Rich Pagen is a biologist who has worked on surveys for nearly everything; from mammalian carnivores in the mountains of California, to bird migration monitoring in Canada, and even a study of army-ant-following birds in the Peruvian Amazon. Rich loves the sea, and has also conducted shipboard surveys for marine mammals and seabirds, as well as tagging studies of sea turtles and pelagic sharks.
In early 2017, Zegrahm Expeditions is embarking on a remarkable journey, exploring the Sub-Antarctic Islands of New Zealand. We’ll begin on the South Island, with time to explore Queenstown and Fiordland National Park, before continuing onward to the remote sub-Antarctic islands to the southwest.
Naturalists of all stripes will be thrilled about our stop at predator-free Stewart Island, just off the southern coast of the South Island. Largely untouched by humans, this is the perfect habitat for native and endangered birds; it is estimated that there are 20,000 Stewart Island brown kiwis active on the island, outnumbering humans by 50 to 1!
On Campbell Island, we will wander past impressive Hooker's sea lions en route to the island's grassy interior, where southern royal albatross nest, some remarkably close to the trail. While the scene on Macquarie is unrecognizable to that of Campbell—elephant seals and king penguins are reminiscent of South Georgia in the south Atlantic, but the scores of very distinct royal penguins hint at the fact that we are in an entirely different place altogether.
The biggest draw for me is how each of the sub-Antarctic islands has its own flavor, its own topography, its own distinct wildlife community. Beyond the above, I can’t wait to cruise among the stunning fjords of the South Island, scanning the water for endemic Fiordland crested penguins; observe the South Island robin and saddleback on Ulva Island; and search elfin forests for melodious bellbirds and colorful red-crowned parakeets. Won’t you join me?