New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands

Auckland, New Zealand, to Dunedin, New Zealand aboard the Silver Discoverer

New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic Islands route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $13,150  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: Auckland, New Zealand
Depart: Dunedin, New Zealand
Lodging: 14 nights aboard 120-passenger expedition vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard
Activity: Small Ship Cruising, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level: 14-day cruise, nature walks, cultural explorations


  • Hike across the crater of an active volcano, visit the world’s largest mainland gannet colony, experience the best pelagic birding on the planet
  • Look for eight species of penguins including the rare yellow-eyed penguin
  • Walk through tall stands of rata trees, among giant ferns, and into the twisted world of elfin forests on Campbell Island

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Dramatic scenery and incredible wildlife vie for your attention in New Zealand's rarely visited sub-Antarctic Islands. On our journey through these spectacular icescapes—some of the most pristine our planet has to offer—you’ll explore all five island groups, each a fascinating world unto itself. The geographical isolation from the mainland and each other has shaped the remarkable biodiversity, and all are epicenters of evolution. Exciting nature walks and Zodiac tours reveal stunning and awe-inspiring wildlife—cruise within feet of a rare yellow-eyed penguin, admire a wandering albatross lifting his enormous wings to take flight, or witness the raw power of an 800-lb. bellowing sea lion bull staking out his territory. Your home away from home is the Silver Discoverer, the perfect platform for viewing New Zealand’s untamed landscapes.


Days 1-2, December 20 - 21, 2015
Auckland, New Zealand / White Island

Arrive in Auckland, embark on the Silver Discoverer, and cruise toward White Island, arriving on Day 2. After a Zodiac transfer, we don our safety equipment and set off on foot across the crater floor of New Zealand’s only active volcano. About 70% of the volcano remains under the sea, making this massive volcanic structure the largest in New Zealand. The spectacles are surreal: hissing fumaroles, lava bombs, glittering yellow sulfur crystals, bubbling mud pots, and a spectacular steaming lake. Our guide will explain the history and volcanic formations, and we will also visit an old sulfur-mining factory, abandoned because of a devastating explosion in 1914.

Day 3, December 22, 2015

Iconic Cape Kidnappers is home to the world’s largest mainland gannet colony. We’ll get up close to these amazing birds on a drive along the stunning coastline of Hawke’s Bay to the Cape, stopping within just a few yards of the colony to watch the entertaining antics of these huge birds. We’ll see gannets swooping and diving into the sea for food, while others preen themselves or perform the ritual dance of recognition. Enjoy the scenery and learn the history of the region on our way back to Napier. The country’s oldest winemaking region is renowned for its award-winning red wines, fresh produce, and artisan food producers. Napier is also known as the “Art Deco Capital of the World” and we’ll admire the world-class collection of architecture before returning to the ship.

Day 4 , December 23, 2015
At Sea

A leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Attend one of the day’s lectures and hear fascinating tales of adventure and learn more about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. Our knowledgeable guides are experts in a variety of scientific fields.

Day 5 , December 24, 2015
Chatham Island

Located 466 miles east of New Zealand’s South Island, these isolated islands are renowned for their peace and tranquillity. Relax on deserted beaches, explore moody landscapes, catch fish, hike through scenic reserves, and discover unique plant and bird life. The islands were first inhabited by the Moriori people, Polynesians with similar origins to the New Zealand Maori. European sealers and whalers were the next to arrive, followed by Maori from the New Zealand mainland. Today Chatham islanders share both Moriori and Maori ancestry and there are two Marae (centers for the community) on the main island.

Day 6 , December 25, 2015
Pitt Island, Chatham Islands

The second largest island in the Chatham Archipelago, Pitt Island is surprisingly different from Chatham Island. The indigenous Moriori called the island Rangiaotea, or Rangihaute; their archaeological remains are found almost everywhere here. Look for the Pitt Island shag, endemic to these islands.

