New Zealand: the Sub-Antarctic Islands: 9th November – 3rd December 2013

Published by Jon Hornbuckle (jonhornbuckle AT

Participants: Jon Hornbuckle and Keith Cowton


I visited New Zealand in Nov 1999 and saw almost all the landbirds except for Kiwis, only seeing the Brown (on Stewart Is). I had long wanted to do Heritage Expeditions’ annual Sub-Antarctic Islands cruise but had been deterred by its high cost. This year I decided to go for it after receiving a discount. I flew to New Zealand a few days early to try for two more Kiwis and do a pelagic off North Island before the cruise. I contacted Dani Lopez-Velasco who was doing a land trip with 4 Spanish friends before joining the cruise as BirdQuest’s leader. He kindly invited me to join him on their visit to Tiritiri Island and then came north with me to Kerikeri for the Whangaroa Pelagic, booked with Detlef Davies ( After this we drove to Aukland airport to return the hired vehicle – Dani flew to Invercargill the next day while I spent the morning photographing the large number of coastal birds at nearby Ambury Farm Regional Park, in walking distance of my accommodation, before flying south to join the cruise, sharing a cabin with Keith Cowton, an excellent birder and companion.

The initial trip was successful with both Kiwis seen and two new seabirds for me on the pelagic (Pycroft’s and Black Petrels). It was greatly helped by Dani’s excellent birding ability. The only “miss” was New Zealand Storm-Petrel, more easily seen further south in Hauraki Bay. The cruise on the Spirit of Enderby (a Russian ship) was a great success as I saw virtually all the birds I wanted, including the rare Magenta Petrel, along with spectacular numbers of Penguins and Albatrosses – highly recommended!


Nov 09 Arrive Auckland, night at Nomads hostel

Nov 10 Ferry to Tiritiri Island with Dani and 4 friends, night at Bunkhouse

Nov 11 Morning on Tiritiri, water taxi to Aukland, drive to Kerikeri, night in mobile-home

Nov 12 Whangaroa Pelagic, drive to Auckland airport, night at Kiwi Backpackers

Nov 13 Morning at Ambury Farm Regional Park, pm Jetstar flight to Dunedin, minibus to Invercargill, night at Backpackers

Nov 14 Birding around Invercargill, dinner with group and night at the Kelvin Hotel

Nov 15 Morning at Invercargill, transfer by bus to Bluff, board Spirit of Enderby, sailed past Stewart Island late afternoon

Nov 16 NE Island, Snares Islands

Nov 17 Enderby Island, Aukland islands

Nov 18 Carnley Harbour, Aukland islands

Nov 19 Sail towards Macquarie Island (Australia)

Nov 20 Sandy Bay, Macquarie Island

Nov 21 Buckles Bay, Macquarie Island

Nov 22 Sail towards Campbell Island

Nov 23 Campbell Island

Nov 24 Sail towards Antipodes Islands

Nov 25 Antipodes Islands

Nov 26 Bounty Island, sail towards Chatham Islands

Nov 27 Sailing

Nov 28 Chatham Islands

Nov 29 Pyramid Rock, Pitt Is., South East Island, Mangere Island

Nov 30 Sail towards Dunedin

Dec 01 Sail to Dunedin

Dec 02 Dock at Dunedin, leave ship, sightseeing in town, 14.20-20.00 Nakedbus to Christchurch, night at YHA

Dec 03 06.00 flight to Sydney, morning in Sydney Botanical Gardens, flights to Heathrow via Abu Dhabi.


Many thanks to Dani Lopez-Velasco, Detlef and Carol Davies, Brent Stephenson, Nick Allen, John Brodie-Good, Rob Morris and Keith Cowton for their help, along with all the participants, who with Rodney Russ and his team, made the cruise so enjoyable and successful.

LOG – JH personal itinerary at beginning and end, with edited version of Heritage Expeditions’ report of the expedition

Nov 09 Arrive Auckland, bus to town, night at Nomads hostel.

Nov 10 Ferry from Pier 4 to Tiritiri Island with Dani and 4 Spanish friends, birding, saw Spotted Kiwi after long search, night at Bunkhouse

Nov 11 Birding a.m., Water taxi to Aukland (no ferries today). After lunch in town, dropped Dani’s friends at Aukland airport then long drive north to Keri Keri in Dani’s mobile-home – met Keith Cowton, Tony Paliser and companion at Detlef and Carol Davies’s lovely house. Found Northern Brown Kiwi with Carol near Whangaroa. Night in mobile-home.

Nov 12 Whangaroa Pelagic, 08.00 to 13.00, with Detlef, Dani and Keith, a good experience in calm conditions, Pycroft’s and Parkinson’s Petrels being the highlights for me; drive to Auckland airport with Dani. Night at Kiwi Backpackers (KB) near airport.

Nov 13 Morning at Ambury Farm Regional Park in walking distance of KB – numerous shore and water birds; pm Jetstar flight to Dunedin, minibus to Invercargill, night at Backpackers.

Thursday 14 November: Invercargill

All day birding alone on foot including New River Estuary, Bushy Point Walk and Thomson’s Bush. Late afternoon we gathered at the Kelvin Hotel, Invercargill from around the globe, all in happy anticipation of our adventure on the Southern Ocean. At dinner we met Expedition Leader Rodney Russ and his son Nathan who is responsible for the operation of their Russian owned and crewed vessel the Professor Khromov, better known now as the Spirit of Enderby. Rodney outlined the programme for tomorrow and we retired to our rooms to prepare for boarding tomorrow.

