While many of you will have been enjoying Christmas and New Year holidays wearing shorts and jandals at the beach, I was at the Southern-most end of the country wearing a thick padded parka, waterproof pants and gumboots – and I can tell you it was one amazing expedition. I was onboard the exploration ship
cruising down to islands the average New Zealander will quite possibly not even know where they are.
There was the Bounty Island, Antipodes Islands, Campbell Island, Auckland Islands and The Snares. These five islands, below Stewart Island, are home to an abundance and diversity of seabirds and marine mammals. They are also World Heritage sites designated by UNESCO.
Some of the islands are desolate rocky outcrops, inhabited only by bird life and not suited to cruise ship or zodiac landings. Others were more suited with well-established boardwalks providing excellent paths for trekking among the flora and fauna and rare bird life.
It was with much excitement, along with fellow passengers, when we were able to scramble ashore at Campbell Island and trek along the Col Lyall Saddle Boardwalk. The fourhour round trip was mostly on a well-constructed wooden boardwalk. It was graded moderately difficult with steep parts in places and ascending 260-metres. Campbell Island has the main population of Southern royal albatrosses and it was amazing to come across these massive birds sitting in isolation on their nests.
At the Auckland Islands, it seemed strange visiting these islands as I live in Auckland, yet these islands were about as far away from Auckland City as you get in New Zealand. The Auckland Islands are also where eight known ships have wrecked on, or around, its shores. The with its hold full of gold was the most famous of these.
On arrival at Enderby Island [one of the Auckland Islands] I took the opportunity to do another boardwalk trek, this time to the Northern Cliffs of the island. This is where we came across the rare yellow-eyed penguins, New Zealand bellbird and red-crowned parakeet – as well as the world’s rarest sea lion, the New Zealand hooker.
These treks were very invigorating in pristine weather conditions with no pollution from vehicles, industrial plants or human population. Sure the temperature was a little cooler and there was some wind, but uncharacteristically for these islands, the sun was out and there was no rain in sight.
did have a gym onboard, but I must admit, I only worked out on the cardio equipment on one of the 14 days at sea.
I know you will all have a different story as to what you got up to over the holidays, although I suspect this may have involved putting on a pair of swimming togs, rather than a thick parka.
Lorraine Thomson Publisher / Editor