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Auckland Islands

The southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) was hunted extensively along the coasts of New Zealand from the beginning of the 19th Century onward, with peak whaling from shore stations in the late 1840’s.  Before the end of the 19th century the NZ population of southern right whales was commercially extinct. Although protected from hunting by international agreement since 1935, right whales in the southern hemisphere were hunted illegally by the former Soviet Union from 1950 to 1970.    In 1979 there were reports of small numbers of southern right whales congregating in the winter months in the sheltered waters of the sub Antarctic Auckland Islands. They were also recorded by metrological staff during this time around sub Antarctic Campbell Island.    Since 1995 there have been a number of winter expeditions to these islands as well as aerial counts/observations. The number of animals present each year is increasing and current estimates suggest that over 200 animals are visiting the Port Ross region in July/August each year. This makes it an extremely important wintering ground for both cows and calves as well as a mating ground.    I have visited the Auckland Islands many many times, but always in the summer months. I had never had the opportunity to visit during the winter because a) we (Heritage Expeditions) never had a ship available at this time of the year (ours were working in the northern hemisphere) and b) the Islands are closed for tourism during the winter months. To see and experience these southern right whales was high on my bucket list, so when the opportunity came to support an International documentary film crew and Auckland University researchers I didn’t hesitate and I wasn’t disappointed    Pictures say a thousand words .. I hope the following photos give some idea of the beauty and privilege of our expedition ….    

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Stewart Island

Between March 20th and May 3rd this year Strannik was based in Stewart Island. During that time, we offered three, nine-day expeditions; the balance of the time spent with friends and family. It was great to be back doing what we love, sharing the wilderness and advocating for its protection and conservation. We are staunch believers in allowing people the opportunity to experience wilderness areas in an unhurried way, in small groups without too many rules and regulations. Strannik proved herself the perfect vessel; with just eight participants on each expedition the opportunities were unlimited. While the weather wasn’t always the best, our very flexible programme (we don’t publish an itinerary) paid dividends and all the expeditions achieved their objectives and goals. The high lights obviously varied from group to group but included; a hike to the top of Tin Range, another to Gog and Magog (and even back to Evening Cove for one ambitious group), a walk to the Settlement in Broad Bay, a climb to the summit of Bald Cone, Zodiac boat explorations of both Lords and Heron rivers and Port Adventure. Time was also spent ashore on Ulva Island. We plan to repeat these expeditions in late Feb and March 2022 (hoping these earlier dates might mean better weather). It is not too early to pre-book now by sending us email info@strannikoceanvoyages.com because these expeditions will fill fast. Images by @julie_chandelier @scottysinton

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Christmas

Christmas aboard MV Strannik was very much a family affair. Since last writing we sailed across Tasman Bay to Pelorus Sound. Aaron and Nathan along with their families (Sarah, Anneliese, Francesia& Robyn,Findlay and Hudson) arrived in Havelock on Christmas Eve and we spent an enjoyable week together exploring the Sound. We initially based ourselves in Ngawhakawhiti Bay and enjoyed catching up with friends in Elaine Bay as well as steaming out to the Chetwode Islands to teach the next generation how and where to fish for Blue Cod. The keener ones completed the Nydia Bay track (over a couple days) and enjoyed the scenery and the history, not to mention the opportunity to walk off the excessive Christmas food. We are now in Queen Charlotte Sound. It was great to check out Motuara Island yesterday, it has been a while since I had landed there, just a pity the weather wasn’t better. We are expecting friends tomorrow and will spend a few days with them and then head to Lyttelton, where we will make plans for the remainder of the year. We hope to announce some Stewart Island and Fiordland Expeditions!  

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Abel Tasman National Park

Greetings from MV Strannik and the team. After 4 weeks tied up in the Nelson Marina we finally sailed. It is so good to be back at sea. Our time in Nelson was great, catching up on family and friends, tramping and, during the week, attending the Skipper Training Institute to upgrade my Skippers ticket. This new ticket will allow me to use Strannik commercially in NZ. We may well offer some NZ expeditions next year. We are writing from the Astrolabe Roadstead in the Abel Tasman National Park. We have spent the last few days exploring the Park. Have enjoyed some great walks and boating, it’s a great time to be here a) the weather is settled and b) there are not a lot of people around. On January 14th 1827 Jules Dumont D’Urville anchored his vessel Astrolabe here and filled his water casks from a creek in nearby Watering Cove. His men also watched the transit of Venus from neighbouring Observation Cove. It is great to look at Louis de Sainson painting of Watering Cove and imagine what it would have been like nearly 200 years ago, the bird song must have been incredible. On that note, we just want to wish all our friends a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year and look forward to sharing our 2021 adventures with you.

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Nelson

Life aboard Strannik continues to be an adventure. We are currently in Nelson, tied up in the Marina. I am at School studying for an Australian Skippers ticket. Maritime NZ doesn’t like my British Royal Yacht Squadron Commercial Ticket and if we are going to offer some cruises in New Zealand while we are confined here because of Covid-19, then I need this ticket. Maritime NZ also don’t like our Italian (RINA) certification so we are having to resurvey the vessel. But we aren’t complaining because there is nowhere else I would rather be under the circumstances and we are very conscious that there are people who are a lot worse off than we are. We just count our blessings every day and there isn’t a calculator big enough. No school over the weekend so we went tramping in the Kahurangi National Park yesterday and Nelson Lakes National Parks today. It is simply wonderful to get back into the mountains that I grew up in.

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