About Heritage Expeditions

  • overview
  • affiliations/links
  • responsible travel policy
  • our ship
  • office staff
  • expedition staff

Heritage Expeditions was formed in 1985, as a way of increasing awareness and conservation of the natural world through responsible expedition travel. Its founder Rodney Russ was a biologist working for the New Zealand Wildlife Service. Through his work on Kakapo, Black Robin and other endangered species he appreciated that rather than locking wilderness areas away, it was important to share them with people so that they might become "ambassadors" advocating and supporting conservation efforts.  He has long held the view that conservation and responsible travel are partners, that together can achieve what might otherwise be unachievable.

From those small beginnings the company, which is still family owned, operates its own Polar Research Vessel, Spirit of Enderby, on expeditions to Antarctica, the Subantarctic, through the Pacific and the Russian Far East. Each expedition is meticulously planned and led  ensuring that passengers (maximum of 50) maximize every opportunity they have to learn and experience as much as possible about the region, while at the same time minimising the impact of their visit.

Today Heritage Expeditions works from modern purpose built offices in Christchurch, New Zealand. When booking with us you will benefit from the enormous wealth of experience, knowledge and passion of the staff for the destinations we visit.

To Contact our office please click here.



Sustainable Travel International Logo



Australian Geographic Society logo



New Zealand Geographic Logo



IAATO link




Enderby Trust


Birdlife International logo




Antarctic Heritage Trust



ATTA Member



Travelling with Heritage Expeditions is to travel responsibly. As biologists and ornithologists, we are intimately aware of the many issues that confront animals and their habitats, the world's oceans and isolated ethnic groups. We also take action: we actively contribute to the conservation of the places we visit in several ways; we 'buy local' and employ locally; we make sure that travellers are respectful of local customs and traditions; and we dispose of waste responsibly.


Heritage Expeditions supports conservation by providing advocacy through responsible travel and providing funds and logistical support for research and management. For our Russia 2013 season we have continued our association with BirdLife International as a Species Champion for the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. In addition to our providing transport and logistics for several researchers, we are committed to making financial contributions as a company and welcome our guests to join us in support of this programme. All funds donated will be spent on BirdLife International's activities preventing extinction. 70% goes to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation project directly and 30% is retained and pooled with other contributions to fund three other vital aspects of BirdLife International's work:

1. To fund vital development of conservation (capacity) for Critically Endangered species who do not yet receive support.
2. A contribution to the BirdLife Partnership's International Science, Policy, Advocacy, Conservation and Coordination work that underpins the programme.
3. Vital communications and publicity that raises international awareness of the extinctions crisis and promotes the programme to help recruit new BirdLife Species Champions.

We also make significant annual contributions to the New Zealand Department of Conservation, the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service, Antarctic Heritage Trust and the Russian State Reserve Agency. In addition to these contributions, Heritage Expeditions provides transport of freight and personnel to and from nature reserves. We support the New Zealand Meteorological Service and non-governmental research agencies, including the World Wildlife Fund (Russia) and the University of Canterbury. For the 2013-2014 season we have chosen our January Antarctic voyage to promote as well as collect and submit donations for The Last Ocean Charitable Trust. The organisation was established in August 2009 to raise awareness of the unique values of the Ross Sea. The Trust's objectives are:

1. To raise public awareness of the Ross Sea being the last large, intact ocean ecosyst-em on Earth.
2. To educate the public on the value of the Ross Sea ecosystem to humanity and science.
3. To educate the public on the unique dynamics of a relatively untouched marine ecosystem and how human impact could change these dynamics.
4. To promote the Ross Sea as a unique ecosystem requiring protection from human influence.

For more information about the Trust and the issues facing the Ross Sea, please visit www.lastocean.co.nz

We travel in small groups and endeavour to maintain a guide-to-client ratio of 1:12. Each expedition is led by an experienced Expedition Leader who is familiar with the region being visited. When selecting our specialist expedition equipment, vehicles and vessels, we research carefully to ensure that they are the most suitable and the most environmentally responsible. All waste generated on our expeditions is disposed of in a responsible manner: onboard it is treated as prescribed by MARPOL and on land expeditions recycling is encouraged. Non-recyclable waste is brought back for disposal at approved sites.

Heritage Expeditions owns and is covenanted to protect an area of native forest in New Zealand. We employ a part-time Conservation Officer for the purposes of predator control and native species replanting. We partner with the Enderby Trust to provide scholarships for young people, who could not otherwise afford to travel, to join our expeditions. Heritage Expeditions holds active membership in a number of conservation and travel organisations, including the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) which promotes responsible travel to Antarctica.







Our ship - The Spirit of Enderby:

The Spirit of Enderby (Professor Khromov) is a fully ice-strengthened expedition vessel, built in 1984 for polar and oceanographic research and is perfect for Expedition Travel.