New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Islands: The five islands in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic (the Snares, Bounty, Antipodes, Auckland, and Campbell Island) are home to a huge abundance and diversity of seabirds and marine mammals. UNESCO collectively designated them as a World Heritage Site, “The most diverse and extensive of all sub-Antarctic archipelagos.” Here you can find the most significant populations of many species, such as the southern royal albatross, yellow-eyed penguin, erect crested penguin, and the New Zealand sea lion. They also offer a bounty of volcanic and glaciated geography—including cave-riddled basalt cliffs, pristine sugar-sand beaches, wind-and-water-chiseled monolithic rock formations, and windswept grassy headlands.

Days 7-8, December 26 - 27, 2015
Bounty Island / Antipodes Islands, Sub-Antarctic Islands

In 1788, shortly before the famous mutiny on the Bounty, Captain William Bligh landed here and named the island group after his ship. This bare and windswept group of 22 slippery granite rocks is the most remote and least visited of New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands. Yet in spite of their hostile environment, the islands manage to host thousands of seabirds in summer, including the world’s most rare cormorant, the Bounty Island shag. The islands are also the strongholds for erect crested penguin, which breeds among the albatross. All Bounty Islands are designated “minimum-impact islands,” with no tourist landing; therefore a Zodiac cruise along the shoreline is on offer today

Day 9 , December 28, 2015
At Sea

A day at sea presents even more opportunities to see the pelagic diversity of this region. Grab your binoculars and spend some time out on deck, where you may glimpse a startling diversity of birds, from wandering and royal albatross to the auk-like diving petrel. Attend an ornithology lecture and learn more about the endemic birds of these islands.

Day 10 , December 29, 2015
Campbell Island, Sub-Antarctic Islands

Campbell Island, New Zealand’s southernmost sovereign territory, was farmed and used for sealing and whaling until 1954, when it became a reserve and World Heritage Site. With six breeding species of albatross and mollymawks, Campbell is outstanding among the world’s albatross islands, and supports the main population of southern royal albatrosses. Take a walk in rata forests and among lofty ferns, and see rockhopper penguins as well as the yellow-eyed penguin, probably the most rare penguin, as well as several species of shags including the world’s rarest cormorant.

Day 11 , December 30, 2015
Enderby Island and Auckland Island, Sub-Antarctic Islands

Enderby Island, perched on the Campbell Plateau, is composed of eroding volcanic remains, much like the main Auckland Island. Here we look for the yellow-eyed penguin, New Zealand bellbird, and red-crowned parakeet, as well as southern royal albatross that nest on the plateau. Auckland Island is the primary breeding ground for the world’s most rare and endangered sea lion, the New Zealand (Hooker), and it’s also the breeding ground for 30% of the world’s population of the yellow-eyed penguin.

Day 12, December 31, 2015
The Snares

Unlike other sub-Antarctic islands that were greatly affected by the whaling and sealing industry in the 19th century, the Snares remain one of the last near-pristine areas in New Zealand. The islands are home to endemic bird species such as the Snares crested penguin, the Snares Island snipe, the Snares fernbird, and the Snares black tomtit, as well as several endemic invertebrates.

Day 13 , January 1, 2016
Dusky Sound and Fiordland

While seals and dolphins are often sighted in the waters of Dusky Sound, we may be witness to the occasional visiting whale. However, keep your eye on land as well, as this is a prime breeding site for the Fiordland penguins.

Day 14 , January 2, 2016
Ulva Island and Stewart Island

Ulva Island delivers a wonderful natural history encounter, free of any invasive species. You’ll enjoy a spectacular walk while marveling at the endemic plants and birdlife. Our natural history walks today will go in search of endemic plants and birdlife in this world-renowned open bird sanctuary.

Day 15 , January 3, 2016

We arrive in Dunedin, disembark the Silver Discoverer, and fly home.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 1, Easiest, and is appropriate for anyone in good health who is physically active. Zodiac landing crafts are used to explore the coastline and transport passengers ashore for walks to wildlife sanctuaries, scenic nature areas, and local towns and villages.

Explanation of Trip Levels



Dec 20, 2015-Jan 3, 2016

*A number of similar itineraries are available in this region. Please call for more information.

