Birding may not be the first thing that comes to mind when the Subantarctic Island cruise is mentioned. The American Birding Association wants to change this perception. Cruises are now offered to the islands in partnership with this organization. The Subantarctic Island cruise is done in the summer months and unlike other birding tours the groups are much bigger. Ships are able to handle around 50 guests per tour and this is in additional to ship staff, ABA representatives and birding tour guides. As with many other holiday tours, the Subantarctic Island cruise is inclusive of all factors from transport to accommodation and specifically in this case, a healthy dose of birding.
Guests are given a choice of the cabin class they would like to book into for the tour. All tours begin in Auckland and it is guest’s responsibility to get here on time. Before setting sail, guests will be introduced to the rest of the tour guests and the ship’s crew and get some safety drills. Ships then set sail from here for one of the most fascinating birding adventures on the planet. These New Zealand Islands, while very remote, offer much scope in terms of birding. In fact, as soon as the ship lands on the first island, there is opportunity to bird watch. Stewart Island is the first stop on the Subantarctic Island cruise.
The island offers a chance to bird watch all 5 families of birds endemic to New Zealand in one place. The islands are quite big and there is a bit of inland trekking required to get to the birding species. An entire day is spent on the island for sights of the New Zealand Wren, Stitchbird, Wattlebirds, parrots and Kiwis. Days on the Subantarctic Island cruise is spent entirely on excursions with returns back to the ship at night for some supper, social recap of the day and if it is a photography based tour, then guests will be able to print them out and scrutinize their work. Night time touring can also be expected on some days. There are many unique species of nocturnal birds which is why this is always a part of the Subantarctic Island cruise.
The Subantarctic Island cruise visits islands that are so exclusive that many have been declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites. This forms the basis for much conservation efforts. The ABA aims to be a huge part in keeping the islands untouched and protecting the many species which call it home. Members of the ABA tour with guests of the Subantarctic Island cruise. Esteemed members of the travellers include the president and the events coordinator of the organization. Having them come along for the cruise allows for a sense of not just birding tour guides but people who have spent their lives working towards the betterment of birding environments. Their aim on the Subantarctic Island cruise is to encourage guests to take up a bigger role in protecting these natural habitats of endemic birds to ensure their survival in the world.