First Sight of Land

By Alison Ballance

An expedition team is currently on the Antipodes Islands. It includes builders and scientists who will follow up on work done during the last expedition in August. Alison Ballance will be updating the blog from the Antipodes Islands.
Leeward Island (Photo by Kimberley Collins)

Leeward Island (Photo by Kimberley Collins)

Evohe dropped anchor on the eastern side of Antipodes Island, just south of Leeward Island, at 2.30 this morning. We left Dunedin harbour 53 hours earlier, and had a straight forward run down to the Antipodes with a tail wind and following seas. It was pretty windy when we arrived, but in the hours since the wind has dropped.

Everybody is up and about, and most travelled very well, although many of us reported sore backs from spending so long in bed!

We’re looking out at sheer cliffs covered in white bird guano, and on the main island a thick cover of the tussock Poa litorosa and prickly shield fern, the joys of which we’ll discover later (we’ve heard tales of how dense, impenetrable and difficult they are to travel through). The cloud was down almost to sea level, but has now risen so we can see the top of the cliffs. We can hear – and see – some rockhopper penguins, just beginning to nest in amongst the jumble

The Cliffs (Photo by James Ware)

The Cliffs (Photo by James Ware)

of big boulders lining the shore. There are light-mantled sooty albatrosses wheeling around the tops of the cliffs, making their haunting calls, and terns and pintado petrels busying themselves around the boat.

This afternoon we will poke our nose around the corner to see if there is any chance of getting ashore at the hut. If it is still too windy for that the plan is for three teams of penguin counters to get dropped along the coast here, in Ringdove Bay, the bay where we are anchored and Alert Bay. These colonies can only be accessed from the sea, so it’s a good opportunity to count the erect-crested and rockhopper penguins while we are here.

When the wind goes to the south we hope to get Denise and Brian ashore on Bollons Island, the large island off the north end of Antipodes. It’s a dodgy landing so we’ll need good conditions for that. In the meantime we’re enjoying the warmth and comfort of Evohe, and feeling pleased to be here.