Join me on an expedition to Antarctica (Ross Sea region) via NZ’s Subantarctic Islands with Heritage Expeditions – a trip of a lifetime. Over the next several days I will post stories and photos of our adventures.
Sitting at home in the midst of yet another Covid lockdown, I began to think about travel and what I would be most disappointed that I hadn’t managed to see if I wasn’t able to travel ever again. My top two places were Antarctica and Africa (both with incredible scenery and wildlife). With Africa likely to be harder hit by the pandemic, I started to look into Antarctic expeditions. Everyone I knew at that stage who had been to Antarctica had travelled via South America and all the trips I had previously investigated left from there.
Then I discovered Heritage Expeditions, a New Zealand company that has pioneered conservation-driven small ship expeditions to some of the most wild, least-explored and biologically rich regions on the planet. The trips are designed for birders, photographers, wildlife enthusiasts, conservationists, or just those with an adventurous spirit. It sounded perfect! And even better – the trips depart from Bluff, NZ so I wouldn’t have to travel anywhere else to join. My friend Anne (who I’ve known since intermediate school) was keen to come with me, and we are both celebrating milestone birthdays – it will be a trip of a lifetime.
Heritage Expeditions runs two trips to Antarctica each year via the Subantarctic Islands: In the Wake of Scott & Shackleton.
The Ross Sea region of Antarctica is one of the most remote places on Planet Earth and one of the most fascinating places in the continent’s human history. With shipping restricted by impenetrable pack ice to just two brief months each austral summer, few people have ever visited this strange and beautiful territory, with opportunities for non-scientific personnel limited to a handful of tourist expedition ships.
It is now over 100 years since the end of the heroic’ or ‘golden age’ of exploration, but the dramatic landscape described by these early explorers is unchanged. Mt Erebus, Mt Discovery and the Transantarctic Mountains are as inspiring today as they were when they were visited by Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton and all the other famous names.
There is so much to do and so much to see here, from exploring historic huts and sites to visiting penguin rookeries, marveling at the glacial ice tongues and ice shelves, and understanding the icebergs and sea ice. Then there are all the seabirds, seals and whales to observe and photograph, modern scientific bases and field camps to visit and simply the opportunity to spend time drinking in the marvelous landscape that has always enthralled visitors.
Lying like stepping stones to the Antarctic continent are the little known Subantarctic Islands. The journey also includes The Snares, Auckland, Macquarie and Campbell Islands. The Subantarctic Islands are tiny havens for some of the most abundant and unique wildlife on the planet, and are all Nature Reserves and World Heritage sites.
The voyage is on the fully equipped and ice-strengthened Norwegian-built ship Heritage Adventurer, specifically designed for polar exploration and with an impressive record for the most northern and southern Arctic and Antarctic navigations, and for traversing both the Northwest and Northeast Passages. It is also “crewed by some of the most experienced officers and sailors in the world and staffed by a passionate and knowledgeable expedition team”. The ship accommodates 140 expeditioners and a fleet of Zodiacs ensures everyone can go out on all the adventures.
Day 1-2: Meeting and Departure
Day 3: The Snares
Day 4: Auckland Islands – Enderby Island
Day 5: At Sea
Day 6: Macquarie Island
Day 7: Macquarie Island
Day 8: At Sea
Day 9: At Sea
Day 10: At Sea
Day 11: At Sea
Day 12: Cape Adare, Antarctica
Day 13: Possession Islands
Day 14: At Sea, Coulman Island
Day 15: At Sea
Day 16: At Sea
Day 17: At Sea, Ross Ice Shelf
Day 18: Cape Bird/McMurdo Sound
Day 19: Cape Bird/McMurdo Sound
Day 20: Cape Evans/Cape Royds
Day 21: At Sea
Day 22: At Sea
Day 23: At Sea
Day 24: At Sea
Day 25: At Sea
Day 26: At Sea/Campbell Island
Day 27: Final Day at Sea