Friday 15 November: Bluff and departure

Luggage was collected and transferred to the ship, so we were free to explore Invercargill or visit the interesting Southland Museum, with the excellent Southern Ocean exhibit. We reassembled at the hotel at 2pm for the transfer to Bluff where we boarded the ship and were shown to our cabins. After some time to unpack we gathered in the Lecture Room for a formal introduction to the Expedition Team and a ship briefing from Rodney and Cruise Director, Meghan. The ship departed at 4pm and we soon passed Stewart Island. Light rain had started to fall after the Life Boat drill so most of us adjourned to the bar for a social drink before dinner. Adam convened the first meeting for what was to become a regular after dinner feature for the voyage – the reading of the bird list.

Saturday 16 November: The Snares

The ship was rocking and rolling all night so sleep was difficult and there were many bleary eyes at the 6.45am breakfast. We had arrived off the Snares in the early hours and drifted off South Bay as Captain Dmitry and Rodney assessed whether we could take the planned Zodiac cruise. Winds were NW at about 20 knots but conditions were marginal due to a heavy swell. We went ahead with the Zodiac briefing and waited while conditions were assessed. At around 8.30 we were off in the 5 Zodiacs driven by Adam, Samuel, Meghan, Agnes and Rodney. We made our way between the main island and Broughton Island to Hoho Bay where we found ourselves in a very sheltered little inlet favoured by numerous Snares Crested Penguins. Fernbirds and Tomtits in the area were most obliging, a few New Zealand Fur Seals dozed on the rocks and further up the hill lay the occasional Sea Lion. Unfortunately our visit to this little oasis was cut short due to a predicted wind change to the SW, so we raced back to the ship and headed further South towards the Auckland Islands. The afternoon was spent listening to an introduction to the Auckland Islands from Rodney and bird watching from the bridge and all decks. A small pod of Long Finned Pilot Whales was seen by some around 5pm. Then it was time for dinner, followed by the regular reading of the bird list in the bar.

Sunday 17 November: Enderby Island

A grey dawn greeted us as we sat off Port Ross, on Enderby Island. The ship had arrived there around 2am and dropped anchor in the sheltered harbour of ‘Sara’s Bosom’ so we had enjoyed a much needed restful sleep in the calm waters. Two Zodiacs were launched after morning briefing, gear cleaning and lunch packing, to shuttle the group ashore. We ran the gauntlet of inquisitive male Hooker’s Sea Lions on landing and assembled on the beach for the boardwalk walk across the island. It was surprising to see a New Zealand Falcon perched in a tree in the landing area. Along the way the distinctive shapes of nesting Southern Royal Albatross could be seen and flying overhead were Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. A Yellow-eyed Penguin had obligingly decided to nest next to the boardwalk and a researcher had set up camera equipment there to monitor the bird’s movements. Once we reached the Western Cliffs the group split up to look for Subantarctic Snipe. All were successful in this challenge, and then we moved on to look at Light-mantled Sooty Albatross nesting on the cliffs. At this point Adam led the way for people wanting to walk to Derry Castle Reef, with Rodney at the end of the group. During our long walk around the island we saw several more Snipe, Yellow-eyed Penguins (one even up a small Rata tree), Auckland Island Flightless Teal (which were nesting, so fairly shy) and “tame” Banded Dotterel. In and around the Rata forests Tui, Bellbirds, Pipits and Red-crowned Parakeets were seen. Memorable scenes of the day for me included a pair of Yellow-eyed Penguins “bonding” together at the edge of the woodland and several Giant Petrels tearing into a New Zealand Fur Seal carcass on the rocks. The last Zodiac shuttle left the beach at 7pm and all reported to have had a wonderful day on this unique island.

Monday 18 November: Carnley Harbour, Auckland Islands

Rain and low cloud accompanied our entry into Carnley Harbour, so Rodney postponed the morning briefing until he had had time to assess the best options for the day. It was clear that the climb to see the Shy Albatross colony on South West Cape would certainly not be worth the effort in such claggy conditions, so that would not be on the agenda. He decided we would make a brief landing at Epigwatt where the Grafton was wrecked in 1864. All five men aboard survived this wreck and built a hut here where they lived for 18 months before sailing their modified dinghy to New Zealand. The remains of the ship and their hut can still be seen. A hardy few of us ventured out in the inclement weather to take a stroll around the area and to look successfully for Yellow-crowned Parakeets in the surrounding mossy and moist Rata forest.

Tuesday 19 November: At Sea

It was a choppy ride south towards Macquarie Island, with many preferring the comfort of their bunks to the windy decks. Chefs Bruce and Dean and wait staff Natalia and Katya did a magnificent job of preparing and serving meals under extremely difficult circumstances.