She carries just 50 passengers and was refurbished in March 2013 to provide comfortable accommodation in twin share cabins approximately half of which have private facilities. All cabins have outside windows or portholes and ample storage space.
On board there is a combined bar/library lounge area and a dedicated lecture room. The cuisine is excellent and is prepared by top NZ and Australian chefs.

The real focus and emphasis of every expedition is getting you ashore as often as possible for as long as possible with maximum safety and comfort. Our Expeditions are accompanied by some of the most experienced naturalists and guides, who have devoted a lifetime to field research in the areas that we visit. The ship is crewed by a very enthusiastic and most experienced Russian Captain and crew.
The name Spirit of Enderby honours the work and the vision of the Enderby Brothers of London. The Enderby Captains were at the forefront of Antarctic exploration for almost 40 years in the early 1800s. It also celebrates Enderby Island, arguably the greatest Subantarctic Island in the world.

Technical description:

  • Classification: Russian register KM ice class
  • Year built: 1984
  • Accommodation: 50 berths expedition
  • Shipyard: Finland
  • Main engines: power 2x1560 bhp (2x 1147 Kw)
  • Register: Russia
  • Maximum speed: 12 knots (2 engines),
  • Cruising speed: 10 knots(one engine)
  • Bunker capacity: 320 tons

                                                 2018 Refurbished Bar Library 

2018 Refurbished Heritage Suite  2018 Refurbished Superior Plus




Rodney Russ - Founder 

Rodney worked for 12 years as a biologist for New Zealand Wildlife Service on the management of rare and endangered bird species. It was during this work that he came to appreciate the importance of advocacy as a conservation tool. As they say the rest is history - he chartered his own vessel, a Polar Research vessel from the Russian Government, and advertised expeditions to the Subantarctic Islands, Antarctica, Pacific and more recently the Russian Far East.  The company has continued to grow and is now a leader in worldwide expedition travel. Rodney can still be regularly found doing what he likes doing best, leading expeditions on the 'Spirit of Enderby'.

Dave Bowen
David Bowen - General Manager

David is the General Manager of Heritage Travel Services, the parent company of Heritage Expeditions. After University in Salt Lake City, he embarked on a travel industry career working as a hiking guide in the National Parks of the USA, Canada and Mexico.  For over 20 years he has led several highly commended travel companies, based in the USA, Great Britain and Canada. Now living in New Zealand, when he is not driving his Christchurch desk, he can be found with his wife and kids hiking or skiing in the southern Alps and at least once a year, sailing along some remote shore of the Pacific Ocean as a guest on the Spirit of Enderby.

Nathan Russ - Operations Manager & Expedition Leader

Nathan grew with the company we now know as Heritage Expeditions, so from an early age he was infected with the curiosity to explore remote and wild regions. After training as a chef he embarked upon a career on the high seas working aboard various expedition vessels around the globe. On his return to the family business Nathan took on a variety of roles aboard the Spirit of Enderby including head chef, lecturer, Zodiac and hovercraft driver. Once he had gained sufficient experience of the unpredictable Southern Ocean and the little known Russian Far East he began to lead the expeditions. In subsequent years he regularly led groups to these and other remote regions including Melanesia and the South Pacific. Now Operations Manager, Nathan is based in the Christchurch head office and his varied skills are directed to the logistics of operating our expeditions. The staffing and provisioning of the Spirit of Enderby, combined with coordination of land based resources is a complex and exacting role which ensures many challenges for this well travelled member of the Heritage team.

Natalia Teplova

Natalia Teplova – Program Manager

With a great passion for the outdoors and an enthusiasm to share this with others, Natalia joined the Heritage Expeditions in 2009. Originally from Latvia, Natalia is multi-lingual, speaking both English and Russian fluently; she recently gained a formal qualification in translation and interpreting. On a day to day basis she is involved in operations and logistics, including untangling Russia's complex documentation and she is our main point of call for Russian translations to and from the ship. Natalia is truly a self-anointed 'perfectionist' who prides herself in aiding Heritage Expeditions organization of trips of a lifetime for our travelers.

Lynn Tough

Lynn Tough – Office Manager

With an education in travel and tourism and many years of working within the industry, Lynn joins us with experience including travel agency retail and wholesale, cruise and also tutoring those aspiring to work in the industry. Intrigued by the beautiful landscapes, history and wildlife of the Southern Ocean, Antarctica has always been close to her heart so it is ironic that she is now working with this product and the other amazing expeditions available. Moving to New Zealand from the UK over 10 years ago, Lynn now proudly calls New Zealand home.

Cassia Jackson

Cassia Jackson – Sales & Marketing Manager

Cassia has been working in the travel industry for the last decade since graduating from Canterbury University. Her travel experience includes destinations such as Mexico, Cuba, China and extensive travel throughout South East Asia and Europe. She has travelled with Heritage Expeditions on the Spirit of Enderby to the Subantarctic Islands, the Ross Sea, Wrangel Island and the Kamchatka Coast. She is keen to share her knowledge of these areas and her experiences with you.

