Skip to main content

Chatham Islands, Subantarctic Expedition

10 Days FROM USD 5,450



Undertake an incredible Subantarctic expedition to the Chatham archipelago. Known as 'Rehou' by the first Moriori inhabitants, these unique islands are the first inhabited landmass around the globe to be greeted by the morning sun. These islands are often dubbed the 'Galapagos of the Antarctic' due to vast wildlife and incredible natural sights. From encountering one of the worlds rarest seabirds (with a population of only 150) to zodiac cruising near remote islets or visiting unique private reserves home to curious penguins. The Subantarctic Islands are perfect for guests seeking an expedition experience close to home.

Optional Activities :

Trip Code: ACHECHI

Travel Style: Small Ship Expedition Cruise

Location: Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

Ship: Akademik Shokalskiy

Flights: We offer a range of flight options to meet your cruise. Contact us today to discuss


  • The Subantarctic islands offer a truly unique expedition experience, complete with vast wildlife opportunities and indescribable natural sites close to shores of Australia and New Zealand.

  • On board the Akademik Shokalskiy you will find an intimate small ship expedition experience that proposes the highest degree of safety and hygiene, providing an unforgettable expedition experience.


Make your way to the Ascot Park Hotel where we will transfer you to our departure at the Port of Bluff. (Reporting times and the departure time of the transfer will be confirmed with your voyage documents). The township of Bluff is situated on the northeastern side of Bluff Hill, an extinct volcanic cone which forms a knoll at the southern end of the Bluff Peninsula which extends into Foveaux Strait. The captain and expedition team will be waiting to welcome you on board the ship and show you to your cabin. You will then have the opportunity to familiarise yourself on board, followed by formal introductions to the expedition team and safety briefings.

Embarkation in Invercargill

At sea en route to the Antipodes, today is a day for pelagic birding. Species commonly seen in this area include Wandering Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Campbell Island Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, Salvin’s Albatross, Grey-headed Albatross, Northern and Southern Giant Petrel, and the Sooty Shearwater and Little Shearwater. This region of the Southern Ocean is one of the few places where the Fairy Prion, Fulmar Prion and Antarctic Prion occur together, providing a good opportunity for comparison. Other species to be on the lookout for include the Soft-plumaged Petrel, Mottled Petrel, White-headed Petrel, Grey-faced Petrel, Whitechinned Petrel, Grey-backed Storm-petrel, Wilson’s Stormpetrel, Black-bellied Storm-petrel and the Common Diving-petrel.

At Sea

The Antipodes Islands are the most isolated and perhaps least known of New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands. Sealers lived here in the decades immediately after the islands’ discovery in 1806 and two historic, and one recent, shipwreck have been recorded here. The islands are of volcanic origin, but are heavily eroded, especially the western shoreline which is ragged and dotted with sea caves, stacks and coves.

Landings are not permitted on the Antipodes group, so if the weather and sea conditions are suitable, we plan to cruise along the coastline of Antipodes Island by Zodiac. The bull kelp Durvillaea Antarctica ‘Antipodes Island’ is prevalent here, this dark-brown subtidal plant with thick flattened blades can grow up to 10 metres long. As we Zodiac cruise the coastline we have a good chance of seeing the Antipodes Parakeet, the largest of New Zealand’s parakeets, which has an entirely green head. We will also be looking for the Reischek’s Parakeet, a strong subspecies of the Red-crowned Parakeet found in the Auckland Islands and on the Chatham Islands, as well as the Antipodes subspecies of the New Zealand Pipit.

We can also expect good views of both Erect-crested and Rockhopper Penguins along the coast where they often breed in mixed colonies. Antarctic Terns and Kelp Gulls are also often seen in good numbers.

Antipodes Island

We arrive at the incongruously named Bounty Islands, the northernmost of the five New Zealand Subantarctic groups. They were discovered by Captain William Bligh when the British naval ship HMS Bounty sailed by the islands in 1788, just months before the infamous mutiny. Here inhospitable granite knobs, tips of the submerged Bounty Platform, are lashed by the Southern Ocean. They are home to thousands of Salvin’s Albatross, Erect-crested Penguins, Fulmar Prions and the endemic Bounty Island Shag – the world’s rarest. We plan to arrive in the early morning and if sea and weather conditions are suitable we will cruise by Zodiac around the granite outposts to take a closer look at the birds which breed here. New Zealand Fur Seals which were almost hunted to extinction in the Subantarctic Islands are present in large numbers.

After the cruise we depart for the Chatham Islands. There are opportunities to see a good selection of birdlife as we sail. These should include Wandering Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, Mottled Petrel, Softplumaged Petrel, Broad-billed Prion, White-chinned Petrel and Black-bellied Storm-petrel as well as Wilson’s Storm-petrel.

