Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sorry we missed you Bounty Islands.......

This was Pyramid Rock, last semblance of land seen as we headed south and sailed away, heading to the Bounty Islands.

However..............somewhat sadly, after another day at sea and a huge swell overnight which slowed us down, the Bounty Islands were given a miss.  We were not due to land there as there is no safe anchorage or easy landing sites on the most remote of the sub-Antarctic islands. We would have circumvented the 22 granite islets and rocks by Zodiacs in hopes of viewing penguins and albatrosses..........and to recall the history of Captain William Bligh's discovery of them just months before the infamous mutiny in 1788!

Instead, we sailed on through the night to the Antipodes Islands...............

........the least visited of New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands.  Discovered in 1800 and first named 'Penantipodes' because of its situation near the antipodes of London, England (i.e. a line drawn directly through the earth from London comes out very close to the Antipodes islands).

The early morning arrival, with the islands right outside our windows, meant we were on the Zodiacs and heading for an amazing 2 hour expedition by 8:00 AM. There was no landing here.

Each fully loaded Zodiac appeared as a speck in the sea -  with just our trusty driver and expedition crew member. It took a little getting used to being at the mercy of the waves and all that heaving deep blue water.  Keeping Orion in sight was always comforting, when I couldn't see her I was a bit nervous at first, but soon got over it and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. 

I made a mental note that in all our days sea we never saw another ship. The feeling of being at the end of the world was not imaginary, it truly felt that way! 

1804 saw the first sealing gang (Americans!) arrived at the Antipodes. Over 60,000 seals were killed for their fur and oil over the course of the year while they were stationed on the islands. While this prime location was jealously guarded, the evidence they took home led to a sealing boom. By 1807 catches were much smaller and by 1830 the seals were all but wiped out and sealing came to an end in the Antipodes.  We did see some fur seals and elephant seals lounging on the rocks. 

The Erect-crested Penguin is a penguin from New Zealand which breeds only on the Bounty and Antipodes islands.

These penguins nest in large colonies on rocky terrain.  Current status is endangered due to population decline and a small breeding range restricted to the only two locations.
Population is estimated at just 154,000.

Antipodes Island waterfall

Paula, second from right, anxious to get great pics, and she did...............needless to say my pics are of her and she has plenty of me!

Heading back to our fabulous hotel at sea after an exhilarating time..........always a fair amount of exercise required getting back onto the ship!

Sailing away from the Antipodes at dusk. Next day, day seven, spent at sea, included the compulsory International Antarctic Tour Operators briefing on our responsibilities when visiting the sub-Antarctic region and the special care we needed to take to ensure this area will always remain one of the most pristine places on earth. Remember, only 500 tourists are permitted each year.  

A clothing quarantine was then required where we had to take all our outdoor expedition clothing and gear, quite a bulky pile, for inspection and vacuuming - yes, every pocket was vacuumed, all Velcro fasteners inspected for any seeds which might have been stuck on us, boots and shoes scrubbed etc.  We also had to step into a bio bath in our boots each time we returned to the ship.

Next stop, after a blustery night on the ocean waves......come visit Campbell Island, and a very in your face sea lion!


  1. Wonderful pictures wonderful narrative. You and Paula must have been in heaven - I love the look on her face! This trip had to be a life-altering experience - so much to see, such a remote and exotic area. Deeply envious up here, but truly enjoying the ride!

  2. I am in awe of the wildness of the place...those huge rocks of islands jutting out of the far away from anything! What am amazing journey!

  3. I'm reading your incredible posts slowly, one at a time! Never, could I imagine doing something like this ... and I'm a pretty intrepid gal!

  4. I'm overwhelmed at how pristine it is there, this had just made me so happy.....

  5. Your posts are wonderful, Mary. So incredibly fascinating. My heart breaks at the thought of all the seals that were slaughtered. Such a waste - all for what?

    The penguins are beautiful.


  6. I'm living your incredible journey vicariously Mary. Your narrative and photos are riviting, thank you for sharing it with us :o)
    Rose H

  7. Wonderful pictures, as always. Glad to hear about the quarantine and biobath precautions. Like the little door from the Zodiac into the ahip -- no ship's ladder up several stories?

  8. how exhilarating! Love seeing that seals face and the rocky islands surrounded by all that water. I can imagine it did feel isolating out there with only your ship.

  9. Mary, I'm back to join you on your grand adventure. I am so proud of your courage to undertake such fabulous travels at this time of your life.


  10. What an adventure, Mary! I so envy you but am a little hesitant to say that I could do the same! Keep the great posts coming!


  11. What an adventure and what memories you have stored away for a rainy day. I can't imagine the thrill of being there.


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