Wednesday 20 November: Sandy Bay, Macquarie Island

We came to anchor at 2am off Buckles Bay, the site of the ANARE base. Rodney went ashore and returned with the Station Leader, Mark Gasson, Chief Ranger Chris and Ranger Kris. They remained on board as we cruised south to Sandy Bay where everyone was ferried ashore by Zodiac for free time to observe the King and Royal Penguins and Elephant Seals. It was sunny and a balmy 5 degrees when we arrived, but the wind chill factor made it seem colder, particularly when sleet showers swept by with some regularity. We were met on shore by Dana, Billy and Ange, 3 of the hunters who patrol the island with their dogs looking for rabbits, rats and mice. They were glad of our company and happy to share their experiences of living in such a remote and challenging place. The wildlife was prolific and the sounds and smells very memorable, particularly in the Royal Penguin colony at the end of the boardwalk. Fat young male Elephant Seals lay in a pile burping, grunting, scratching and wrestling for space while cute weaners lay all around the beach waiting for mothers who would no longer return. Fluffballs of grey feathers disguised emerging King Penguins while adults, some still moulting, trudged to and fro for no apparent reason. A pair of Brown Skuas nested just near the boardwalk to the Royal Penguin colony, nice and handy for a takeaway meal whenever they felt hungry, penguin eggshells around the nest testament to their preferred snack. We saw one lone Chinstrap Penguin wandering the beach, which seemed to take a great interest in us, perhaps in the hope that we might keep him company until he could find others of his kind. Two Macquarie Shags sat preening on the point as we departed. As one of the last Zodiacs made its way back to the ship for lunch a small pod of around 6 Orca was spotted, with one large male clearly visible above the waves. They were no doubt cruising the coast on the lookout for unsuspecting weaners. Most of the group returned to Sandy Bay after lunch for another walk amongst the prolific wildlife, which apart from the odd peck or grunt, seemed unaware of these long lens toting humans. It had been a wonderful day on this magnificent stretch of Macquarie coastline.

Thursday 21 November: Buckles Bay, Macquarie Island

Snow had covered the island overnight, so we admired the glistening coastline as we made our way south to view the huge Royal Penguin colony on the southern tip of the island. Conditions were too cold and blustery for a Zodiac cruise so we saw what we could from the ship and returned north to anchor off Buckles Bay. There we went ashore under sunny skies and were split into 5 groups to tour the Australian Base (founded in 1947) and the surrounding area in the company of base staff. Just opposite the landing site and all along the approach road to the base, Gentoo Penguins were nesting with one or two chicks. It was wonderful to be able to see them so close. Very close to this site of new life stood a sombre reminder of the past in the form of rusting digesters which had been used by employees of Josef Hack to render penguins to oil when the Elephant Seal population had been decimated. The beach on the Western side of the small isthmus was a wild and windy place, littered with Elephant Seal weaners, kelp, rocks and the occasional pile of weathering bones. The colours of the sea here were nothing short of spectacular, ranging from deep aqua to a vivid blue. Elephant Seals lay everywhere, taking shelter in the work sheds around the base, although the station proper is afforded a little protection by a fence. This did not deter one huge male however who had managed to break down a section and make himself at home in a cosy spot between two of the buildings. Staff had thus far been unable to get him to budge, and could only wait until the monster decided to move on. Inside the station mess the ‘postmaster’ stamped mail and passports at a table next to the bar while we viewed the wall of photos showing staff from ages past. It was interesting to see one of our group as a young man (with long flowing locks) who had been the base doctor here in his younger days. All too soon it was time to transfer back to the ship, with Zodiacs pausing at a rocky outcrop on the ride back to see some Rockhopper Penguins. After a late lunch we said farewell to this wonderful island, departing on our journey at 3pm to Campbell Island, back in New Zealand waters.

Friday 22 November: At Sea

As we sailed today we enjoyed lectures from Samuel on Penguins, Adam on Prions of the Southern Ocean and Agnes on Albatross. Later Rodney gave an introduction to Campbell Island. Much of the day was spent on deck scanning the skies, recording a number of Blue Petrels.

Saturday 23 November: Campbell Island

We came to anchor in Perseverance Harbour at around 3.30am. At 8.45am Rodney departed with a group of 15 to enjoy a day-long walk which included skirting Col Peak to Windless Cove and returning to Camp Cove. Adam set off with a group to Garden Cove where they walked along the foot of Mt Honey on a hunt for the Campbell Island Snipe. The difficult walk was worth it as they returned with photographs of this elusive species. The remainder of the group went for a Zodiac cruise stopping off firstly at Tucker Cove where the only remaining relic of the original homestead, the redoubtable Shacklock stove, was examined. The next landing was at Camp Cove, where the ‘loneliest tree in the world’ (according to the Guinness Book of Records) sits guarded by Hooker’s Sea Lions. Along the coastline Campbell Island Flightless Teals were seen along with numerous New Zealand Pipits and a couple of White-fronted Terns. This group returned to the ship for lunch then back to the island to walk up the boardwalk on the Col Lyall Saddle between Col Peak and Mt Lyall. Two Hooker’s Sea Lions were encountered very high up on the walkway - after some persuasion the groups made it safely past these growling creatures. The Bulbinella rossii (commonly known as the Ross Lily) were in flower, dotting the landscape with yellow and very close to the walkway the Blue Hebe were in flower – the deep blue with a hint of mauve made a very pretty sight. There were Southern Royal Albatross dotted all over the hillside, and one even decided stroll right past the group and across the boardwalk. It then climbed to the top of a small ridge and after a few moments launched into the stiff breeze. One pair was observed mating and other birds were displaying and ‘sky calling’. More birds appeared as the afternoon wore on. Samuel and a few others had the privilege of being approached by a Campbell Flightless Teal while waiting for transfer back to the ship. It actually walked right up to him and nibbled at his fingers. A truly memorable moment with the world’s rarest duck! Rodney’s group also reported a very successful day, scrambling through the scrub and sliding down muddy patches. They found good numbers of albatross on the ridge and “moorland”. They also saw teal on the coast and a nesting Campbell Island Snipe right next to the track. By 7.30pm everybody was back on board for dinner at 8pm.

