The Sub Antarctic Islands of New Zealand and Australia
To the South of New Zealand is a boundless sweep of ocean staked out by six group of Islands. They reside in
the stormiest waters in the world known as the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties where winds circle the world
unimpeded. All of these islands are World Heritage sites. All of these islands limit annual visits to a few hundred
people and an employee of the New Zealand park service must accompany all trips to the New Zealand Islands.
Our venture with Heritage Expeditions began on Monday, November 5th, at 1:00 p.m. from Bluff (Invercargill) with
the sailing of our Russian research ship, the Spirit of Enderby, which carries 48 passengers. The wind was strong
and we were warned it would be challenging. The waters were so turbulent that more than half the passengers failed
to show for dinner. Several of those who came abandoned their plates uneaten, and less than one in seven had
desert that evening..
Our first stop was the Snares Islands. The islands got this name from the many sailing ships that wrecked on the
shores of these islands. Sailing ships from Australia often sought to go to Europe via the south westerly winds.
Unfortunately, the charts were not accurate and many ships wound up sinking at the Snares.
The Snares Islands are unique in that they remained free from any mammals or introduced vegetation. Because of
their fragile nature we were not permitted to land, but did Zodiac the protected side of the island.
The most enjoyable bird on the island was the Snares Crested Penguin, a species unique to this island. These
penguins come ashore and climb the steep rocks to nest under the trees.
Snares Crested Penguins in the water.
Cape Petrols at Snares Island.
Our friends, the Cape Petral, followed
us almost everywhere on the trip, just
gliding and rarely flapping their wings
(left and below). In addition to the
Cape Petral, we experienced many
other birds at sea including numerous
species of Albatross.
The Snares Crested Penguin only exists in the Snares. There are about 100 colonies on the larger island. The
Penguins gather in groups and sometimes hop up on low lying branches of the trees.