Aurora Expeditions requires all embarking crew, Expedition Team and our guests to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to embarking on any of its cruises.
See 'Cabins & Prices' tab for discounted rates. This expedition is subject to regulatory approval and only open to Australian and New Zealand residents.
Follow in the wake of Australia’s greatest polar pioneer. Departing Tasmania’s glorious south coast, sail to New Zealand’s Auckland Islands to encounter sea lion harems and yellow-eyed penguins. On Campbell Island, delight in royal albatross courting amidst megaherb meadows. Sail south into pack ice, skirt the Mertz Glacier Tongue and enjoy the wildlife-rich waters leading to Commonwealth Bay. Ice and katabatic winds allowing, Mawson’s Hut transports you back to the Heroic Age, where the ghosts of Sir Douglas’s team await. Cruise west along the East Antarctic coastline searching for emperor and Adélie penguins, snow petrels, seals and orcas. Sailing north, drop into Macquarie Island, where vast king penguin rookeries, nesting albatross and elephant seal wallows await.
This expedition is subject to regulatory approval and only open to Australian and New Zealand residents.
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.
Please note: The weather and sea conditions on this voyage are unpredictable. Your safety is our main concern and we will only undertake kayaking in calm and safe conditions which may mean that kayaking on this voyage occurs in limited places and have limited outings. Kayaking in New Zealand is subject to permitting and regulatory approval. If not obtained, these voyages will not include kayaking in the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands.
Having made your way to Hobart, you will be met by a representative of Aurora Expeditions and transferred to our group hotel. Upon arrival, kindly remind hotel check-in staff to provide you with Aurora Expeditions cabin tags for your luggage. Please clearly label the tags with your name and ship cabin number.
That evening, enjoy a light refreshment as you meet your fellow expeditioners at a Welcome Reception and Pre-Embarkation Briefing. Afterwards, there’s free time to dine at your leisure (Dinner not included).
Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Hobart Hotel.
This morning, please ensure your cabin luggage is fitted with cabin tags clearly labelled with your name and cabin number. Please take your cabin luggage down to hotel reception by 10.00 am. Please keep any valuables or personal items with you throughout the day. Enjoy breakfast in the hotel before a short walking tour of Tasmania’s Antarctic heritage (approx. 2 hours).
During this time, your luggage will be transferred to the ship for sanitisation and delivery to your cabin. We will then conduct our final, mandatory pre-embarkation health screening and COVID (rapid antigen) testing before you are transferred to the Port of Hobart for embarkation of the Greg Mortimer in the late afternoon. Settle into your cabin before attending important safety briefings, and enjoy the thrill of departure as we ‘throw the lines’ and set sail.
In the evening, meet your expedition team and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Dinner as we 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. Keep an eye out for the magnificent views of Cape Raoul’s striking dolerite cliffs of Tasman Island.
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.
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 explorations of Carnley Harbour, with superb Zodiac cruising, walks through rata forests alive with birdsong and historic sites from early sealers and World War II coastwatchers.
Campbell Island (Motu Ihupuku), 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 protected harbours and coves 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.
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.
Ice and weather permitting, we enter Commonwealth Bay, dubbed the ‘Home of the Blizzard’ by Mawson. We hope to land at Cape Denison, where the hut was built for his 1911-14 expedition and has withstood katabatic winds since then, thanks to the efforts the Mawson Hut Foundation. If calm enough conditions prevail, we plan to land and walk across to Mawson’s Hut. Step inside and immediately feel connected with the era and men of that incredible expedition. With luck we may see Wilson's storm petrels, Weddell seals, Adélie penguins and perhaps some skuas. Since Mawson’s day, the South Magnetic Pole has migrated off the land and is now located out to sea. Ice and weather permitting, our Captain will attempt to manoeuvre the Greg Mortimer into position over the South Magnetic pole.
Heading east, we hope to stop at the rocky toehold of Point Martin on the Antarctic Plateau, usually out of reach of Commonwealth Bay’s notorious katabatic winds. Here we may visit the French Base abandoned after a fire in the 1950s, and now home to a lively Adélie penguin colony. On Christmas Day, we continue towards Petrel Island, aptly named for its nesting grounds of snow and Wilson’s storm petrels. We hope to walk the island shores and perhaps board our Zodiacs to admire the ice-front of the Astrolabe Glacier. Finally, before heading northwards, we plan to sail past the ice tongue of Mertz Glacier, which floats kilometres out to sea before disgorging icebergs into the Southern Ocean. Just over a decade ago, the massive iceberg designated B09B collided with the ice tongue and knocked 80 percent off its length, leaving a 20 km stub. Nonetheless, this natural barrier continues to attract wildlife, including the larger whale species. Should the opportunity arise, we take a closer look at its crevassed ice cliffs from our Zodiacs.
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.
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 Zodiac-cruise Lusitania Bay. The king penguin rookery here is a quarter of a million strong, noisy and spectacular. A welcoming committee will likely porpoise around our Zodiacs, and leopard seals often patrol the waters. Our next days are spent around 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. Celebrate our final landing at New Year’s Eve celebrations on board.
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. After almost a month away, the emerald shores of Tasmania greet you like a warm smile as, like Mawson before us, we make our way into Storm Bay and up the Derwent to 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.
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 small group of 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.
Ever wondered what it would feel like to kayak in Antarctica? Watch the video below to find out. Wildlife may appear closer in the video than they are in real life.
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.
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.
Revel in the opportunity to tread some of Tasmania’s greatest coastal tracks while you circumnavigate this island state by sea. Land on remote pristine beaches; trek through coastal heath, buttongrass moorlands, lush temperate rainforests and tall eucalypt woodlands; and drink in the stunning vistas from towering dolerite peaks.
Mawson’s Antarctica can be combined with Tasmania Circumnavigation TAS271121G (15 days) starting 27th November 2021.
Want to book flights and accommodation with us or simply want some additional information? Click the button below and fill out the form, our expedition experts are more than happy to help.
*Terms & Conditions apply. Offer is only valid on new bookings and on select ship voyages only which must be booked and deposited by 30th June 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.
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