New Zealands Subantarctic Islands cruise

“This 13-day expedition into the furthest reaches of the Southern Ocean reveals islands bursting with life: endemic penguins, petrels, albatross, giant herbs and elephant seals.”


Island groups: Snares, Auckland, Campbell & Macquarie | Many different penguin species | Nesting site of southern royal albatross | Flowering megaherbs | Remains of early settlements & coastwatcher's huts | Sea kayaking round the coast | Elephant seals | Seabirds including Antarctic & white-fronted terns, red billed gulls, fernbirds, tomtits, eight species of petrel, six species of albatross & more | Whale watching from the ship's bridge | Meeting park rangers on Macquarie Island

Description of New Zealands Subantarctic Islands cruise

These remote specks of land, peeking out of the waves far below New Zealand, have been coined the ‘Galapagos of the Southern Ocean’ – and with good reason. Our 13-day expedition cruise aboard the Spirit of Enderby takes you to the Snares, Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie Island groups to discover the incredible and unique biodiversity that few people will ever witness.

The islands are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and are protected by the governments of Australia and New Zealand in recognition of their value as wildlife refuges. This conservation status is hugely important – as the only dry land for many miles, they provide important nesting, feeding and breeding grounds for seabirds, seals, sea lions and penguins.

The Subantarctic Islands are in a cool, temperate zone of the Southern Ocean, a harsh environment that nonetheless has supported thriving wildlife and surreal megaherbs. Surprisingly, they also have a rich human history which you will learn about during the expedition. Macquarie Island is known as ‘one of the wonder spots of the globe’, is the most remote – and for many passengers it is the highlight of the trip.

Voyage highlights:
* Comfortable cabins on-board the ice-strengthened expedition vessel, the Spirit of Enderby
* See a variety of penguin species including king, royal, Snares crested, gentoo and rockhopper
* Witness the seabird nesting extravaganza on North East Island, The Snares
* Explore wildlife-rich rugged coastlines by sea kayak
* Nesting site of southern royal albatross on Campbell
* Human history - Coastwatcher’s Huts, early settlements and shipwreck tales
* Sea lions, fur seals and elephant seals
* Rolling hills of flowering megaherbs

Travel Team

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Check dates, prices & availability

30 Nov 2020
US $7750
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 30 Nov 2020 departure
11 Dec 2020
US $7500
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 11 Dec 2020 departure
21 Nov 2021
US $7750
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 21 Nov 2021 departure
30 Nov 2021
US $7750
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 30 Nov 2021 departure
18 Dec 2021
US $7500
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 18 Dec 2021 departure

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your vacation will help support conservation and local people.

This Southern Ocean program visits the Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia, and the Antarctic Continent. All of the islands are nature reserves, and the majority are World Heritage Sites. With our long involvement in these islands (over 35 years) we have been instrumental in developing responsible visitor guidelines.

We work closely with the Department of Conservation (DOC) to ensure that our impact on New Zealand's National Parks and reserves is minimal. We are an approved concession holder, ensuring that your visit with us to conservation areas adheres to best practice and contributes to the management of these protected areas.

All waste generated on our expeditions is disposed of in a responsible manner. The vessel complies with MARPOL where possible and allowable we practice recycling, otherwise all non-recyclable waste is brought back for disposal at approved sites.

Our goal in managing our vessel is to minimise fuel consumption and emissions with regular servicing and a proactive maintenance programme. We annually clean and antifoul our vessel's hull to reduce the risk of biofouling. When selecting our specialist expedition equipment, we research this carefully to ensure that they are the most suitable and environmentally responsible.

Group sizes are kept small to minimize impact and enhance visitor experience.

The Impacts of this Trip

This particular trip takes us to Macquarie Island where we have strict provisions set by AQIS and TASPAWS. We must ensure we follow these conditions which include the management of visitor numbers, food distribution and rubbish removal.

We work very closely with the New Zealand Department of Conservation and the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service to assist with the administration and protection of the Subantarctic Islands.

Government representatives are onboard each of our visits to the islands on this voyage. They act within an observer role and report back to the New Zealand Department of Conservation as to the standards of environmental consideration we make on our voyages. To date our standards have been
impeccable as this is part of the objective of our operations.

In March 2016, we operated a conservation voyage in partnership with Forest & Bird to the Kermadec Islands where a portion of the voyage's profits go towards Forest & Bird's valuable conservation work. We have also operated a "Cruise for Conservation" to the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands and 5% of the fare is given to a specific conservation cause. The following agencies have benefited: Save the Albatross, Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust and Marine Mammal Research Trust.

