West Pacific Odyssey

New Zealand to Japan: seabirds, island endemics and cetaceans

At a Glance

FOCUS:

Bird & Wildlife Cruise:  birds, whales & dolphins and remote islands.

WHERE:

New Zealand – Norfolk Island – New Caledonia – Solomon Islands – Micronesia – Japan

SAMPLE WILDLIFE:

Numerous temperate and tropical Pacific seabirds including Short-tailed and Black-footed Albatrosses, Beck’s Petrel, Heinroth’s Shearwater, Polynesian, Matsudaira's, New Zealand and ‘New Caledonian’ Storm-Petrels, Bonin Petrel and Japanese Murrelet. Potential landbirds include Solomons Sea-Eagle, Kagu, Crow Honeyeater and many other island endemics.

20 + species of whales and dolphins are also possible.

Dates and Prices:

Dates: TBC

Leader: Chris Collins (TBC) and the rest of the ship’s expedition team

Prices: TBC

Travel to many of countries on the WPO is currently not advised by the UK government.  Hopefully travel will be possible in 2022 without too many restrictions and until there is greater clarity we do not recommend making bookings.


  • Polynesian Storm-petrel, Pacific Ocean
  • Polynesian Storm-petrel, Pacific Ocean
  • Tahiti Petrel, Pacific Ocean
  • New Zealand Storm-petrel, New Zealand
  • White-necked Petrel, Pacific Ocean
  • Sooty Tern, Pacific Ocean
  • Kermadec Petrel (dark phase), Pacific Ocean
  • 'New Caledonian Storm-petrel', New Caledonia
  • Kermadec Petrel (light phase), Pacific Ocean
  • Herald Petrel, Pacific Ocean
  • 'New Caledonian Storm-petrel', New Caledonia
  • Matsudaira's Storm-petrel, Pacific Ocean
  • Grey Ternlet/Grey Noddy, New Zealand
  • Ultramarine Kingfisher, Solomon Islands
  • Southern Shrikebill, New Caledonia
  • Streaked Fantail, New Caledonia
  • Red-knobbed Imperial Pigeon, Solomon Islands
  • Red-footed Booby (white phase), Pacific Ocean
  • Claret-breasted Fruit-dove, Solomon Islands
  • Barred Honeyeater, New Caledonia
  • Norfolk Gerygone, Norfolk Island
  • Solomons Sea-eagle, Solomon Islands
  • Kagu, New Caledonia
  • Norfolk Robin, Norfolk Island
  • Norfolk Island Parakeet, Norfolk Island
  • Slender-billed White-eye, Norfolk Island
  • Crow Honeyeater, New Caledonia
  • Black-naped Tern, Micronesia

Tour overview

Known to many people simply as the “WPO”, this incredible trip sails from New Zealand to Japan and over the course of a month offers an opportunity to see a truly mouth-watering selection of seabirds, island endemics and cetaceans.

The expedition starts by visiting New Zealand’s famed Hauraki Gulf where we hope to find the critically endangered New Zealand Storm-petrel, as well other species such as Black Petrel, White-faced Storm-petrel and some of the southern albatrosses.

Continuing northwards, we plan to land on Norfolk Island where there are excellent chances of finding all the extant endemics (Norfolk Island Parakeet, Norfolk Gerygone, Norfolk Robin and Slender-billed White-eye) before one of the major highlights of the entire trip, a visit to the Rivière Bleue Regional Park on New Caledonia. This is one of the best places on this 300 mile long island to look for the unique Kagu and we also hope to find a good percentage of New Caledonia’s other endemic birds including White-bellied Goshawk, Cloven-feathered Dove, New Caledonia Imperial Pigeon, New Caledonian Whistler and Crow Honeyeater.

As we sail on towards the Solomon Islands, one of our main seabird targets will be the ‘New Caledonian Storm-petrel’, a mysterious species which was first seen on the WPO in 2008. It now seems almost certain that this is a long-lost species which was collected many years ago and then written off as an aberrant individual, something it most definitely is not !!! 

Other seabirds we could find on this transit include specialities such as Polynesian Storm-petrel, Tahiti, Providence, Magnificent Petrel and Vanuatu Petrel, as well as more widespread species including Red-footed Booby and Red-tailed Tropicbird.

We then plan to have six days of landings in the Solomon Islands which should allow us to find upwards of thirty species which are endemic to the Solomons and nearby islands. These could include Solomons Sea-Eagle, Roviana Rail, White-headed Fruit-Dove, Chestnut-bellied Imperial-Pigeon, Ducorps’s Cockatoo, Yellow-bibbed Lory, Finsch’s Pygmy-Parrot, Buff-headed Coucal, Ultramarine Kingfisher, Solomon Islands Cuckoo-Shrike, White-winged Fantail, Kolombangara, White-collared and White-capped Monarchs, Solomon Islands White-eye, Midget and Mottled Flowerpeckers, Makira Honeyeater, Sooty, Red-capped and Cardinal Myzomelas and Brown-winged and San Cristobal Starlings.

Our next major targets are two very special seabirds, Beck’s Petrel and Heinroth’s Shearwater, which we will look for off Bougainville and New Ireland. These highly localised species are extremely poorly known with the breeding grounds yet to be located but we stand a good chance of seeing them both. The deep water off these islands is also excellent for cetaceans and on previous visits our sightings have included Pygmy Killer Whale, Melon-headed Whale, False Killer Whale, Spinner Dolphin, Rough-toothed Dolphin, Sperm Whale and both Pygmy and Dwarf Sperm Whales.

