Antarctica’s Ross Sea | Ultimate Travel Company

ITINERARY INSPIRATION

ROSS SEA & THE SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS

Experience nature on a grand scale on this unique polar journey combining the Ross Sea with New Zealand’s little-known Subantarctic Islands.
ROSS SEA & THE SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS, ANTARCTICA

ABOUT THE ITINERARY

Step aboard the ice-strengthened Heritage Adventurer for this 28-day expedition, and you’ll find yourself walking among vast penguin rookeries, visiting scientific bases, exploring historic explorers huts, walking on the ice and Zodiac cruising the ice edge.

The first part of the expedition explores the fascinating Subantarctic Islands. Lying in the south and east of New Zealand – in the great southern ocean that encircles Antarctica – these islands are tiny havens for some of the most abundant and unique wildlife on the planet. There’ll also be time to call in at Australia’s UNESCO-listed Macquarie Island.

You’ll then be introduced to one of the remotest places on Planet Earth – Antarctica’s Ross Sea. Very few people have ever explored this beautiful Antarctic territory, with opportunities for non-scientific personnel limited to a handful of tourist expedition ships in the brief austral summer.

You will share your journey with a passionate and knowledgeable expedition team, and a crew made up of some of the most experienced officers and sailors.

Yellow-eyed Penguin | Ultimate Travel Company
ITINERARY INSPIRATION

DESIGNED BY SPECIALISTS

Bear in mind, these are just a starting point as all holidays are customised to the specific requirements of our guests. Whether you prefer a different style of accommodation, a greater focus on a particular interest or to go to a different destination all together, every itinerary is created individually around your preferences.

Queenstown | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 1

QUEENSTOWN

Arrive in Queenstown, New Zealand’s world famous alpine resort town. You will be met and transferred to your hotel, where an informal get-together will be held over dinner – an excellent opportunity to meet your fellow adventurers and some of the expedition team.

Heritage Adventurer | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 2

PORT OF BLUFF

After breakfast, you’ll have the morning free to explore Queenstown before departing for the Port of Bluff where you’ll join your ship – the Heritage Adventurer – and begin your voyage. You will have time to settle into your cabin and familarise yourself with the ship before joining the expedition team up on the Observation Deck – setting course for The Snares.

The Snares – North East Island | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 3

THE SNARES – NORTH EAST ISLAND

Comprising two main islands and a smattering of rocky islets, The Snares are the closest Subantarctic Islands to mainland New Zealand. They are uninhabited and highly protected, with more nesting seabirds found here than in the entirety of the British Isles (including hundreds of thousands of sooty shearwaters).

Landings are not permitted, but you’ll be able to cruise along the sheltered eastern side of islands’ rugged coastline by Zodiac. In the sheltered bays, look out for the endemic Snares crested penguin, Snares Island tomtit and fernbirds. Cape pigeons and Antarctic terns are also present in good numbers, while the indigenous Buller’s albatross return here to nest around Christmas time each year.

Auckland Islands – Enderby Island | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 4

AUCKLAND ISLANDS – ENDERBY ISLAND

Next stop on your adventure is the Auckland Islands, an isolated speck of an archipelago in the Southern Pacific Ocean. Formed by the eruption of two volcanoes some 10-25 million years ago, it is known today as an outstanding wildlife and birding destination, providing refuge for thousands of birds and sea lions. It also has a colourful past of shipwrecks, treasure and attempts at human settlement.

The northernmost Enderby Island is one of the most beautiful in the group, and is relatively easy explore on foot. You’ll land at Sandy Bay, one of three breeding areas in the Auckland Islands for the rare New Zealand sea lion. You’ll also find beachmaster bulls gathering on the beach defending their harems. For keen twitchers, birds that you are likely to encounter include the following species: southern royal albatross, northern giant petrel, Auckland Island shag, redcrowned parakeet and the yellow-eyed penguin.

At Sea | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 5

AT SEA

Whilst at sea on day five, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the biology and history of the Subantarctic Islands and the Southern Ocean through a series of onboard lectures and presentations. You can also head to the Observation Deck to look out for all the different varieties of albatross and petrals that frequent the area. This is potentially some of the best pelagic (open sea) ‘birding’ on the expedition.

Macquarie Island | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 6-7

MACQUARIE ISLAND

You now arrive at Australia’s prized Subantarctic possession: the UNESCO-listed Macquarie Island. Prepare to discover one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Ocean, including millions of penguins (king, rockhopper, gentoo and the endemic royal) who form substantial colonies here. Your time will be divided between two landing sites, Sandy Bay and Buckles Bay, as well as a Zodiac cruise at Lusitania Bay if weather allows.

At Sandy Bay, visit a Royal Penguin rookery brimming with feisty little birds trotting back and forth, their golden head plumes bobbing as they march to and from the shore. All three million of the world’s Royal Penguins breed on Macquarie Island. Some of the best observations can be had by simply sitting and letting the birds, who are both unafraid and inquisitive, come to you.

