Oh my, what a trip it was........so much to share with you from places few people adventure to in such a remote area of the planet.
Starting today I will take you along on the journey to the sub-Antarctic islands, hopefully giving you glimpses of what is almost impossible to detail in a few photos and words. A travel writer of renown would be necessary to describe the wonders of this region, all I can do is show and tell what I was privileged to experience.
Part of the welcome aboard snack in our suite - a bottle of champagne too! Just the beginning of 14 days of incredible food.
We embarked the Orion in Auckland, NZ (known in the Maori language as Tamaki Makau Rau - the city of 100 lovers). I must mention here I want to go back to see that beautiful country in depth some day. I've never heard a country described so favorably in every way possible by so many people. Even many Australians want to relocate to New Zealand.
Leaving New Zealand on the night tide. A good swell all night after we got into open water and have to admit I felt a bit queasy in the morning. A walk on the deck and a pill from Reception helped!
Later I tried using the motion sickness patch but found it gave me a painful sore throat so removed it after two days. Only one other queasy day when the sea was very rough, so back to the pills which worked well
First morning arrives and the mandatory lifeboat drill starts the day.
Paula at the drill. 71 passengers and 75 crew aboard, sturdy-looking lifeboats for everyone. Fortunately jumping into freezing waters and sending up a distress signal was never required!
Those trusty warm red parkas worn every time we boarded Zodiacs for cruising and island landings. We were given them to keep so mine is already earmarked for another cold weather trip scheduled in 2013!
Paula and our excellent Expedition Leader, Mick Fogg.
Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands.
Speaking of passengers, what a great group of interesting people. Mostly Aussies, some New Zealanders, a few Brits, Canadians and Americans, a couple of Germans. A varied age group including a best selling young Australian author - more about her later - a really nice former Brit now Aussie newspaper editor, two charming Aussie world-class divers with whom we shared many dining room tables. There was a mountaineer who has climbed the tallest peaks; his mother, a great grandma age 83 who clambered into Zodiacs like a teenager; a Utah based photographer who, armed with his 360 degree camera, is catching amazing images for an interactive world atlas which could change the way students learn about our beautiful planet; and a large group of bird watching enthusiasts (known as 'twitchers')who always helped us identify the many birds both in the sky, such as this huge Wandering Albatross with a wingspan up to 11 feet and capable of remaining in the air without beating its wings for several hours at a time....
..........and on land, the Cormorant.
Our expedition team was awesome. Some of the best in their fields of maritime biology and research, natural history, wildlife, ecology, conservation, seabirds and marine mammals. Their daily lectures on board were phenomenal and gave greater insight into the many landings we were able to make.
Next time, come join me on land in the Chatham Islands.......a wonderful place of approximately 600 inhabitants.
See you on board soon.