Sunday 24 November: At Sea

When not out on deck we enjoyed some documentaries and lectures while making our way from Campbell Island to the Antipodes. Firstly there was a double feature on Pest Eradication on Campbell and then Macquarie Islands. Adam followed with an introduction to the cetaceans of the Southern Ocean. After lunch we saw a documentary detailing how the Campbell Island Flightless Teal was rescued and re-introduced to the island. Samuel ended the day’s presentations with a talk about Sir James Clark Ross, asking “was he the greatest Subantarctic explorer ever?”

Monday 25 November: Antipodes Islands

When we awoke we still had some way to go until our arrival off the Antipodes. Rodney gave an introduction to the Antipodes and Bounties at 10am and most spent the rest of the time on deck in light winds and calm seas. We came to anchor in Anchorage Bay in the Antipodes after our arrival at around midday. After lunch it was time to venture out under sunny skies in the Zodiacs for a closer look at these rocky outposts where we were able to see Erect-crested and Rockhopper Penguins and Antipodes and Reischek’s Parakeets. During the journey south from Anchorage Bay to Leeward Island and back we also saw numerous New Zealand Fur Seals, a few Elephant Seal weaners and a lone Subantarctic Fur Seal surveying us from the rocks. We spent a wonderful two hours exploring caves and inlets along the rocky coastline of these seldom visited islands. The ship stayed at anchor until after dinner at 7.30pm when we set out to cover the 70 miles to the Bounty Islands.

Tuesday 26 November: Bounty Islands

We reached the Bounty Islands at around 6.30am. The swell was too large to Zodiac cruise these giant volcanic rocks which had been thrust up from the seabed in relatively recent geological times. The ship made three passes of the islands which we could see were teeming with birdlife. Many hundreds of Salvin’s Albatross flew over the decks or were grouped on the surface, and as Rodney had promised, the Bounty Islands Shags also flew out to investigate the ship. As we departed, Adam did some chumming which attracted a large amount of interest, particularly from the Salvins. The rest of the day was spent on the decks in the bright sunshine. We continued to enjoy excellent sailing conditions and Rodney was very pleased with our progress towards the Chatham Islands.

Wednesday 27 November: Pyramid Rock, Chatham Islands

After a 7.30am breakfast, Rodney called us all to a briefing to discuss our activities in the Chathams. He announced that the privately funded Taiko Trust had offered to take people for a close-up viewing of the Taiko (or Magenta Petrel) at their Sweetwater property in exchange for a US$1,000 donation. Four people signed up for this special experience to see one of the world’s rarest seabirds with an estimated population of less than 150.

Adam did more chumming from the back deck and attracted hundreds of albatross including Salvin’s, Chatham, Buller’s, Southern Royal and Black-browed. Rodney gave a general introduction to the Chatham Islands as we cruised the calm seas. We reached Pyramid Rock at around 1pm and the ship completed a circumnavigation of this distinctive Chatham Islands landmark showing patches of bright pink ‘Ice Plant’ flowers dotted around its steep sides. We were fortunate to be able to see it in all its glory in bright sunshine with the deep blue sky as a backdrop. New Zealand Fur Seals relaxed on the rocks at its base, possibly taking a break from checking out the numerous cray-pots which were placed at regular intervals. Meanwhile various bird species including Chatham Albatross and terns surveyed us from high above. Rodney had checked the Chatham’s weather forecast and decided that since a strong Easterly front was coming we should take the opportunity today to Zodiac cruise along the lee of South East Island before wind and swell made it impossible. We set off after a late lunch, and although conditions were not ideal, as Rodney said it was “now or never”. We managed to see numerous Pitt Island Shags sitting along rocky ledges and Shore Plovers darting amongst the rocks. Little Blue Penguins, Tuis, Tomtits, Buller’s Albatross and Pipits were also in evidence. Some caught fleeting glimpses of parrots, but the Black Robin was a little too difficult to locate from the shore. Zodiacs back aboard, we headed for Waitangi.

Thursday 28 November: Waitangi, Chatham Islands

We slipped quietly into our anchorage off Waitangi at around 1.30am. After 6am breakfast we attended a short briefing from Rodney, packed our lunches and were ferried ashore for a day on the main island. The group was delighted by the timely appearance of a Chathams Oystercatcher which obligingly waited near the pier where we landed. School buses then transferred us to the Tuku Reserve, Bruce and Liz Tuanui’s property, where we walked a trail through native bush to the sea and most got to see the Chatham Island Pigeon and Chatham Grey Warbler. Fantails and Weka were also seen, but as steady rain began to fall many cut their walk short and picnicked in the buses. Four of the group took the opportunity to be taken inside the predator-proof fence at Springwater to see the Taiko or Magenta Petrel. They declared it a magnificent experience well worth the large donation to the protection programme.

We returned to the township and enjoyed some free-time in the large and popular pub, thanks to the now heavy and persistent rain. The ship’s chefs Bruce and Dean were already in residence in the bar playing darts. Rodney announced that he had heard from the Captain that conditions in the bay were not good for retrieving everyone from Zodiacs so he had decided to move the ship to another anchorage further around the island. The trusty school buses having returned from their primary task of returning children home from school would transfer us by road to the new location. Unfortunately when the ship arrived at this new point it was discovered that conditions there were even worse, so the ship returned to the original anchorage. However the only safe way to board the Zodiacs was off the beach, meaning we would all get very wet. We boarded the buses again and headed for the beach, by this time was a very wet and windswept place to be. Fortunately the bus drivers allowed us to wait on board until Cally called us in groups of 8 to go down and meet Meghan on the shore where we donned our lifejackets. One of the Russian crew, Doctor Roger, Agnes and Meghan man-handled the craft on shore as Rodney and Samuel drove to and from the ship. It was a wild and wet ride and everyone got soaked but hot showers and drinks cheered us on our return.

