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World Heritage Islands of the Sub-Antarctic

Bluff to Melbourne12 nightsAll InclusiveFrom $14,420.00* PP

Deep in the Southern Ocean, the World Heritage islands of the Australian and New Zealand sub-Antarctic are home to rare seabirds and marine mammals which have thrived in rugged isolation. Our small ship expedition, with its complement of Zodiacs and Xplorer tender vessels, will take guests up close to these desolate islands – the last landfall before Antarctica. This is seal and penguin country.

Accompanied by expert guides and our familiar Australian crew, join a small group of like-minded explorers on Coral Expeditions’ inaugural expedition adventures into the sub-Antarctic.

  • Visit the largely untouched World Heritage areas of Snares Island Group, Auckland Islands, Campbell Islands, and the renowned wildlife sanctuary of Macquarie Island
  • Take part in rare opportunity to walk the rocky shorelines of Auckland and Campbell Islands
  • On Zodiac excursions, observe King and Royal penguin colonies at Lusitania Bay
  • Enjoy guided walks on Macquarie Island with Park Rangers and encounter rare flora including fields of megaherbs, mosses and lichens
  • Learn about the history and heritage of early explorers and settlers in these remote islands
  • Encounter the “world’s loneliest tree” – a Sitka Spruce – which is more than 200 km from the next closest tree on Auckland Island


MAP World Heritage Islands of Sub Antarctic_Bluff_Melbourne_12 Nights

Coral Geographer in Port

Enjoy a complimentary transfer by coach from Queenstown after check-in to board at 4:00pm in Bluff, New Zealand. There is time to settle into your stateroom before our 5:00pm departure. Explore Coral Geographer and all her facilities including wrap-around Promenade Deck, Open Bridge with Navigator Lounge, Vista Deck, Lounge, Gym and Cocktail Bars. As dusk falls, meet your fellow travellers and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.

Macquarie Island - King Penguins

This morning, we sail into our first sub-Antarctic anchorage at the Snares Islands which were discovered by two English ships in 1791 and given their name because they were thought to be a shipping hazard. This small group of islands, also known as Tini Heke, are the most northern of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands and are mostly bordered by steep cliffs. They are one of the most pristine places in New Zealand, as they were spared whaling and sealing activities in the 19th century. These islands are protected as part of the sub-Antarctic Island World Heritage Site and landing ashore is prohibited.

If weather permits, we will cruise along the sheltered eastern side of the island to observe the seabirds which breed on the forested Northeast Island.  The island is populated by megaherbs, some of which are rare and unique, such as the large tree daisy and stilbocarpa, and is home to many endemic bird species, including the Snares Penguin, which has more than 100 colonies on the islands. The sooty shearwater nests here in enormous numbers and are joined by Buller’s albatross, the mottled petrel and the brown skua.  The exposed coastlines also provide a breeding and resting area for New Zealand fur seals and New Zealand seal lions.

Megaherd 420x250

Lying 360 kilometres south of Stewart Island, the Auckland Islands is a group of eight rugged islands, positioned close to each other and separated by narrow sea channels. Dominated by the remains of two 12-million-year-old volcanoes, the islands are the largest of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands known for their steep cliffs and towering mountains and 196 native species of flora

Making our way here means crossing an often-tempestuous sea, but when we reach the Auckland Islands, we can drop anchor in the lee of the islands. The weather here is usually damp and overcast, without being very cold. Evidence exists of Polynesian voyagers having settled here as early as the 13th century. During the sealing era, many ships were wrecked in this region and relics of this period remain, including the ruins of huts and gravestones.

These islands are beautiful and striking, with cliffs rising from the sea and slopes blooming with New Zealand native plants such as southern rata and megaherbs. These unusual forests are home to many unique birds and carry fascinating stories of shipwrecked seamen and wartime coastwatchers.

Here, we will go ashore at Enderby Island to spend time birdwatching.  Spot myriad rare birds which nest here, including the Southern Royal albatross, Northern giant petrel, Auckland Island shag, red-crowned parakeet, and yellow-eyed penguin. At Sandy Bay, you may also spot the Hooker’s sea lion.

On Auckland Island, we explore the remains of Hardwicke Settlement at Port Ross which was abandoned after three years in the early 1800s. If weather permits, there may be an opportunity to climb the slopes to observe the shy albatross colony nesting in the tussock grass. Later, we may cruise by Zodiac or Xplorer through the sheltered inlets of Carnley Harbour, climbing through rata forest to take in the views from a vantage point, or visiting a historic site on the islands.

Numerous heritage sites abound here including:

  • Castaway Finger Posts which guided shipwrecked sailors to castaway depots
  • Sandy Bay Boatshed which was a lifeline for shipwrecked survivors to row to
  • Stella Hut, a surviving castaway depot
  • Enderby Settlement – an ill-fated planned settlement
  • Derry Castle grave site on Enderby Island
  • World War Two lookout huts designed to keep watch for enemy naval vessels
  • The expedition site where a rare sighting of Venus was recorded to measure the Earth’s distance from the sun
Royal Albatross

600 km south of Stewart Island, windswept Campbell Island is one of the main islands within the sub-Antarctic Islands World Heritage Site, and New Zealand’s most southern island.  Over many years it was the location for sealing, whaling, and farming endeavours, but was declared a nature reserve in 1954. Since that time, introduced animals have been eradicated, including cattle, sheep, cats and rats. This has allowed native wildlife, birdlife, and vegetation to recover and be reintroduced.

