Antarctica Featuring the Ross Sea
- 26 Days
- Hobart, Australia - Hobart, Australia
- Voyage code:
- Greg Mortimer
from AUD $41,995.00/pp
See 'Cabins & Prices' tab for discounted rates. This expedition is subject to regulatory approval and only open to Australian residents.
Step back into the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration to discover a wildlife wonderland. Departing Tasmania’s glorious south coast, sail to New Zealand’s Auckland and Enderby Islands to encounter sea lion harems and yellow-eyed penguins in the rata forests. While on Campbell Island, magnificent royal albatross court amidst megaherb meadows. Crossing the Antarctic Convergence, enter pack ice alive with orcas, seals and emperor penguins. On Cape Adare, the first documented landing site in Antarctica, be overwhelmed by the world’s largest Adélie penguin colony. Deep in the Ross Sea, the amazingly preserved huts of Scott and Shackleton await. Sail north, aiming for the remote Balleny Islands, then on to the tussocked coast of Macquarie Island, home to half a million king penguins and vast wallows of elephant seals. After a month away, the emerald shores of Tasmania greet you like a warm smile.
This expedition is subject to regulatory approval and only open to Australian residents.
- Delve into New Zealand’s hobbit world of stunted rata forests on Enderby Island where shy, yellow-eyed penguins shuffle and sea lions roar, and witness Campbell Island’s royal albatross ballet
- Stand quietly in huts little-changed since Scott, Shackleton, Mawson and others wintered there, then launched desperate journeys that would define the Heroic Age
- Gaze in wonder at ethereal, ice-clad summits of the Transantarctic Mountains, in the unique ‘Ross Sea’ ecosystem – part of a “Hope Spot” designated by Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue team
In true expedition style we encourage exploration and adventure, offering flexibility in challenging environments in a way that puts you among the action to see and do as much as possible. This itinerary is only a guide and subject to change due to ice and weather conditions.
Day 1 Hobart
Enjoy a warm welcome aboard the Greg Mortimer, be shown your cabin and depart Hobart in the evening. Follow in the wake of Sir Douglas Mawson and the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911, that also sailed down the Derwent River and into Storm Bay. After dinner, enjoy magnificent views of Cape Raoul’s striking dolerite cliffs on a ship’s cruise past Tasman Island.
Days 2-4 At Sea
Enjoy exciting days at sea, with entertaining talks on exploration and natural history. Spend time on deck photographing seabirds and keeping an eye out for the rare sight of Campbell, Salvins and white-capped albatross, seen in few other regions.
Days 5-7 Auckland Islands & Campbell Island (Motu Ihupuku)
First discovered in 1806 by British whaler Abraham Bristow, these remote specks of land in the Southern Ocean are a refuge for thousands of birds and sea lions. Depending on weather and sea conditions, Enderby Island, the most northern in the Auckland Islands, is our first landing. Hop aboard a Zodiac to cruise into Sandy Bay, land near a researcher’s hut, and be greeted by raucous New Zealand (Hooker’s) sea lions, the world’s rarest and most endangered of the five sea lion species. It’s breeding season, as 500-kilogram adult males fight for the favour of females, who form harems of up to 25 attended by a single dominant bull. Keep an eye out for newborn pups. Enter a forest fit for hobbits, walking among twisted trunks of southern rata trees. Stretch your legs on a hike across the island’s megaherb moors, spotting yellow-eyed penguins, light-mantled sooty albatross and royal albatross with a wingspan of nearly 3.5 metres. Our second day begins with an exciting Zodiac cruise through Victoria Passage, a lively channel separating Adams Island from Auckland Island (Motu Maha), and finishes with a walk into Erlangen Clearing, to hear of a German merchant ship that scavenged timber for its boilers hoping to escape to South America during World War II. After lunch, visit Carnley Harbour for superb Zodiac-cruising, and walks through rata forests alive with birdsong to historic sites from early sealers and World War II coastwatchers.
Campbell Island, New Zealand’s most southerly subantarctic island is the highly eroded remnant of an ancient volcano that rises to 570 metres and cops some rough weather – gusts over 50 knots (96 kph) occur at least 100 days a year. Wind and weather permitting, we plan to Zodiac cruise the protected Northeast Harbour to photograph waterfalls, yellow-eyed penguins and possibly the reintroduced endemic Campbell Island snipe. At Perseverance Harbour, an opportunity to hike up a boardwalk through flowering megaherb meadows to breeding southern royal albatross allows us to sit quietly and watch as they unfurl their three-metre wingspan, clack their beaks and issue their unforgettable, mournful cries.