We provide heavily subsidized transport for conservation workers and equipment to the Southern Ocean islands. Money is raised from the sale of photographs, books and DVD’s to support the reforestation of an area of native New Zealand forest purchased by the company. The company employs a part-time Conservation Officer.

We partner with Enderby Trust to provide Scholarships for young people, who could not otherwise afford to travel, to join their expeditions. We also have active membership in a number of conservation and travel organizations, including IAATO (International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators).

We have taken a proactive role in research, funding and publishing books on these islands. To date the company has published two books, “Straight through from London” a history of the Bounty and Antipodes Islands; and the “Galapagos of the Antarctic – Wild Islands south of New Zealand”.


1 Reviews of New Zealands Subantarctic Islands cruise

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 02 Dec 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The wildlife.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Don't go on this ship: it is old and uncomfortable.
Booking a mini-suite was expensive and turned out to be most inconvenient. It was certainly good having ones own toilet and shower, however the bed
arrangement was terrible. The bed was enclosed in a box with only a small corner free for getting in or getting out of bed. If one had to get up in the night
one had to wake one's partner to get out of bed and back in again, as one had to climb over one's partner to get out of the bed. There was plenty of room in
the main cabin area for the bed to be free standing in the main space with the convenience of 2 sides and the end being open, as any normal bed is; with
both sides having a bedside tables. (There was no space for a bedside tables in the box - none at all!). The bench seat and the table from the main area should
have been in the area where the bed was. More hooks on the walls for wet clothes would also be helpful - there was plenty of space for this. There was also
limited handhold rails in the cabin and in the bathroom. We were often smashed against the walls as there was no-where appropriate to hold on in the
rough weather. Storage space was good. We felt that the cost of this cabin was far too much considering that it was so inconvenient. We would never book a
trip on this ship, or its sister ships again.
I can provide photos if required.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It supported conservation and had minimal environmental impact.
The expert staff were very good, but few of them knew how to give everyone on zodiacs reasonable viewing. This severely limited one's ability to take video
and photographs in what was already difficult conditions. And one staff member persisted in driving the zodiac at a very fast speed, especially when
returning to the ship, which on choppy seas or big swells made the journeys very uncomfortable. It was totally unnecessary to speed, as several minutes
added to the tour would be neither here nor there and would be much more comfortable for the passengers. On one occasion another staff member even
told this person to "take it easy". Lectures were informative and interesting. The tour leader was very personable and well organised.
The meals were not of a standard commensurate with the cost of the vacation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Read the operator's response here:

We are disappointed to learn that Ms Fooks’ experience did not live up to her expectations. We have a transparency first policy when marketing our
authentic, small-ship expedition voyages and our passengers’ safety and comfort are our main priorities. Built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic
research, our expedition vessel Spirit of Enderby accommodates a maximum of just 50 passengers and has recently undergone a refurbishment to
increase their on-board comfort levels.

However, the very nature of expedition cruising and choosing to explore the most remote and seldom visited islands, means passengers can sometimes feel
out of their comfort zone, particularly when we encounter rough seas. With over 30 years experience operating expeditions in the southern ocean, which is
renowned for its heavy seas, we are very familiar with the requirements for sailing in these waters. Our cabin configurations have been designed with this in
mind to create the safest and most comfortable spaces within the cabin parameters, while our on-board heavy seas mantra “One hand for yourself, one
hand for the ship” reiterates the need to keep safe at all times while moving around the vessel. We are grateful for Ms Fooks’ feedback regarding cabin
handrails and hooks and it is something which we constantly monitor to ensure the ideal combination between safety and comfort.

We are very proud of our exceptional staff whose tireless efforts ensure safe, memorable, educational and exciting voyages for our passengers. During
Zodiac cruises we endeavour to give everyone an equal opportunity to record and enjoy the scenery and wildlife, where safety and conditions permit. We
would have hoped she would have noted her issue so it could have been dealt with during the voyage. While well below guideline speeds, we can appreciate
the conditions may have made this unpleasant for her and all of our drivers are trained to consider the individual comfort of each passenger. We are also
extremely proud of our galley of international chefs who, occasionally under trying circumstances, create hearty, international-quality cuisine which is
regularly cited among the voyage highlights of our passengers.

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