The Snares islands are home to millions of seabirds. If you can visit, you can expect that you will be surrounded by large numbers of Cape Petrels, such as these. They are totally unafraid of people and swim close by the zodiacs.Cape Petrels are about the size of a pigeon. They are found throughout the antarctic and sub-antarctic - they also are...more
Just what exactly should be the plural of albatross? Is it still just (eg) two albatross, or albatri, possibly albatrice, or maybe even albatrocities?Either way, at The Snares you will see many albatrosses (that seems easiest), some nesting and some circling overhead. This pair are Bullers Albatrosses, one of the four species of albatross to breed...more
The Snares are made of tough granite, which has been sculpted into steep sided islands with interesting outcrops. Cruising around them in a zodiac was a highlight.Unfortunately there is little shelter at The Snares, so apparently there are many occasions when cruise ships are unable to use zodiacs: if you are planning a visit, keep your fingers...more
It seems that the Snares Crested Penguin colony at the sloping rock is famous in New Zealand. The colony is among the shrubbery at the top of the rock, maybe 30 metres above sea level. As can be seen, the rock is very steep and, with the sea lapping at the bottom, it must be slippery - but these little chaps use it as the main road to their colony....more
The Snares Crested Penguin is another of the penguin species which is endemic to a particular subantarctic island. These are related to other crested penguins, such as the rockhopper, but it must be said that their "Dagwood hair styles" are much better groomed than most.They nest among the shrubbery on the islands, well above water level. As...more
After about 150 years since it was abandoned, there isn't much left to show of the former Enderby settlement on Port Ross: rata forests have taken over the area entirely (as have some belligerent Hooker Sea Lions, which limited searching!).We managed to find this old brick among the ferns and rata trees.more
The most southern forest in this part of the world is found on Auckland Island. It consists of dense stands of trees known as Rata. There are no trees on the more southern Macquarie and Campbell Islands. The trees have crimson flowers, which drop to form a thick carpet underneath. The old Enderby settlement area is a good place to see the forest,...more
Sandy Bay is on the Port Ross side of Enderby Island. It is a favoured place for Hooker Sea Lion harems and their beachmasters. At the right time of year (late December to January is ideal) you also will see the seal pups. Waiting on the outskirts for their chance to take over the harems are many unattached bull sea lions. It is interesting to see...more
At Auckland Island, there are no roads, no vehicles and no airports. Your transport to get there is your ship: when you arrive, zodiacs are the usual choice of transport. There is no regular transport service to this or the other subantarctic islands, so to visit you will need to be part of a tour, usually from New Zealand or Australia to the Antarctic.
You should particularly note that the usual weather in this part of the world may be kindly described as "foul". There are frequent strong winds, fog and rain, accompanied by rough seas - and that all often happens simultaneously! So there always is the prospect that, although you may arrive with your ship, weather conditions may preclude the use of zodiacs.
As the photo shows, we were lucky!
Hooker Sea Lions are found throughout the Auckland Islands. They not only live on beaches, they also wander inland among the rata forests.
They are large animals and males can weigh over half a tonne. They also are equipped with very good teeth, are fast moving and territorial. That isn't a good combination if you find yourself face to face with a wandering bull seal, because they can be aggressive!
The answer is to watch your step, keep a lookout, stay in a group, and most of all - don't argue with these blokes! Keep your distance.