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise Price
Explorer Suite $13,150
View Suite $14,650
Vista Suite $21,950
Veranda Suite $26,350
Medallion Suite $32,150

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 25% of trip cost
130 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $200 per person
91-120 days prior to departure: 15% of trip cost
46-90 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
31-45 days prior to departure: 75% of trip cost
30 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Deck Plan

Cabin Descriptions

All suites feature butler service, champagne on request, refrigerator and bar setup stocked with your preferences, European bath amenities, luxury Pratesi bed linen and down duvet covers, premium mattresses, iPod docking station, plush robe and slippers, umbrella, hairdryer, WiFi internet access (fees apply), flat-screen television with on-demand movies, music and satellite news programming and daily suite service with evening turndown.

Medallion Suite
Expertly designed and exquisitely appointed, the Medallion Suite is Silver Discoverer's most spacious, with overall size of 408 sq. ft. (including Veranda 27 sq. ft.). It's the ideal suite for entertaining friends or enjoying quiet time alone on your private veranda.

Veranda Suite
Stylish, sophisticated and welcoming, Veranda Suites are a favorite of returning guests. The private veranda surrounds you with panoramic views. Each suite has an overall size of 280 sq. ft. (including Veranda 35.5 sq. ft.), and several Veranda Suites can accommodate three guests.

Vista Suite
A quiet sanctuary, with enough living space to roam and relax. Two large view windows provide ocean views (partially obstructed). Each suite has an overall size of 269 sq. ft.

View Suite
The perfect backdrop for breakfast in bed. Even guests who plan to spend only sleeping hours in their suite will appreciate the distinctive touches of this cozy accommodation. Each suite has a view window and overall size of 181 sq. ft.

Explorer Suites
With preferred midship location and as spacious as a View Suite, enjoy the passing scenery through two porthole windows. Each suite has an overall size of 186 sq. ft.

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Suite accommodations aboard the Silver Discoverer
  • All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore, including house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard
  • Complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, and spirits)
  • Shore excursions as noted
  • Services of the expedition staff
  • Shipboard entertainment
  • Gratuities aboard ship (except spa)

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

Airfare, pre- and post-cruise hotel accommodations, luggage handling, arrival and departure transfers (unless purchasing airfare package), immigration fees, fuel surcharges, laundry or valet services, purchases from the ship boutiques or any item or service of a personal nature such as medical care, massages, spa treatments, hair styling, and manicures. Some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes, and cigars are not included in your fare and may not be available at all times.

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please call our office at 1-800-368-2794.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2015 Departures

Arrival & Meeting Place

Auckland, New Zealand
Silver Discoverer
Date: December 20, 2015 (Day 1)
Suggested arrival time: mid-day

Suggested Arrival Airport

Auckland International Airport (airport code AKL)

Passengers embark the Silver Discover in the late afternoon of December 20 (Day 1) of this program.  A pre-night stay at the Sky City Grand Hotel is recommended.

Dunedin, New Zealand
Date: January 3, 2016 (Day 15)

Suggested Departure Airport

Dunedin International Airport (airport code DUD)

Early morning disembarkation in Dunedin where you are free to transfer to your international flight home or continue travel in New Zealand on your own.

Expedition Details

A valid passport is required for this trip.  Be sure to check the expiration date.  Your passport must be valid for six months after the conclusion of your trip. It is a good idea to carry photocopies of your passport photo page in case your passport is lost or as an additional piece of identification, as well as two extra passport photos.

No visa is required for US Citizens traveling to New Zealand.

We recommend checking the Center for Disease Control at should you have any international health concerns.

No inoculations are currently required for entry into New Zealand.

Silver Discoverer

The small size and shallow draft of the 120-guest Silver Discoverer grants close-up access to rugged coasts well beyond the reach of ordinary vessels. A fleet of Zodiacs allows exploration from the water or remote landings. On board, guests are accommodated in ocean-view suites that feature an en suite bar. There is also butler service, along with panoramic lounges and an open bar and restaurant where fellow travelers gather to swap tales about their day’s adventures. Additional amenities include a pool deck, internet café, fitness center, and beauty and massage center. An expedition team of experts in the culture, history, and wildlife of the destinations present informal talks, guide Zodiac outings, and lead small-group explorations ashore.