Once everyone was back aboard, Rodney announced that there was no point in us staying in the Chathams as the weather was only going to deteriorate further, so we would set a course for Dunedin that night after dinner, cutting our time short by half a day. We had had excellent weather up until then but the ‘purple patch’ had now come to an end. Some keen birders stayed on the bridge or out on deck in the 40 knot winds as dinner was served at 7.30pm and were rewarded with sightings of the rare Taiko or Magenta Petrel and the Chatham Islands Petrel. It was a fitting end to an eventful day as we bade farewell to our last island at 10.30pm.

Friday 29 November: At Sea

The ship was rocking and rolling quite a lot all day so lectures were suspended. Bird species highlights included a Great Shearwater, Fluttering Shearwaters, Gould’s, Black-winged and Westland Petrels.

Saturday 30 November: At Sea

Another day of heavy swells meant many hunkered down in their cabins. Those who ventured onto the bridge or upper decks saw a large Sperm Whale early in the morning. Bird species of note included Hutton’s, Fluttering and Flesh-footed Shearwaters. In the late afternoon Rodney gave a presentation on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and the work Heritage is doing to support its conservation in the Russian Far East.

Sunday 1 December: At Sea

It was our final day at sea on the long trek back to New Zealand’s South Island. During the morning Samuel gave a presentation on his winter at the French base in Antarctica. Some spent a last day enjoying the sunshine on deck while others began packing. Megan and Agnes finalised the ship accounts and at 5pm we all gathered in the Lecture Room for the last time for a briefing about our disembarkation and a recap of the expedition highlights. Rodney thanked everyone for entering into the spirit of the expedition and each team member said a few words. Adam then gave a short summary of the wildlife highlights and commented that we had counted a staggering 48 tubenoses which was a new record for this itinerary. He gave credit to the many sharp-eyed birders in the group who put in long hours on the bridge and decks. The gathering ended with the showing of an excellent slide show Meghan had put together from photos she, Agnes and Samuel had taken during the voyage. This presentation was available afterwards for everyone to copy to take home. Dinner was a buffet extravaganza as Bruce and Dean pulled out all the stops to make it a memorable last meal together. ‘Second stomachs’ were required to do the dessert selection justice. Reluctantly we tore ourselves away from the dining rooms to continue packing or take a final few photographs of the beautiful sunset.

Monday 2 December: Dunedin

The pilot boarded at 5am and guided us into the inner harbour to the port of Dunedin where we came alongside at 7am. After Customs clearance we posed for an official group photo on the wharf and then boarded buses for transfer to the city or airport. We had spent a wonderful few weeks together, made and cemented many friendships and seen islands and wildlife many can only dream about. We may not meet again, but the memories and photos will linger on.

I spent the morning exploring Dunedin, including an excellent museum, before taking a pre-booked Nakedbus along the east coast to Christchurch. Here I checked in to the busy YHA hostel before walking to the nearby town centre. I was surprised to see there were so many ruined buildings still evident, resulting from the tragic earthquake three years ago – half of the cathedral had almost disappeared – but a lot of new buildings had been erected.

Tuesday 3 December: journey home

I had to take a taxi to the airport at 03.30 the next morning to check in for the 06.00 flight to Sydney, the first leg of my journey. I took advantage of the long wait for the next flight (to Abu Dhabi) to spend most of the morning in Sydney Botanical Gardens, near the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, on a beautiful warm and sunny day. I failed to find the Powerful Owl reputed to be there but a photogenic pair of Tawny Frogmouth perched in a dead tree was adequate compensation. The flights back to Heathrow with Virgin Australia were uneventful.

Species Lists

Systematic list of my sightings (excluding introductions from Europe). The taxonomy of many of the seabirds seems to be in a continual state of flux; I have tried to include the latest opinions.

Northern Island Brown Kiwi Apteryx mantelli: 1 seen at night near Kerikeri and a few heard there.

Little Spotted Kiwi Apteryx owenii: 1 seen at night on Tiritiri Is and 2 heard.

King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus halli: 1000s in colonies on Macquarie Island, one of the highlights of the trip.

Yellow-eyed Penguin Megadyptes antipodes: 12, mainly in pairs, on Enderby Island in the Auckland

Gentoo Penguin Pygoscelis papua: c.100 in the colony on Macquarie Island.

Chinstrap Penguin Pygoscelis Antarctica: 1 on Macquarie Island, getting some stick from the Kings, was very unusual as it should be in Antarctica at this time of year.

Little Penguin Eudyptula minor: 1 in a nest box on Tiritiri, 10+ at Whangaroa harbour mouth, 5 near Bluff and 3 on South East Island in the Chathams.

(Eastern) Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes chrysocome filholi: 20+ at Buckles Bay, Macquarie Is and 1 with Erect-crested Penguins on the rocks in the Antipodes Islands.

Royal Penguin Eudyptes schlegeli: 1000+ at Sandy Bay on Macquarie.

