Today we found ourselves visiting what is undoubtedly the highlight of this expedition. Macquarie Island, a sliver of land halfway between Australia and Antarctica, is home to an abundance of wildlife with lots of elephant seals, skuas, and giant petrels, including the white morph. The island is also home to king, gentoo, and rockhopper penguins. Macca, as our Australian shipmates refer to it, resembles South Georgia at first. Macca has an added bonus, the endemic royal penguin. These penguins are characterized by a large, orange-colored bill, a white face, and a yellow and orange crest over a black head. Visiting Macquarie isn’t easy. Strong westerly winds can make landings quite challenging, but we lucked out in the weather department. We were able to make two landings and take a Zodiac ride with sunshine and blue skies.
National Geographic Orion
A cloudless morning broke over Hawkes Bay, New Zealand as National Geographic Orion motored into the town of Napier. After breakfast, we were alongside the dock and set out for the day’s adventures. The historic town was damaged in a significant earthquake during the 1930s and was rebuilt all at once in the current style of the time, Art Deco. It remains one of the largest concentrations of this architectural style in the world, and it gives the whole town the feeling that it is from a different era. Some guests ventured out to take in the buildings and history of the town, while others took a longer bus ride out to the southern point of the bay, named Cape Kidnappers by Captain Cook, to view the enormous colony of Australasian gannets. In the evening, we tossed off the lines and enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we turned our backs on the North Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and began sailing south.