So on Wednesday afternoon we set sail from Bluff, 25km south of Invercargill bound for the Antarctic. Soon after leaving Bluff we passed along the coastline of Stewart Island and saw where the shark diving operations occur. The passage between Stewart Island and the South Island of New Zealand is a breeding ground for Great White Sharks and three years ago cage diving operations for tourists started operating from Bluff. Unfortunately for me there was no time to go on one of these before the ship sailed because I would love to go.
Thursday was spent at sea journeying south towards Campbell Island. Onboard all the important briefings for visiting Antarctica were held as well as cleaning our equipment and issuing boots. The seas were reasonably calm and there were many albatrosses and petrels flying around the ship.
Also during that day we learnt that one of our passengers Lewis Pugh who coincidently has family in Erwood (near my home in Wales), was onboard intending to do five 1km swims in Antarctica to raise awareness of plans to create an marine protected reserve in the Ross Sea region. I wish him all the best with his upcoming attempts.
On Friday we arrived at Campbell Island. This is the most southerly island in New Zealand and is uninhabited. In the past there were cattle and sheep raised here and also scientific studies, but now there is only nature. The island itself is the eroded remains of a Miocene volcano that sits on continental crust that is part of the mostly submerged New Zealandia micro continent. There is Palaeozoic basement overlain by Cretaceous and Tertiary sediments on top of which sit the remains of the volcano.
The island is also a paradise for wildlife with breeding Southern Royal Albatross, Campbell Mollymawk albatross and Light Mantle Sooty Albatross. There are also yellow eyed penguins, New Zealand Sealions, Elephant Seals and Great White Sharks. The weather was amazing, a very rare warm and sunny day. In the morning we all climbed to the top of the island to see the breeding albatross and impressive views and in the afternoon went zodiac cruising along the coastline in search of wildlife.