Snares Crested Penguin Eudyptes robustus: 200 on the Snares.

Erect-crested Penguin Eudyptes sclateri: 1000s on the Antipodes and Bounty Islands.

Great Crested Grebe, Podiceps cristatus: a few on a lake near Sinclair Wetlands south of Dunedin

Wandering Albatross (Snowy Albatross) Diomedea exulans: only 1 noted by me, on the way to Campbell Is.

Gibson’s Albatross Diomedea [exulans] gibsoni: 1 imm. on the Whangaro pelagic, small numbers noted on 8 days.

Antipodean Albatross Diomedea [exulans] antipodensis: a few seen on 5 days from the Antipodes Is. onwards.

Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora: by far the commonest large albatross, especially from Campbell Is. to the Chathams, with nesting/ displaying birds closely observed on Campbell Is.

Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea [epomophora] sanfordi: still classed by Clements as a sub-species, supported by at least one authority. Apart from 2 noted near the Snares, I did not identify any till the approach to the Chathams where they were quite common, after which a few were seen every day.

Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophrys: very few noted except at Macquarie Is where it was quite common.

Campbell Albatross Thalassarche [melanophrys] impavida: classed by Clements as a subspecies of Black-browed. Seen most days in small numbers but more numerous near the Campbell and Antipodes Islands.

White-capped (Shy) Albatross Thalassarche cauta: 2 or 3 on the Whangaroa pelagic, several seen most days, and very numerous around the Aukland Islands, and the main species seen when approaching Dunedin.

Salvin’s Albatross Thalassarche salvini: Only a few near Stewart Is and the Snares until we reached the Antipodes where 10 were noted daily and then it became numerous at the Chathams where 70,000 pairs breed.

Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita: only seen at the Chathams where the whole population breeds on Pyramid Rock, large numbers being seen close up whilst chumming near there.

Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma: although a few were seen most days by others, I did not see any until approaching the Chathams where up to 6 were seen daily.

(Southern) Buller’s Albatross Thalassarche bulleri: 4 near the Snares.

Northern Buller’s (Pacific) Albatross Thalassarche [bulleri] platei.: not recognized by Clements as even a subspecies. Common at the Chathams.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross Phoebetria palpebrata: 10 – 20 daily from Enderby Is to the Antipodes, with 4 on cliff nests on Enderby.

Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus: fairly common at Macquarie including a few white birds with a few elsewhere.

Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes halli: common throughout, with young birds in the nest on Enderby.

Cape Petrel Daption capensis: one of the most common seabirds, seen daily. Small numbers of “Snares Cape Petrel” D. c. australe were seen around the Snares and Chatham Island.

Grey-faced (Great-winged) Petrel Pterodroma macroptera gouldi: a few while sailing towards the Chathams and Dunedin.

Cook’s Petrel Pterodroma cookii: up to 20 on the Whangaroa Pelagic and a few on the first and last two days of the cruise.

Pycroft’s Petrel Pterodroma pycrofti: up to 10 on the Whangaroa Pelagic, not recorded on the cruise.

Black-winged Petrel Pterodroma nigripennis: 1 near the Chathams.

Mottled Petrel Pterodroma inexpectata: fairly common in small numbers most days of the cruise with up to 100 near Stewart Is and the Snares.

White-headed Petrel Pterodroma lessonii: a few on most days.

Magenta Petrel (Chatham Island Taiko) Pterodroma magentae: 1 of this very rare bird near the Chatham Is. at c.7pm on 27th. Only 12 occupied breeding burrows were known last year (per Rob Morris) and only 9 have been found this year.

[Chatham Petrel Pterodroma axillaris: 1 of this Critically Endangered species was seen by a few at dusk less than an hour after the Magenta!]

Soft-plumaged Petrel Pterodroma mollis: a few on 7 days from Macquarie onwards, with an exceptional c.100
Near the Bounty Islands.

Grey Petrel Pterodroma cinerea: 3 near the Antipodes Is.

[Gould’s Petrel Pterodroma leucoptera: a bird originally identified at a Stejneger’s Petrel, which I had seen off Chile, was seen by a few at the rear of the ship and re-identified as a Gould’s, which would have been new for me.]

Fairy Prion Pachyptila turtur: Identification of prions was difficult but the keen photographers took many photos so that the frequency of the 4 species seen could be estimated. This species was probably the commonest prion except in the southernmost areas around Macquarie Island.

Fulmar Prion Pachyptila crassirostris: seen near the Snares, the Antipodes and especially the Bounty Is where over 100 were seen on Nov 26. Its habit of nesting on rocky cliffs, unlike the other species, is probably the most reliable identification criterion.

Antarctic Prion Pachyptila desolata: the common prion in the south with over 100 on some days.

Broad-billed Prion Pachyptila vittata: the easiest to identify, from its characteristic bill – only noted near Stewart Is, the Snares and especially between Bounty Is and the Chathams.

White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis: Fairly common and widespread.

Westland Petrel Procellaria westlandica: one in the Chathams and on the first day heading from there to Dunedin – another rarity for this route.

Black (Parkinson’s) Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni: only 1 noted on the Whangaroa Pelagic.

Blue Petrel Halobaena caerulea: fairly common near Macquarie only.

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus: 1 on the Whangaroa Pelagic, seen daily on the cruise, sometimes in large numbers, eg 1000+ near the Snares and Aukland Islands.