Bounty Island

There are excellent opportunities for pelagic birding as we approach the Chatham Islands’ archipelago. In particular, we will look out for the Chatham Island Petrel, and in the past we have observed the very rare Chatham Island Taiko in this area too. Endemic to the Chatham Islands, the Chatham Island Taiko – also known as the Magenta Petrel – is among New Zealand’s most endangered species. It is one of the world’s rarest seabirds with a population estimated at less than 150. This expedition has been planned to take advantage of the warmer, longer days of early autumn in order to maximise our time here. We will work closely with the Chatham Island people in order to create an extensive and varied programme ensuring greater appreciation and exploration of these islands. The daily itinerary will be determined by weather and sea conditions.

You may pay a visit to several Islands including:

Pitt Island - Spectacular scenery waits at Pitt Island, the jewel in the Chatham Islands’ crown. The easternmost inhabited island in New Zealand, it is situated approximately 22 kilometres south-east of the main Chatham Island. Named ‘Rangihaute’ by the Moriori, it is separated from the main island by Pitt Strait and is officially the first inhabited place on Earth to be greeted by the sun of each new day.

Pyramid Rock - We plan to cruise around the spectacular basalt outcrop of Pyramid Rock, south of Pitt Island – the only breeding place of the Chatham Island Albatross. Landings are not possible (nor practical – a fact you will appreciate when you see it) but great views of birds can be had from the ship and there will also be hundreds of birds following behind.

Chatham Island - The charming and friendly main settlement of Waitangi features a wharf in the township and is normally bustling with activity from fisherman and the locals are always happy to stop and chat. Near our landing in Waitangi there is a good chance of seeing the endemic Chatham Island Shag.

Chatham Islands - Day 5 to 8

En route to Christchurch we will cross the Chatham Rise, an elongated underwater extension of the New Zealand subcontinent. Large and relatively shallowly submerged, it stretches east from the South Island of New Zealand and is where the cold Antarctic currents meet warm tropical streams. The resulting upwelling produces an abundance of food, with nutrient-rich waters there is an overlap between northern pelagic species and birds from southern latitudes, so we can expect some great pelagic sightings

Species we expect to encounter include Wandering Albatross, Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, White-capped Albatross and Salvin’s Albatross. Petrel species we should be able to identify are the Northern Giant Petrel, Cape Petrel, Westland Black Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Great-winged Petrel, Grey-backed Storm-petrel, Whitefaced Storm-petrel, the DivingPetrel and Cook’s Petrel.

At Sea

After a final breakfast we will prepare for our midday arrival in the Port of Lyttelton. On disembarkation you will board our complimentary transfer to either a central city drop off point or Christchurch airport. In case of unexpected delays due to weather and/or port operations we ask you not to book any onward travel until after mid-afternoon today.

Disembarkation in Christchurch

Pricing per person & dates

Departing Ending Duration Price
12 Mar 2022 21 Mar 2022 10 USD 5,450
Cabin Type Price
Triple Cabin USD 5,450
Main Deck Twin USD 5,850
Superior USD 6,200
Superior Plus USD 6,750
Mini Suite USD 6,950
Suite USD 7,440

Important Information

  • Cabin accommodation on board ship
    All meals on board
    All scheduled landings and excursions
    Guiding and lectures by experienced expedition staff and crew
    Landing fees (USD100 per person)
    Pre/post cruise transfers


    International flights
    Visa and reciprocity fees (if applicable) 
    Travel and medical insurance
    Any activities not mentioned as included
    Gratuities for staff/crew

  • 2 (light adventure)
  • Available upon request, contact us for more details.

  • Please note this itinerary is subject to change depending on weather conditions.

  • Departure date, seasonality and availability



Being environmentally accountable is a crucial part of our organisation. Chimu is currently striving towards using less paper, taking several initiatives to do so and tracking our progress along the way. Our goal: A paperless organisation. For this reason, all information given to you will be sent electronically. We encourage those who choose to travel with us to support our aspirations and actions and ask that you reconsider printing out documentation. To view these documents, you can download them to your iPad or portable computer before and during your trip.

Chimu is passionate and dedicated to sustainability measures and understands the crucial part sustainability plays within the tourism industry.

We use local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprint. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting. Our guides are all highly qualified (most with university degrees) or equip with many years of experience and are paid above the standard wage. Whether it be our knowledgeable local guides, locally produced meals or the transport on tour, we do not use imported goods when local products are available. We aim to minimise our impact on the environment and give as much back as possible to the communities we work in.

While visiting the many national parks, heritage sites, museums and landmarks our travellers are encouraged to explore whilst remaining culturally aware and sensitive. We further encourage you to buy appropriate souvenirs and discourage the buying of anything wrongfully made or taken from the environment i.e. shells and endangered species products. Information on how you can be environmentally conscious, and travel responsibly will be made available in our Travellers Guides and provided during your travels by guides and staff.

For more information on our sustainability policies, including how we are striving towards being a paperless organisation, click HERE

Copyright © Chimu Adventures All rights reserved 2004 - 2021