Waking before the break of dawn, expedition leader Lisle Gwynn made the call that our fearless travelers would Zodiac cruise around the Snares Islands at sunrise before the Southern Ocean winds picked up.

Sunrise in this part of the world usually means light penetrating through a dense cover of clouds. However, this morning we were gifted with the most beautiful sunrise most of us have ever seen. With giant rocky pinnacles rising out of the waves and millions of seabirds making their way out to sea, an orange glow set the backdrop for some beautiful images.

As we cruised around the Snares in Zodiacs, the sun was still low and pink hues filled the sky. We witnessed Buller’s albatrosses dynamically soaring through the sky, feeding on baitfish below the surface, and taking off with all their might as they ran across the waves. Albatrosses weren’t the only birds putting on a show. Thousands of Cape and diving petrels sat on the surface near giant patches of bull kelp, feeding and diving for food.

Many came to the Sub-Antarctic Islands to see penguins, and today didn’t disappoint. Endemic Snares crested penguins joined thousands of birds on the surface of the ocean, forming rafts before diving for fish. Passing these rafts of seabirds, we hoisted the Zodiacs back on board after what was one of the most memorable Zodiac rides for guests and staff alike.