Short-tailed Shearwater Puffinus tenuirostris: 20 with the mass of Fluttering Shearwaters on the Whangaroa Pelagic and a few on most days of the cruise.

Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis: 1 flew closely past the ship while in the Chathams. There have been a few reports of this species in New Zealand water, with one from Kaikoura awaiting acceptance, but this may be the first confirmed record for New Zealand!

Buller’s Shearwater Puffinus bulleri: 50+ on the Whangaroa Pelagic, 1 near Stewart Is and several near the Chathams.

Flesh-footed Shearwater Puffinus carneipes: 30+ on the Whangaroa Pelagic and a few near Dunedin.

Fluttering Shearwater Puffinus gavial: 1000+ on the Whangaroa Pelagic, 2 single rarities on the last days of the cruise.

Hutton's Shearwater Puffinus huttoni: several with the Fluttering Shearwaters on the Whangaroa Pelagic and on the last 2 days of the cruise.

Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis: 6+ on the Whangaroa Pelagic.

Subantarctic Little Shearwater Puffinus [assimilis] elegans: a few throughout the cruise, the most being 10+ when approaching the Chathams.

Wilson’s Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus: the scarcest of the four storm-petrels with 6 for me on 22nd and 2 on 24th, to and from Campbell Is.

Grey-backed Storm-petrel Oceanites nereis: small numbers most days with around 10 on 18th, 22nd and 24th..

White-faced Storm-petrel Pelagodroma marina: 30 on the Whangaroa pelagic, and around 10 daily near the Chathams.

Black-bellied Storm-petrel Fregetta tropica: a few most days, the most being near the Antipodes.

Common Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides urinatrix: 100+ on the Whangaroa Pelagic and near Stewart Is and the Snares, fairly common elsewhere on the cruise. Some paler birds may have been South Georgia Diving-Petrels or even an undescribed taxon.

Australian Gannet Morus serrator: fairly common off Tiri, a few in Whangaroa harbour and near Dunedin.

Great Cormorant (Black Shag) Phalacrocorax carbo: a few at Ambury Farm Regional Park.

Little Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax melanoleucos: A few at Tiri, Dunedin, Invercargill and 1 in Bluff harbour.

Pied Cormorant Phalacrocorax varius: a few at Whangaroa harbour.

Macquarie Shag Phalacrocorax purpurascens: 10 at Sandy Bay and 20 at Buckles Bay, Macquarie Island.

Stewart Island Shag Leucocarbo chalconotus: a few in Bluff harbour and at Dunedin.

Chatham Island Shag Leucocarbo onslowi: I only saw 1 in flight as we cruised north from South East Island, others saw a few more.

Bounty Island Shag Leucocarbo ranfurlyi: commonly flying to or past the ship whilst in the Bounty Islands.

Auckland Island Shag Leucocarbo colensoi: 100 around Enderby Island and a few in Carnley Harbour in the Auckland Islands.

Campbell Island Shag Leucocarbo campbelli: 2+ in Perseverance Harbour, Campbell Island.

Spotted Shag Stictocarbo punctatus: a few in Bluff harbour before we departed.

Pitt Island Shag Stictocarbo featherstoni: several on South East Island and 2 on Pyramid Rock.

Great Egret Ardea alba: 1 at Invercargill.

White-faced Heron Ardea novaehollandiae: common at Ambury Farm Regional Park and Invercargill, a few while travelling and 1 at Waitangi harbour on the main Chatham Island.

Royal Spoonbill Platalea regia: 2 at Invercargill and 7 at at Ambury Farm Regional Park.

Black Swan Cygnus atratus: common on most open waters.

Cape Barren Goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae [Introduced]: 3 on Stephenson Island during the Whangaroa Pelagic.

Paradise Shelduck Tadorna variegate: common at Ambury Farm Regional Park.

Grey Teal Anas gracilis: a few on Tiri and at Ambury Farm Regional Park, fairly common at Invercargill.

Brown Teal Anas chlorotis: a pair with 4 juv on Tiri.

Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa: several at Ambury Farm Regional Park and Invercargill.

Australian Shoveler Anas rhynchotis: 3 at Ambury Farm Regional Park and common at Invercargill.

New Zealand Scaup Aythya novaeseelandiae: 4 at Invercargill.

Auckland Island Teal Anas aucklandica: 10 on Enderby Island.

Campbell Island Teal Anas nesiotis: 3 wild birds of what’s said to be an undescrbed species on Campbell Island.

Australasian (Swamp) Harrier Circus approximans: several while traveling on the mainland, 1 disturbing roosting waders at Ambury Farm Regional Park, 4 in the Invercargill area including 1 displaying, and 2 on the main Chatham Island.

New Zealand Falcon Falco novaeseelandiae: 1 perched in a tree on Enderby Is and 1 in flight later.

Brown Quail Coturnix ypsilophora [Introduced]: fairly common on Tiri.

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio: common on Tiri and a few seen while travelling on South Island.

Takahe Porphyrio mantelli: a pair on Tiri

Weka Gallirallus australis: I only saw 1 on the main Chatham Island [Introduced] but up to 5 others were seen.

South Island Oystercatcher Haematopus finschi: numerous at Ambury Farm Regional Park, several in the Invercargill, Bluff and Dunedin areas.

Variable Oystercatcher Haematopus unicolor: at least 2 at Ambury Farm Regional Park, possibly overlooked at Bluff and Dunedin.

Chatham Islands Oystercatcher Haematopus chathamensis: 1 at Waitangi harbour on the main Chatham Island – a very rare bird.