Crossing the Equator, our next landing will be in Micronesia on the island of Chuuk where once again our priority will be finding the endemics and regional specialities. We hope to find Caroline Islands Ground-Dove, Purple-crowned Fruit-Dove, Islands (Caroline Islands) Swiftlet, Oceanic Flycatcher, Micronesian Myzomela and Micronesian Starling. There may also be an opportunity to visit Tol South which is one of the few places in the world where the highly localised Truk Monarch can be found.

Heading north once again, the emphasis moves back to speciality seabirds and we will hope to find Short-tailed, Black-footed and Laysan Albatrosses, Matsudaira’s and Tristram’s Storm-petrels, plus the critically endangered Bryan’s Shearwater, over the course of the next week or so as the ship heads onwards towards Japan.

Our final landing will be on Hachijo-jima where we will look for a number of species which are endemic to the Izu Islands including Izu Thrush, Ijima’s Leaf-warbler and Owston’s Tit.  We will also hope to find Japanese Wood Pigeon, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Japanese (Izu) Robin, with the final speciality seabird of this incredible voyage hopefully being the tricky Japanese Murrelet.

Itinerary

Day 1: Tauranga, North Island, New Zealand. Sail late afternoon

Day 2: At sea, Hauraki Gulf

Days 3-4: At sea

Day 5: Norfolk Island

Day 6: At sea.

Day 7: New Caledonia

Day 8: AM New Caledonia, PM At sea

Days 9 -10: At sea

Day 11: Nendo, Solomon Islands

Day 12: Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

Day 13: Makira, Solomon Islands

Day 14: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Day 15: Tetepare, Solomon Islands

Day 16: Kolombangara, Solomon Islands

Day 17: At sea, off Bougainville

Day 18: At sea, off New Ireland

Days 19-20: At sea

Day 21-22: Weno & Tol South, Micronesia ("Truk Lagoon")

Days 23-26: At sea

Day 27: Chichi-Jima, Japan (no landing)

Day 28: At sea

Day 29: At sea, off Torishima, Japan

Day 30: Hachijo-jima, Japan

Day 31: Disembark vessel, Yokohama, Japan


NB: As applies to all expedition cruises, the exact itinerary will be subject to weather and local conditions. All landings are subject to government and local permissions.

Potential Seabirds (selected species only)

Antipodean, Gibson’s, Northern Royal, Campbell, White-capped, Pacific, Short-tailed, Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, Tahiti Petrel, Beck’s Petrel, ‘Fiji’-type Petrel, Grey-faced Petrel, Providence Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Herald Petrel, Magnificent Petrel, White-necked Petrel, Vanuatu Petrel, Cook’s Petrel, Gould’s Petrel, Bonin Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Pycroft’s Petrel, Fairy Prion, Bulwer’s Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Black Petrel, Streaked Shearwater, Flesh-footed Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Buller’s Shearwater, Short-tailed Shearwater, Heinroth’s Shearwater, Christmas Shearwater, Fluttering Shearwater, Little Shearwater, Micronesian and Bannerman’s Shearwaters, Bryan’s Shearwater, ‘New Caledonian’ Storm-Petrel, New Zealand Storm-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, White-bellied Storm-Petrel, White-faced Storm-Petrel, Polynesian Storm-Petrel, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Tristram’s Storm-Petrel, Matsudaira’s Storm-Petrel, Common Diving-Petrel, Red-tailed Tropicbird, White-tailed Tropicbird, Australasian Gannet, Tasman, Masked, Red-footed and Brown Boobies, Japanese Cormorant, Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, South Polar and Brown Skuas, Black-tailed Gull, Silver Gull, White-fronted Tern, Black-naped Tern, Grey-backed Tern, Bridled Tern, Sooty Tern, Fairy Tern, Great Crested Tern, Grey Ternlet, Brown and Black Noddies, White Tern, Ancient & Japanese Murrelets and Rhinoceros Auklet.

Potential ‘Island’ Birds (selected species only)

Pacific Baza, Solomons Sea-Eagle, White-bellied Goshawk, Roviana Rail, Kagu, Pacific Emerald Dove, Caroline Islands Ground-Dove, Purple-crowned, White-headed and Claret-breasted Fruit-Doves, Cloven-feathered Dove, Chestnut-bellied, Red-knobbed and Pacific Imperial-Pigeons, Ducorps’s Cockatoo, Cardinal Lory, Yellow-bibbed Lory, Finsch’s Pygmy-Parrot, Buff-headed Coucal, Moustached Treeswift, Ultramarine and Beach Kingfishers, Solomon Islands, North and South Melanesian Cuckoo-Shrikes, Caroline Reed Warbler, White-winged and Streaked Fantails, Kolombangara, White-collared, Chestnut-bellied and White-capped Monarchs, Oceanic Flycatcher, Norfolk and Yellow-bellied Robins, New Caledonian Whistler, Norfolk Island Gerygone, Green-backed, Solomon Islands and Caroline Islands White-eyes, Midget and Mottled Flowerpeckers, Makira and Crow Honeyeaters, Sooty, Red-capped, Cardinal and New Caledonian Myzomelas, New Caledonian Friarbird, Micronesian, Brown-winged and San Cristobal Starlings and Red-throated and Blue-faced Parrotfinches.

Potential Cetaceans (selected species only)

The following cetaceans have been seen on one or more of the previous expeditions: Bryde’s Whale, Sperm Whale, Blue Whale, Dwarf and Pygmy Sperm Whales, Gray’s, Cuvier’s, Longman’s, Hubb’s, Ginkgo-toothed, Deraniyagala’s and Blainville’s Beaked-Whales, Short-finned and Long-finned Pilot Whales, False Killer Whale, Pygmy Killer Whale, Melon-headed Whale, Striped, Pantropical Spotted, Eastern Spinner, Bottlenose, Risso’s, Short-beaked Common, Rough-toothed and Fraser’s Dolphins.