The last destination on our trip was the Bounty Islands, a small collection of islets and rocks part way between the Antipodes and Chatham Islands. A few nights previous I had sat with one of the guides, Katja, at dinner and quizzed them about what to expect at upcoming islands. Katja said that on the previous trip the Bounty Islands were a highlight, teeming with wildlife at a much higher density to other locations on the voyage. However given their small size they offered minimal shelter, so our excursion there would be highly dependent on good weather conditions. She didn’t want us to get our hopes up in case we weren’t able to spend much (or any) time on the zodiacs, but it was too late for that.
After an overnight steam I headed up to the bridge before breakfast. It was the busiest I had seen it early in the morning, clearly all the other passengers were keen to see what we had in store. The description of a collection of rocks was accurate – there was no vegetation to be seen, and the highest rocks weren’t much higher than the Spirit. Despite the lack of real estate, the islands were swarming with albatross, penguins and fur seals. Most of the Salvin’s albatross population breed on the Bounty Islands, with 41,000 breeding pairs estimated to be there in a 2010 survey. They dominated the sky with few other seabirds in the air, while erect-crested penguins swam through the water in groups, ejecting onto various landing ramps or heading off to sea.