Days 8-11 At Sea
Marvel at the ULSTEIN X-BOW’s ability to smooth our ride as we sail the Southern Ocean, admiring wandering albatross in flight. Cross the Antarctic Convergence, where cold, dense polar waters meet temperate waters, hopefully heralding our first iceberg. Entering the ethereal world of pack ice, rejoice at how quickly the seas calm. Keep a watch for orcas, seals and penguins as we navigate a wonderland few have experienced.
Days 12-18 Ross Sea
Over these next expedition days, the nature and timing of our outings will be dictated by ice, wind and weather and other conditions beyond our control. The places of interest below are a general guide of the places we hope to visit.
Cape Adare, at the tip of the Ross Sea, is home to Antarctica’s largest Adélie penguin colony and site of the first recorded landing in Antarctica. Ice and weather permitting, wend your way through ice-floes to land on the flat, cobbled spit shared by more than a million noisy penguins, many busy feeding chicks before joining the endless conveyor of adults moving to and from the sea. Treading carefully, we plan to make our way to Borchgrevink’s Hut, the oldest in Antarctica, where Norwegian/Australian Carsten Borchgrevink and his small team overwintered in 1899-1900. Step inside to inspect the interior and its artefacts and marvel at what it took to spend a dark winter here.
Set against the spectacular backdrop the wild Admiralty Mountains, Cape Hallett was the Antarctic foothold for the Australian Bicentennial Antarctic Expedition led by Aurora Expeditions founder (and ship’s namesake) Greg Mortimer. In 1988, Greg Mortimer and his team hauled sledges inland from here to climb 4263-m Mt Minto. If conditions permit, we plan to land near an abandoned American/New Zealand base to photograph the many Adélie penguins and Weddell seals on this breathtaking site.
Named after one of Robert Falcon Scott’s relief ships for his 1901-04 Discovery Expedition, Terra Nova Bay contains the remains of Drygalski Ice Tongue, what’s left after two massive icebergs sheared more than 200 sq km of ice from it in 2005 and 2006. We hope to visit the second largest emperor penguin colony in Antarctica at Cape Washington, and Inexpressible Island, where in 1912, Scott’s Northern Party dropped off six men for geological work over six weeks. Pack ice stopped their ship from returning and they spent a miserable winter in a 3.7 m x 2.7 m ice cave they excavated, living on the few seals and penguins they could find. In the Spring, they trekked 320 km around the coast to the main expedition party on Ross Island.
McMurdo Sound could be described as the ‘heart of Antarctica’. If the ice permits, we enter a surreal world of exquisite beauty, where steam erupts from the 3,794 metre summit of Mt Erebus, the Transantarctic Mountains shimmer to the west, and the polar icecap wraps around Ross Island, home to Antarctica’s greatest monuments from the Heroic Age of Exploration. If conditions permit, we may have a chance to visit Discovery Hut (Scott’s Nimrod expedition), Shackleton’s Hut at Cape Royds, or Scott’s Hut (British Antarctic Expedition) at Cape Evans. Stand quietly amidst artefacts from these great expeditions then step outside to the busy world of Adélie penguins and Weddell seals.
Sail along the perfectly cleaved ice cliffs of Antarctica’s largest ice shelf. Rising 30 metres from icy waters patrolled by pods of orca, the Ross Ice Shelf is about the size of France and the world’s largest body of floating ice. Watch for ethereal snow petrels as they play on air currents sweeping down from the polar ice cap.
Enjoy an exploration day, as we make our way back to the top of the Ross Sea. We may try landing on Franklin Island, with its vast Adélie penguin rookery and the chance to hike to the island’s summit. Or Zodiac-cruise the small rocky islets of Possession Islands; or simply pick a spot on the map to see what we can see.
We may attempt to reach the remote Balleny Islands, a 160-km chain of islands that provides resting and breeding habitat for seabirds and three seal species, yet few people have ever landed here. Volcanic in origin, some islands are still active. Elephant, leopard and crabeater seals have been identified in surrounding waters and Adélie penguins breed on shore. Simply seeing the islands would be a thrill, to Zodiac-cruise amongst them even better, a landing – the best. True expedition cruising.
Days 19-21 At Sea
As we put the grandeur of Antarctica behind us, these days at sea can mark a time for reflection, reading or pursuing creative activities. But keep watch outside, as these waters are rich in whale species, from humpback and orca, to the greater whale species, like blue.
Day 22 Macquarie Island
Douglas Mawson set up his communication base here in December 1911, and now supports one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the Southern Ocean. Millions of penguins of four different species – king, rockhopper, gentoo and the endemic royal – breed here. Upon arrival, we hope to land at Sandy Bay, where a boardwalk leads up to a royal penguin rookery teeming with showy birds displaying their golden head feathers. At the shore are stately king penguins and chicks, and above fly black-browed and light-mantled sooty albatross. Fur and elephant seals hide amongst thick tussocks that have come back to life, thanks to a successful pest-eradication program.
