Sub-Antarctic Islands Trip

On December 15th I boarded the Heritage Expeditions boat, ‘Spirit of Enderby’ for a week-long trip to Campbell, Auckland and Snares Islands. I didn’t really know what to expect apart from wind, cold and that I’d probably be seasick. I was right on all three but what I didn’t anticipate was how amazing the islands were, which completely made up for any discomfort.
Due to unpleasant weather, we did our trip in reverse to the normal status quo and our first contact with land was Campbell Island, the southern-most of the three. It appears brown, windswept and barren yet supports a unique collection of flora and fauna. I’d guess our group of travellers were about 50:50 bird-watchers versus botanists, and I placed myself with the latter.
Our first day on solid ground was a slow meander along a narrow boardwalk, with plenty of hold-ups for someone (including me) on their hands and knees capturing the perfect plant portrait. I’ve no idea what the birder watchers were doing, their subject matter has a habit of flying off as soon as the camera comes out. Amongst the people I walked with it was the abundant Lichen that became a favourite subject. Being such a wet island – it has on average 235 wet days in a year – it’s a prime climate for lichens, moss and other moisture loving plants to thrive in. Everyone came back to the boat buzzing with the things they’d seen.

Lichen-8

The Auckland Islands were the same…”ooh look at the Lichen”….and the native orchids, Rata trees, Gentianellas, megaherbs…and that’s not even going near the wildlife. I was surprised at myself – normally plants have my sole attention, but seeing majestic Albatross or baby Sea Lions being born is pretty magic. Our last stop, The Snares are a landing-free zone, so we simply hung about in Zodiacs watching the Crested Penguins entering and exiting the water in a surprisingly ungainly manner.
I have great memories of my trip to the Sub-Antarctic Islands, it was definitely an adventure; great scenery, wonderful staff and fellow passengers and even quite good weather. Yet out of all that, it was the Lichen that took my fancy to use as inspiration from my trip and I plan on creating a series of pottery vessels in the spirit of Enderby.

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