Gill Scott-Douglas Gill Scott-Douglas - Reservations Manager

Gill joins us with 8 years project management experience from the UK. She has always had a passion for travel, shown by her worldwide travel experiences. More recently she made her way to New Zealand via South America including the Galapagos Islands - a highlight for her. She has also travelled throughout New Zealand, experiencing first hand what makes our Nature Self Drives so special.

Lorna Mckenzie Lorna McKenzie - Reservations and Design 

Lorna grew up on Canterbury's Banks Peninsula and trained as a graphic designer, working in both Christchurch and Wellington. Her affinity with the sea led her to work in marine tourism for some years where she enjoyed observing the local wildlife. She lists the Little Blue Penguin and the rare Hector's Dolphin as her two favourites. Besides her work in Reservations, Lorna is putting her design skills to good use in the office. She has always dreamed of visiting Antarctica and is very excited that working for Heritage might make this dream a reality.















Rodney Russ - Founder 

Rodney worked for 12 years as a biologist for New Zealand Wildlife Service on the management of rare and endangered bird species. It was during this work that he came to appreciate the importance of advocacy as a conservation tool. As they say the rest is history - he chartered his own vessel, a Polar Research vessel from the Russian Government, and advertised expeditions to the Subantarctic Islands, Antarctica, Pacific and more recently the Russian Far East.  The company has continued to grow and is now a leader in worldwide expedition travel. Rodney can still be regularly found doing what he likes doing best, leading expeditions on the 'Spirit of Enderby'.

Aaron Russ

Aaron Russ - Expedition Leader

Aaron has grown up surrounded by wildlife and wilderness. He has been Expedition Leader on over 100 expeditions to the world’s most remote regions. With a degree in zoology, a passion for photography and a desire to showcase the world’s premier natural history destinations, Expedition Leading comes naturally.

Nathan Russ

Nathan Russ - Operation Manager & Expedition Leader

Nathan, the younger of Rodney’s two sons has worked as a chef on a number of expedition vessels around the world. A keen and capable Expedition Leader, he has led numerous expeditions, including Spitsbergen, Antarctica, the Subantarctic Islands and all of our voyages in Russia. When not on an expedition, he manages the company’s vessel.

Adam Walleyn

Adam Walleyn- Lecturer and Expedition Leader

Adam was born in the Canadian Prairies, and has found his niche in Expedition Travel as a guide and naturalist. Knowledgeable and unflappable he is the perfect guide and companion when travelling to remote shores. He returns to the Russian Far East for another season – because in his words “there is still so much more to see and share”.

Samuel Blanc

Samuel Blanc- Lecturer and Zodiac Driver

Samuel grew up in the French Alps. After three years working as a naturalist guide in France and Spain, Samuel spent 15 months at the French Antarctic research station Dumont d’Urville. There he studied seals, petrels, skuas, Adelie and Emperor Penguins. This keen photographer is now a passionate polar region specialist and joins us again in Russia to share his knowledge.

Alex Fergus

Alex Fergus - Lecturer and Zodiac Driver

Alex received an Enderby Trust Scholarship which led to his career as a botanist and ecologist. After two Subantarctic voyages, he studied in Switzerland, then explored the Swiss Alps, the taiga of Arctic Sweden and the Afghan Hindu Kush. Alex looks forward to sharing his knowledge of the plants found on your Russian Far East adventure.

Katya Ovsyanikova

Katya Ovsyanikova - Lecturer and Zodiac Driver

Katya is a biology graduate from Moscow State University. The daughter of High Arctic biologists, she has lived and worked in the Russian Far East from an early age. Passionate is the only word to describe her love of this region and its wildlife. She has worked for Heritage Expeditions for a number of seasons.

Julia Mishina

Julia Mishina -Assistant Expedition Leader 

Julia was born and raised in Kamchatka. Her first vocation was teaching but she has been involved in travel and tourism for a number of years. She is responsible for the permits and permissions required to operate our expeditions and regularly joins us on board as an Assistant Expedition Leader.

Meghan Kelly

Meghan Kelly - Hotel Manager

Meghan is a Southern California native who grew up exploring the desert landscape. She completed her education as an Environmental Scientist and worked in Fiji for three years to implement environmental resource management projects in rural villages. As the Cruise Director, Meghan manages passenger comfort on board, ensuring an enjoyable and rewarding time.

Chris Collins

Chris Collins - Lecturer

Chris is an accountant turned ‘birder’. A regular member of our expedition staff, his enthusiasm is obvious and his knowledge inexhaustible. He has guided in Antarctica, the Southern Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Russian Far East. When he is not on board our ship you will find him ‘birding’ somewhere around the globe.

Download our latest brochures Sign up for our free newsletter
Latest news & specials Kayaking available
Heritage Expeditions on youtube