Kermadecs - Land of Dreams:

Discover New Zealand's Subtropical Kermadec Islands

Kermadecs - Land of Dreams: Discover New Zealand's Subtropical Kermadec Islands

DAYS 11

PLACES VISITED

A pristine subtropical archipelago surrounded by one of New Zealand's largest marine reserves, the remote Kermadec Islands/ Rangitāhua are of such international conservation significance they require a special permit to visit.

Lying 1,000-kilometres north-east of New Zealand, about half way to Tonga and well off the main shipping routes, few people know, or have even heard of, this 2,500-kilometre long island chain of around 80 undersea volcanoes rising some 8,000-metres from the Kermadec Ridge, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

There are four main islands within the Kermadec Group where a unique assemblage of subtropical and temperate plant, bird and marine species flourish uninterrupted, testimony to the process of evolution arising from climate and isolation.

Polynesians were the first to settle these islands, possibly as early as the 10th Century, but certainly by the 14th Century as well as using them as staging posts for voyages to New Zealand. However, when Europeans discovered them in 1788, they were uninhabited.

Raoul Island, the largest in the group, was settled by the Bell family in 1878 who would live there until 1914. While other settlers would come and go, permanent settlement was discouraged after 1939, the New Zealand Government has maintained a weather station on the island since 1938.

Introduced plants and animals left behind by the settlers have had a significant impact on the island's ecosystem, but now an ambitious conservation program is attempting to restore Raoul Island to its original splendor. The goats, cats and rats have been removed and many introduced plants had been controlled by Raoul Island Rangers who spent 12 months on the island. Bird numbers and diversity are increasing and endemic plants are recovering, testimony to what can be achieved with vision and hard work.

An extensive 745,000-hectare Marine Reserve protects the unique marine ecosystem that surrounds these islands. With virtually no disturbance (certainly no fishing and only a handful of divers each year) the diving and snorkelling can only be described as amazing and unique. As with the terrestrial species there is both subtropical and temperate
species to be encountered.

This is not an annual expedition. It is off the beaten track, even for us, but it is so rare to have the opportunity to explore such unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems that we are constantly drawn back. We hope you will join us on one of our rare expeditions to the remote Kermadec Islands.

A pristine subtropical archipelago surrounded by one of New Zealand's largest marine reserves, the remote Kermadec Islands/ Rangitāhua are of such international conservation significance they require a special permit to visit.

Lying 1,000-kilometres north-east of New Zealand, about half way to Tonga and well off the main shipping routes, few people know, or have even heard of, this 2,500-kilometre long island chain of around 80 undersea volcanoes rising some 8,000-metres from the Kermadec Ridge, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

There are four main islands within the Kermadec Group where a unique assemblage of subtropical and temperate plant, bird and marine species flourish uninterrupted, testimony to the process of evolution arising from climate and isolation.

Polynesians were the first to settle these islands, possibly as early as the 10th Century, but certainly by the 14th Century as well as using them as staging posts for voyages to New Zealand. However, when Europeans discovered them in 1788, they were uninhabited.

Raoul Island, the largest in the group, was settled by the Bell family in 1878 who would live there until 1914. While other settlers would come and go, permanent settlement was discouraged after 1939, the New Zealand Government has maintained a weather station on the island since 1938.

Introduced plants and animals left behind by the settlers have had a significant impact on the island's ecosystem, but now an ambitious conservation program is attempting to restore Raoul Island to its original splendor. The goats, cats and rats have been removed and many introduced plants had been controlled by Raoul Island Rangers who spent 12 months on the island. Bird numbers and diversity are increasing and endemic plants are recovering, testimony to what can be achieved with vision and hard work.

An extensive 745,000-hectare Marine Reserve protects the unique marine ecosystem that surrounds these islands. With virtually no disturbance (certainly no fishing and only a handful of divers each year) the diving and snorkelling can only be described as amazing and unique. As with the terrestrial species there is both subtropical and temperate
species to be encountered.

This is not an annual expedition. It is off the beaten track, even for us, but it is so rare to have the opportunity to explore such unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems that we are constantly drawn back. We hope you will join us on one of our rare expeditions to the remote Kermadec Islands.