A guided tour at Buckles Bay will introduce you to the Australian Antarctic Division Base which has been continuously manned since the late 1940s. Large groups of Southern Elephant Seals slumber on the beaches at both of our landing sites, whilst younger bulls spar in the shallow water. Fur seals and albatross also make an appearance.

The King Penguin rookery at Lusitania Bay is both noisy and spectacular. A welcoming committee will likely huddle around the Zodiacs as a quarter of a million King Penguins stand at attention on shore.

At Sea | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 8-10

AT SEA

Soaring albatross and petrels will circle the vessel as it steams ever southward through the Southern Ocean. Lectures now concentrate on Antarctica and the Ross Sea region. The temperature of the water will indicate when the vessel has crossed the Antarctic Convergence into the cold but extremely productive Antarctic waters. Admire the colours and extraordinary shapes of the drifting icebergs – each a unique natural sculpture. The captain will manoeuvre the ship in close for your first ice photograph and we will celebrate as we pass the Antarctic Circle and into Antarctica’s realm of 24-hour daylight!

Antarctica’s Ross Sea | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 11-22

ANTARCTICA’S ROSS SEA

The next 10 days or so will be spent exploring the Ross Sea region, sometimes referred to as ‘the heart of Antarctica’. Entering this part of Antarctica is a rare privilege, with only a few hundred people able to visit each year. Due to the unpredictable nature of ice and weather conditions, a day-by-day itinerary cannot be provided. Instead, the Captain and Expedition Leader will assess daily conditions and take advantage of every opportunity to make landings or send you out in the Zodiacs.

What you can be sure of is a programme full of wildlife viewing, key scientific bases and historic sites, as well as the spectacular scenery of the coastal terrain, the glaciers and icebergs of the Ross Sea. Sites you may visit include:

Cape Hallett

The scenery here is wild and spectacular; mountains rear up towering out of the sea to over 4,000-metres high and giant glaciers course down from the interior to the water’s edge.

Cape Adare

At the tip of the Ross Sea, the site of the largest Adelie Penguin rookery in Antarctica. Surrounded by a sea of penguins is Borchgrevink’s Hut, the oldest in Antarctica, an overwintering shelter and relic of the first expedition to the continent in 1899.

Ross Ice Shelf

The largest ice shelf in Antarctica is also the world’s largest body of floating ice. Just 1,287 kilometres from the South Pole, this daunting spectacle prevented many early Antarctic explorers from venturing further south. Cruise eastward along the shelf front, with its spectacular 30-metre high ice cliffs, which sometimes calve tabular icebergs.

Terra Nova Bay

Home to the Italian summer research station of Statzione Mario Zucchelli, an interesting shipping container construction. Claim to have the best ‘espresso’ in Antarctica!

Watching On Deck | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 23-25

AT SEA

Today, enjoy a series of lectures designed to prepare you for your visit to Campbell Island the following day. Pelagic species abound here as they did en route to Macquarie Island earlier in the voyage. Above all, take the time to rest and enjoy shipboard life after the excitement of the Antarctic.

Campbell Island – Perseverance Harbour | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 26

CAMPBELL ISLAND – PERSEVERANCE HARBOUR

Your last port of call is Campbell Island – New Zealand’s southernmost Subantarctic territory. Spend the day exploring the island’s rugged scenery, unique flora and abundant wildlife on foot from Perseverance Harbour. Highlights include a walk to the hilltop breeding sites of the Southern Royal Albatross – a bird with the largest wingspan in the world. Over six thousand pairs breed on Campbell Island.

Perseverance Harbour itself is an occasional refuge for Southern Right Whales who come here to calve. You’ll also find Campbell Island shags, penguins, fur seals and rare Hooker’s sea lions, as well as an abandoned New Zealand meteorological station.

Outside Observation Deck | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 27

AT SEA

You now have time to relax and reflect on your amazing voyage en route back to the Port of Bluff. The team will recap the highlights of the expedition, and host a farewell dinner as you sail to your final port.

Queenstown Airport | Ultimate Travel Company
Day 28

INVERCARGILL/QUEENSTOWN

Arrive in the Port of Bluff early this morning. After a final breakfast, bid farewell to your fellow voyagers and take the complimentary coach transfer to either Invercargill or Queenstown Airport, where you will board your return flight home.

THE PRICE BREAKDOWN
28 days from £25,500 per person

PRICE INCLUDES

  • Pre/post cruise transfers
  • Accommodation and all meals aboard the Heritage Adventurer
  • All shore excursions in the Ross Sea and the Subantarctic Islands
  • Programme of lectures by noted naturalists
  • One night accommodation in Queenstown (including breakfast and dinner)

PRICE EXCLUDES

  • International and domestic flights
  • Visas and travel insurance
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ITINERARY INSPIRATION

Ross Sea & The Subantarctic Islands | Ultimate Travel Company
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