Days 23-25 At Sea
Heading north, take time to assimilate the rich experiences of the past few weeks. Organise photo files, tidy up a journal or simply relax before stepping back into the ‘unreal’ world. As you approach Tasmania, breathe in the warmth and smells of the ‘Apple Isle’, a delight after almost a month away in the frozen latitudes. Like Mawson before us, we make our way into Storm Bay and up the Derwent to Hobart.
Day 26 Hobart
After breakfast, farewell your expedition team and disembark to be transferred to the airport or your hotel accommodation.
Important note: In the spirit of expedition travel, we encourage exploration and adventure offering flexibility in challenging environments. This itinerary is only a guide and is subject to change due to weather, sea state, ice and other conditions beyond our control.
- Arrival transfer from airport to Greg Mortimer on Day 1
- Departure transfer from Greg Mortimer to airport or hotel on last day
- Onboard accommodation during voyage including daily cabin service
- All meals, snacks, tea and coffee during voyage
- Beer, house wine and soft drinks with dinner
- Captain’s Welcome and Farewell reception including four-course dinner, house cocktails, house beer and wine, non-alcoholic beverages
- All shore excursions and Zodiac cruises
- Educational lectures and guiding services from expedition team
- Complimentary access to onboard expedition doctor and medical clinic (initial consult)
- A 3-in-1 waterproof polar expedition jacket
- Complimentary use of muck boots during the voyage
- Port surcharges, permits and landing fees
- Gratuities for ship crew
- International or domestic flights not mentioned in the itinerary
- Transfers not mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival or departure taxes
- Passport, visa, and vaccination charges
- Travel insurance or emergency evacuation charges
- Hotels and meals not included in itinerary
- Optional excursions not included in the itinerary
- Optional activity surcharges
- All items of a personal nature including but not limited to: alcoholic beverages and soft drinks (outside of dinner service), laundry services, personal clothing, medical expenses, gratuities, Wi-Fi, email or phone charges.
Lectures on wildlife, our environment, history and destinations
Whale and mammal spotting
From AUD $1,100.00/pp
Get down to water level and paddle through sea ice, among glistening icebergs and wildlife. Encounter sea-ice seals hauled out …
Get down to water level and paddle through sea ice, among glistening icebergs and wildlife. Encounter sea-ice seals hauled out on ice floes, dodge rafts of porpoising penguins and perhaps be pleasantly startled by curious whales surfacing to get a closer look at you. Led by highly-experienced and enthusiastic guides, join a small group of up to 20 like-minded paddlers eager to fully experience nature at its wildest. Kayaking in the polar regions can be strenuous and challenging, and is therefore not recommended for complete novices.
Rather than travelling large distances, our aim is to see as much as possible. We paddle anywhere between 5 to 15 kilometres (2 to 4 hours) per outing, sometimes taking a snack and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy on our excursion.
Each group of 4 to 10 kayakers will have their own intimate exploration of the small hidden bays and coasts that may be inaccessible to the Zodiacs and will also make time for their own shore excursions and wildlife encounters.
When we visit the poles, the elements play an important role. It is important that you have an adventurous attitude and understand that our kayaking time will be affected by the weather that we experience.
Even if your experience is limited, we’d encourage you to call us to discuss your suitability. There is often ample time to gain the required experience before you depart. Kayakers should be aged 14 years or over.
- Kayak & Paddle
- Neoprene boots
- Safety gear
- A 15-litre dry bag
- Life jackets
- Dry suits
- Pogies (insulated mittens that attach to your paddle)
Our guides have years of kayaking experience in our destinations. The sea kayaking guide will lead the group on each excursion, explaining facts about the wildlife and other highlights we paddle across. Read about some of our expert guides below.
How to Book
Please return the kayaking form at time of booking that you would like to include the optional sea kayaking activity for your expedition. Places are limited so we recommend reserving your place early.View more details
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*Terms & Conditions apply. Offer is only valid on new bookings and on select ship voyages only which must be booked and deposited by 24th April 2021. Promotion is subject to availability at the time of booking and capacity controlled. The promotion is only available in conjunction with the back to back voyage discount or the loyalty program offer, and not available with any other offer. The promotion can be withdrawn at any time and is not redeemable for cash. Prices and offers correct at time of printing and subject to change. Normal booking terms and conditions apply. To confirm your booking, a completed booking form and non-refundable deposit of AUD 2,500 per person is required within 7 days of reserved berth/s. Additional terms and conditions may apply. Please see full terms and conditions.