In January 2024, Coral Expeditions will embark on our inaugural exploration of the sub-Antarctic islands of Australia and New Zealand. Long standing expedition and product leader, Steve Cox, shares the anticipation and planning considerations that go into the voyage along with insights into the diverse birdlife, captivating marine species, and unique flora that awaits us on our journey to Stewart Island, Auckland Island, Campbell Island, and Macquarie Island.
As the anticipation builds the team are deeply immersed in a world of imagination, tempered with detailed logistics and planning. We envision the wonders that lie ahead in the subantarctic islands of Australia and New Zealand. As an expedition leader preparing for an inaugural voyage in the remote Southern Ocean, I am filled with pure excitement about the diverse ecosystems and extraordinary wildlife that await us on Stewart Island, Auckland Island, Campbell Island, and Macquarie Island. Visiting these shores have long been a goal for many of our expedition team and seafarers and we have heard amazing tales from crew who have been before. Over the past decade, we have explored much of the wild Southern Ocean coastlines on itineraries in New Zealand, Tasmania, South Australia and across the Great Australian Bight. Pushing boundaries further afield into the sub-Antarctic feels like a natural progression and in keeping with our pioneering spirit.
Stewart Island, our gateway to this untouched wilderness promises a tapestry of birdlife waiting to be discovered. Nestled amidst pristine forests and rugged coastlines, the island boasts a sanctuary for a remarkable variety of avian species. Here holds the promise of encounters with the elusive kiwis, their unique calls echoing through the dense foliage. The Stewart Island robin, a symbol of resilience, is sure to captivate us with its lively antics. And the vibrant plumage of the Kaka, a true marvel of nature, will add a splash of colour to our journey. I can almost hear the chorus of birdsong that will greet us as we venture into this avian wonderland.
Continuing our journey southward, Auckland Island beckons with its untamed and rugged beauty. Its rocky shores provide a haven for seals and sea lions, offering us a front-row seat to their playful antics. The sight of the Hooker’s sea lion basking in the sun, their calls resonating through the chilled air, will undoubtedly leave us in awe of their grace and power. And as we explore the island’s rugged cliffs, the red-crowned parakeets will enchant us with their acrobatic flights among the trees. Above us, the regal southern royal albatross will soar, a true testament to the island’s untouched majesty.
Our expedition would not be complete without a visit to Campbell Island, an otherworldly paradise that seems to exist beyond the realm of imagination. This UNESCO World Heritage Site holds the promise of an unforgettable experience as we witness the breathtaking spectacle of seabirds in their natural habitat. We will all be amongst a special few to experience southern royal albatrosses and wandering albatrosses fill the air with their graceful flight. Their impressive wingspans will leave us in awe of nature’s grandeur and power. And beneath the waves, the marine life will offer a world of wonder, with the promise of orcas and dusky dolphins frolicking in the frigid waters, while massive elephant seals rule the shoreline.
The final jewel in our expedition, awaits us with its sublime beauty and unique wildlife. We will discover the royal penguins whose dapper appearance and comical waddling promises moments of joy. The rocky shores will teem with life as Antarctic fur seals assert their dominance and leopard seals lurk offshore, a reminder of the delicate balance of predator and prey. As we step ashore amidst the tussock grass, we will find a vibrant tapestry of mosses, lichens, and unique megaherbs that thrive in this challenging environment, a testament to the resilience of life.
This will be an epic adventure and another historic milestone for our guests and crew. These subantarctic sanctuaries hold the promise of captivating encounters with an array of birdlife, sea life, and flora that few have the privilege to witness. I can only imagine the awe and wonder that will fill our hearts as we embark on this unforgettable expedition, exploring the outermost reaches of our planet.
Steve Cox – Product Development Executive
Steve has been guiding guests as an Expedition Leader with Coral Expeditions for many years, taking guests to all of the amazing destinations offered by the company. In 2022 Steve joined the Product Development team based in our office in Cairns, and spends his time developing and planning a range of itineraries, including the World Heritage Islands of the Sub-Antarctic.