Voyage to one of the least visited coastlines in the world and discover for yourself why East Antarctica held such a fascination for pioneering Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson. Enjoy the pleasures of exploration and observation and experience the panoramic and the intimate; the majestic vista of the world’s largest glacier and a young Adelie Penguin taking its first ocean dip. The natural world beckons and rewards with rare whale sightings and abundant birdlife. East Antarctica opens to us further as we examine Mawson’s legacy.
A contemporary of legendary explorers Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton, Douglas Mawson was a passionate scientist, explorer and academic who spent his life devoted to exploring and studying Antarctica. Mawson’s 1911-1914 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) and joint 1929-1931 British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition (BANZARE) mapped and explored the coastal area of Antarctica closest to Australia, and in so doing defined Australia’s claim over the icy continent.
Our journey takes us from New Zealand via the ‘stepping stones’ of the rugged and wild Subantarctic Islands; The Snares, Auckland and Macquarie Islands breaking our long journey and introducing us to nesting seabirds, seals and rare flora – the islands’ rich biodiversity paving the way to our Antarctic experience. There will be opportunities for thrilling wildlife encounters from nesting albatross and rowdy penguin rookeries to lazing seals and sea lions.
Crossing the Antarctic Circle, where the sun stays above the horizon, we move closer to Mawson’s Antarctica. Pelagic birdlife wheels overhead on our journey south as we navigate astounding ice formations and marvel at Mertz Glacier’s ice tongue. The dynamic weather, sea and ice conditions remind us that as responsible travellers together, we must keep an open mind and make the most of opportunities as they arise.
Weather conditions will determine our final expedition explorations in East Antarctica; our aim is to gain first-hand insights into this remarkable destination. Highlights of our voyage in this region will include exploring and retracing history at Cape Denison, the location of Mawson’s Hut, where we plan to visit the far eastern sector of the Australian Antarctic Territory. Whilst visiting the hut is high on our wish list we are reminded that landings in this area are determined by the effects of Katabatic wind and ice. Mawson was very much one for science and knowledge, but realised the need to push the boundaries of endurance to achieve this goal, our experienced crew and expedition team will be monitoring conditions closely so we might achieve our goal, and follow in the footsteps of this legendary explorer.
We have planned our itinerary with a good number of days in Antarctic waters to maximize the time we have for landings, so there will be opportunities to explore on Zodiac cruises along the ice edge and among passing floes too. We should encounter Adelie Penguins swimming close by or resting on floes, and if we are lucky Emperor Penguins. Cetaceans on previous expeditions have included Fin, Minke, Blue and Humpback Whales; Orca also can be seen in this region. Birds we might encounter include Snow Petrels, Antarctic Petrels, Giant Petrels, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, Cape Petrels and Antarctic Fulmar, whilst Crabeater, Weddell and Leopard Seals may be resting along the ice edge. With long daylight hours and magnificent landscapes the photographic opportunities are endless in this land of snow and ice.
We also plan to visit the region Terre Adelie which has a coastline of roughly 300 kilometres and comprises the French sector where the French station Dumont D’Urville is located, and close by, Port Martin.
With more than twenty five years’ experience travelling to Antarctica with experienced sailors and knowledgeable guides aboard our fully equipped and ice-strengthened ship, we are well prepared to embark on this truly epic adventure with you.
Emperor, King, Gentoo, Snares, Adelie, Southern Rockhopper, Royal & Yellow-eyed Penguins; Wilson’s, Grey-backed & Black-bellied Storm Petrels; Wandering, Antipodean, Southern Royal, Northern Royal, Light-mantled, Black-browed, Campbell, Shy, Salvin’s, Grey-headed & Buller’s Albatrosses; Mottled, Cook’s, White-headed & White-chinned Petrels; Sooty Shearwater; Auckland Teal; Macquarie & Auckland Shags; South Island & Variable Oystercatchers; Subantarctic & Snares Snipes; White-fronted Tern; Red-crowned Parakeet; New Zealand Bellbird; Tomtit; New Zealand Fernbird; New Zealand Pipit.
New Zealand Sea Lion; New Zealand Fur, Southern Elephant, Weddell & Leopard Seals; Dusky Dolphin; Fin, Minke, Blue, Killer and Humpback Whales
coastal and pelagic waters, Antarctic Peninsula, pack ice
temperate to subzero, sunny and calm to gale force conditions can be expected
easy pace, mostly undemanding walks