The rugged island is mostly surrounded by cliffs, which rise to 300 metres on the south and west sides. Three distinct harbours are carved into the eastern side of the island, and at the end of the long Perseverance Harbour is the location for a meteorological station, now automated.  The island is in the weather path and plays a key role in measurements and monitoring.

The steep hills and slopes of Campbell Island are covered with megaherbs – characterised by their huge leaves and colourful flowers. These unusual plants include the Campbell Island daisy, the silver leaf daisy and the Campbell Island carrot.  These plants create a colourful display in summer, leading English botanist Joseph Hooker to describe it as a ‘flora display second to none outside the tropics’.

Sharing the space with these remarkable plants are the equally remarkable albatrosses. Six types of albatross breed on the island, including the enormous Southern Royal Albatross. It is also possible to spot many other species include petrels, shearwaters, terns, and shags.  The rare yellow-eyed and eastern rockhopper penguins are also found on the island.

Here, we will anchor in Perseverance Harbour and go ashore at Beeman Base, where a hike along a marked trail enables us to get a close view of the flora and fauna of the island. You may have the opportunity to visit the ‘world’s loneliest tree’, a Sitka spruce over 100 years old, which is more than 200 km from the next closest tree on Auckland Island. We may also cruise the harbours by tender to view the basalt columns, kelp forests, fur seals and sea lions.

Macquarie Island - Penguins

Discovered in 1810 by the Australian sealer Frederick Hasselborough, Macquarie Island is one of Mother Nature’s wonders. Perched halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica, it was used as a halfway mark for the first radio link between Australia and Antarctica during Sir Douglas Mawson’s 1911 expedition. Macquarie Island Research Station was established in 1948. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1997 due to its outstanding natural values, it is the only location on the planet where rocks from the earth’s mantle are exposed above sea level.

The island is home to the entire Royal Penguin population during breeding season, as well as numerous other species including king, gentoo and rockhopper penguins. Seal species include
fur seals and elephant seals and it is home to the Hooker’s sea lion.

Cruise Lusitania Bay to take in the awe-inspiring site of thousands of penguins, go ashore to visit the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition, and marvel at the diverse wildlife including Wandering albatross and Giant petrels; and countless other marine animals and seabirds.

Measuring just 34 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide, due to its remote locale the island is a breeding, birthing and resting site for seals while seabirds flock to the rock stacks and plateau to raise their young. For generations, this has been a haven for penguins with four species and more than two million birds to be found on the eastern and northern beaches and caves and tussock grasses.

On this journey, witness what UNSECO calls the island’s remote and windswept landscape of steep escarpments, lakes and dramatic changes in vegetation which provides an outstanding spectacle of wild natural beauty. It is often described as a “small speck thrust up into the vast Southern Ocean” with a coastal terrace characterised by waterlogged and heavily vegetated areas and framed by steep escarpments. Vegetation on Macquarie Island differs vastly within a small space from lush grassland to sparse feldmark.

Encounter this natural beauty which was formed 10 million years ago and, along with adjacent islets of Judge and Clerk and Bishop and Clerk and all surrounding waters out to three nautical miles, is managed as a nature reserve by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS).


This itinerary includes a total of 5 days at sea to reach these destinations. During sea days, relax or join our Expedition Team for a fascinating program of interactive workshops and informative presentations.


Farewell Coral Geographer and new-found friends at 5:30pm this afternoon. A complimentary post-cruise transfers to the airport or CBD will be available.

This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions, and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling.

Fares & Availability

Bridge Deck Suites

Private Balcony - 37.5m2

Fully Booked

Explorer Deck Balcony Stateroom

Private Balcony - 21.4m2

Fully Booked

Promenade Deck Stateroom

Picture Window - 17m2

Fully Booked

Coral Deck Stateroom

Porthole Window - 17m2

Fully Booked
Join the Waitlist

Prices are per person twin share, listed in Australian Dollars (AUD).  Booking Terms & Conditions >
For solo traveller rates see our Solo Traveller Program >

Additional Information


  • All excursions with our Expedition Team
  • Use of Xplorer and Zodiacs
  • Daily lectures and briefings with Guest Lecturers
  • All meals, chef-prepared on board
  • Captain’s welcome and farewell events, and open bridge access
  • Selected wines, selected beers and house spirits, juices, and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner
  • 24-hour barista-style coffee and tea station
  • All entrance fees to National Parks, ports, traditional owner fees and charges imposed by governing authorities
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Use of all onboard facilities, incl. a reference library
  • Your expedition photos captured during the voyage
  • Post-cruise transfers (in most destinations)
  • Wifi Access – Standard speed connectivity enabling email, social image sharing, web browsing and messaging

Not Included:

  • Pre-cruise transfers
  • Pre and post cruise flights/charter flights
  • Pre and post cruise accommodation
  • Travel Insurance
  • Entry visas & travel permits for the country you are travelling to/from
  • Alcoholic drinks (including beer and wine) outside of lunch and dinner service
  • Laundry service (available at a cost)
  • Items of a personal nature such souvenir purchases
  • Optional Extras (in some destinations)
More Information -NZ

Accommodation Nearby

Melbourne – Grand Hyatt

Melbourne – DoubleTree by Hilton 


Novotel Queenstown Lakeside


Queenstown – DoubleTree by Hilton

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