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ITINERARY
Kermadecs - Land of Dreams: Discover New Zealand's Subtropical Kermadec Islands
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Day 1: Tauranga
Make your way to a central city meeting point (Reporting times and the departure time of the transfer will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The township of Tauranga is situated on the east coast of the North Island in the Bay of Plenty. The bay was given its name by Captain James Cook while circumnavigating New Zealand in 1769; he was alluding to the region’s welcoming people and abundant resources. Nothing has changed. The captain and expedition team will be waiting for your arrival at the ship to greet you and show you to your cabin. You will have the opportunity to unpack before exploring the ship and meeting other expeditioners, there will also be formal introductions to the team followed by safety briefings. Join us on deck this evening as we depart the Port of Tauranga and make our way past the conical headland of Mount Maunganui before setting a course north-east across the Bay of Plenty.

Day 2: At Sea
A day at sea is a chance to relax. Do some reading in the bar/library, birding from the bridge, our open bridge policy means you can join the captain and crew here anytime, or head out on the deck and enjoy some sunshine. We will schedule a series of lectures, videos and briefings to prepare us for our visit to the Kermadecs. For the keen birders, we will be sailing across deep waters – prime Pterodroma Petrel country and we are likely to see an impressive variety of these birds. We are likely to encounter Black-winged, White-necked, Kermadec and Cook’s Petrel and there is always the chance of something really rare. For example past expeditions have recorded Providence and Phoenix Petrels in this area. If viewing conditions are favourable we may also see Sperm Whale and the elusive Cuvier’s Beaked Whale.

Day 3: L’Esperance Rock, Curtis and Cheeseman Islands
Today we continue our journey northwards, arriving in the afternoon at the southernmost island in the group L’Esperance Rock. Later we will visit Curtis and nearby Cheeseman Islands. If the weather and sea conditions are suitable we will enjoy a Zodiac cruise as no landings are permitted. All of these islands are havens for breeding seabirds and we are likely to encounter impressive numbers as we cruise offshore. In addition to the more common species, we will be on the lookout for White-bellied Storm-Petrel and the Kermadec White-faced Storm-Petrel. We are also likely to encounter some tropical seabirds that occur nowhere else in New Zealand, such as Masked Booby, Red-tailed Tropicbird, and Black Noddy. The distinct local species of Bottlenose Dolphin often accompanies us as we approach these islands.

Days 4 to 7: Raoul Island
We have four days scheduled for activities at Raoul Island, including options for snorkelling and hikes ashore. The weather and sea conditions will dictate our activities to a certain extent and the Expedition Leader will take these into consideration when planning the daily programme. The seas surrounding the Kermadecs are the only true example of subtropical waters in New Zealand, and are sufficiently distant from the mainland to have escaped heavy commercial fishing. The extensive Marine Reserve ensures added protection and guarantees some of the best snorkelling in the South Pacific. Galapagos Sharks and large, inquisitive Spotted Black Grouper have been seen on previous expeditions. During our time at Raoul Island we will also cruise the Meyer Islets by Zodiac to experience the seabirds returning to the Islets in the evenings. Many of these birds are endemic, including the Kermadec Petrel, the White-napped Petrel, and the Kermadec species of the Little Shearwater. On shore there is the opportunity to observe the endemic Kermadec Red-crowned Parakeet and it is also one of the easiest places to see Spotless Crakes. We should also get good views of Black Noddy, Grey Ternlet, White Tern and the beautiful Red-tailed Tropicbird. There is much to see on Raoul Island, and one of the best ways to explore and experience this subtropical paradise is on one of the many walking tracks. Depending on the weather there will be several opportunities to explore the island by foot on walks catering to all fitness levels.

Day 8: Macauley Island
We arrive at Macauley Island early in the morning. The original forest cover was destroyed by goats and since their removal in the 1970s the vegetation is slowly recovering. Landings are not permitted on this island so we will Zodiac cruise if sea conditions are suitable.

Days 9 to 10: At Sea
These days present an opportunity to catch your breath after our activities at Raoul and Macauley Islands. Our staff will be offering lectures and further presentations on the islands and some of the conservation issues surrounding them.

Day 11: Tauranga
Our vessel will berth in Tauranga this morning. Enjoy breakfast on board and a last minute opportunity to bid farewell to your expedition team before disembarking and boarding our complimentary coach transfer to the central city or local airport. Our adventure ends but memories will last long beyond this. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel from Tauranga until after midday today. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include poor weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed. This expedition offers varied activities and excursions, your interest will determine which of these you wish to partake in, please note that some activities and excursions will run at similar times and it will therefore not be possible to participate in both, no refund of excursions and missed landings will be available due to this.

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