other birds could include New Caledonian Goshawk, Horned and New Caledonian Parakeets, New Caledonian Imperial Pigeon, Southern Melanesian and New Caledonian Cuckoo-shrikes, Yellow-bellied Robin and Red-throated Parrotfinch.
We plan to visit waters where we have previously seen the ‘New Caledonian Storm-Petrel’. This bird was first found on the WPO expedition in 2008 and has been seen several times since. Although seemingly closely related to New Zealand Storm-Petrel, there are a number of important differences and it is now believed this is a long lost species which was collected in Samoa 200 years ago and not seen since !!
Other possibilities include Tahiti, Providence, Gould’s and Collared Petrels.
Enjoy leisurely days at sea and a chance to relax, catch up on notes, reading and sleep. Seabird possibilities include Tropical Shearwater and Polynesian Storm-Petrel.
This morning we will go ashore at Rennell Island where we hope to see Rennell Parrot, Rennell Shrikebill, Rennell Gerygone, Bare-eyed White-eye, Rennell White-eye, Rennell Fantail and Rennell Starling. Other species could include Silver-capped Fruit Dove, Finsch’s Pygmy Parrot, Melanesian Flycatcher and Cardinal Myzomela.
Makira Island holds its own treasures, including the endemic San Cristobal Melidectes, White-headed Fruit Dove, Makira Flycatcher, Makira Cicadabird, White-collared Monarch, Sooty Myzomela and Mottled Flowerpecker. Other species could include Chestnut-bellied, Red-knobbed and Island Imperial Pigeons as well as Pied Goshawk, Pacific Baza and Solomon Islands Sea-eagle.
We will anchor off Honiara and depart before dawn for Mount Austin. The birding here is exceptional and the specialities we could see include Ultramarine Kingfisher, Yellow-bibbed Lory, Ducorps’ Cockatoo, Solomons Cuckoo-shrike, Brown-winged Starling, Chestnut-bellied Monarch, Steel-Blue Flycatcher, Black-faced Myzomela and Midget Flowerpecker.
Enjoy a day on Santa Isabel and its surrounding islands as we explore the inlets and reef systems of the spectacular Poru Channel. We plan to land on Vakao Island and visit its verdant rainforest where we hope to find the highly localised Yellow-throated White-eye and Red-capped Myzomela plus Ultramarine Kingfisher. After lunch, snorkel and relax on a white sandy beach or return to the forest to look for Melanesian Megapode and Black-and-white Monarch.
We intend to head into the hills to visit the Imbu Rano Conservation Area to explore dense upland forest. We hope to see the spectacular Solomon Islands Sea Eagle, Cardinal, Duchess and Meek’s Lorikeets, White-capped Monarch, Crimson-rumped Myzomela, Ducorps’ Cockatoo and Metallic and Singing Starlings. We may also look for the elusive Roviana Rail as we leave the reserve. After we depart we will be scanning the seas for whales and dolphins as this is a good area for cetaceans. Birders will also want to keep a lookout for Heinroth’s Shearwater which can be found here too.
Today we are at sea off Bougainville and hope to see Heinroth’s Shearwater. These waters are also great for cetaceans including Sperm Whale, False Killer Whale and Fraser’s Dolphin
Today we cruise along the coast of New Ireland, where our target is the recently rediscovered Beck’s Petrel with another chance for Heinroth’s Shearwater. This is another area where a number of different species of cetaceans have been seen previously including Melon-headed Whale, Dwarf and Pygmy Sperm Whales and Orca.
We will cross the Equator and the species we will be on the lookout for include Bulwer’s Petrel, Tropical Shearwater, White-tailed Tropicbird and Sooty Tern.
On Weno Island we hope to find Caroline Islands White-eye, Micronesian Myzomela, Micronesian Starling, Oceanic Flycatcher, Caroline Reed Warbler, Caroline Ground-Dove, Caroline Islands Swiftlet and Purple-capped Fruit-Dove. There may also be an optional excursion to Tol South to look for Faichuuk White-eye and Chuuk Monarch.
The birding can be quiet but as we head northwards new species could include Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrel, Bonin Petrel as well as Bannerman’s and Christmas Shearwaters. As we approach the Bonin Islands, we stand a good chance of finding Humpback Whales which can occur here in reasonable numbers.
After clearing into Japan at Chichi-jima, we will explore the settlement looking for Japanese White-eye, Brown-eared Bulbul and Japanese Bush Warbler
We plan to spend the morning on Haha-jima, the only place in the world where the stunning Bonin Honeyeater can be found. In the late afternoon, we will look for the recently described and very rare Bryan’s Shearwater off the east coast of Chichi-jima.
Relax at sea as we sail north. Seabird possibilities include Tristram’s Storm-Petrel, Bonin Petrel and Bannerman’s Shearwater.
Landings are not permitted but we cruise offshore and hope to find Short-tailed Albatross. Other species could include Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses, Streaked Shearwater, Tristram’s and Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrels.
We plan to land on Miyake-jima and visit the Tsubota Nature Centre where the forest trails provide an opportunity to see endemics such as Izu Thrush, Ijima’s Leaf-warbler and Owston’s Tit. In the afternoon, we plan to cruise close to an islet where Japanese Murrelets breed before continuing north to Yokohama.
After breakfast and Japanese arrival formalities, you disembark the ship and board a complimentary transfer to Yokohama railway station.
Itineraries are subject to change.
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.
Discovery Fee: 600 USD pp
Spirit of Enderby
Vessel Type: Expedition
Length: 72 metres
Passenger Capacity: 50
Built / refurbished: 1984 / 2018
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.