Double-banded Plover (Banded Dotterel) Charadrius bicinctus exilis: common on Enderby Island in the Aucklands.

New Zealand (Red-breasted) Dotterel Charadrius obscurus: fairly common at Ambury Farm Regional Park.

Shore Plover Thinornis novaeseelandiae: 10 at South East Island in the Chathams.

Masked Lapwing (Spur-winged Plover) Vanellus miles: a few around Invercargill and several while travelling.

White-headed Stilt Himantopus leucocephalus: locally common on the mainland coast, especially at Ambury Farm Regional Park.

Subantarctic (Aukland Island) Snipe Coenocorypha aucklandica: a few on Enderby Island - prefer to
scuttle through the grass rather than fly.

Campbell Island Snipe Coenocorypha [auklandica] perseverance: I saw 3 of this undescribed taxon, appearing somewhat different from C. auklandica but a total of 10 was recorded.

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica: 1000s at Ambury Farm Regional Park and 50+ at Invercargill.

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus: 1 at Ambury Farm Regional Park.

Red Knot Calidris canutus: common at Ambury Farm Regional Park.

Kelp Gull Larus Dominicans: common near coastal land.

Red-billed Gull Larus scopulinus: common near land.

Black-billed Gull Larus bulleri: several on Enderby Island.

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia: a few at Ambury Farm Regional Park, 1 at Invercargill.

White-fronted Tern Sterna striata: fairly common on the coast and islands.

Antarctic Tern Sterna vittata: fairly common on the islands.

Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea: a few singles on the cruise.

Brown (Subantarctic) Skua Catharacta [antarctica] lonnbergi: seen throughout the trip, with birds breeding on at least some of the island groups visited.

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus: 1 on the Whangaroa pelagic

New Zealand Pigeon Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae: several on Tiri and in the Invercargill area.

Chatham Island Pigeon Hemiphaga chathamensis: 6+ in the native woodland at Tuku Reseve on the main Chatham Island.

Antipodes Parakeet Cyanoramphus unicolor: 1 saw only 1 of these rare parakeets on the Antipodes, with others seeing 3 more.

Reischek’s (Red-crowned) Parakeet Cyanoramphus hochstetteri: 6 on the Antipodes.

Red-fronted/crowned Parakeet Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae: common on Tiri and three different subspecies seen on the cruise.

Yellow-fronted/crowned Parakeet Cyanoramphus auriceps: I had a good view of a perched bird on Enderby Is. in Carnley Harbour, Auckland Islands, with 4 others noted.

Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximius [Introduced]: 2 on Tiri.

Shining Bronze-cuckoo Chrysococcyx lucidus: 1 singing in Detlef’s garden and in the woodland on Chatham Is.

Southern Boobook (Morepork) Ninox novaeseelandiae: 2 on fence posts near Kerikeri.

Sacred Kingfisher Halcyon sancta: a few on the mainland.

Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena: 2 at Bluff Harbour, 3 at Waitangi on the main Chatham Island and a few on the mainland.

Pipits: mainland birds are considered to be either Australian Anthus australis or New Zealand A. novaeseelandia, with the island birds either species or subspecies as follows.

Chatham (New Zealand) Pipit Anthus [novaeseelandiae] chathamensis: a few on the Chatham Is.

Subantarctic (New Zealand) Pipit Anthus [novaeseelandiae] aucklandicus: common on Enderby and Campbell Is, 10+ steindachneri on the Antipodes.

Fernbird Bowdleria punctata: 4+ caudata on the Snares and singles near Invercargill.

Grey Warbler (Gerygone) Gerygone igata: a few on Tiri and the mainland.

Chatham Islands Warbler (Gerygone) Gerygone albofrontata: 2 in the Awaroara Valley woodland on the main Chatham Is.

Grey (New Zealand) Fantail Rhipidura fuliginosa: 6+ penita on Chatham Is. and a few on Tiri and the mainland.

Tomtit Petroica macrocephala: a few nominate near Invercargill, 5+ of the all black dannefaerdi on the Snares, and 6 marrineri on the Auckland Islands.

Silvereye Zosterops lateralis: fairly common on the mainland and in the Chathams woodland.

Rifleman Acanthisitta chloris: 1 on Tiri.

Stitchbird Notiomystis cincta: several on Tiri.

New Zealand Bellbird Anthornis melanura: fairly common on Tiri and a few on the Aucklands.

Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae: very common on Tiri, several in the Invercargill area and a few on the islands.

Kokako Callaeas cinerea: 4 on Tiri.

Saddleback Creadion carunculatus: common on Tiri

New Zealand Robin Petroica australis: fairly common on Tiri.

Whitehead Mohoua albicilla: common on Tiri.

Australasian Magpie Gymnorhina tibicen [Introduced]: several.

Good birds missed by JH

Gould’s Petrel Pterodroma leucoptera: 1 near the Chathams – rarely seen on previous cruises.

Chatham Petrel Pterodroma axillaris: 1 approaching the Chathams – this scarce bird is very rarely seen on cruises, one possible reason being that it may not start breeding on the Chathams till Dec so may not be in this area till then.

New Zealand Storm-petrel Pealeornis maoriana: seen by Keith Cowton on Wrybill’s Hauraki Bay pelagic on Nov13.

Chatham Island Parakeet Cyanoramphus forbesi : this occurs on Mangere Is but we were unable to zodiac round here because of rough seas – it is rarely seen on these cruises.