Today, National Geographic Orion dropped her anchor in Gisborne – the very place where Captain Cook first touched land in New Zealand in 1769. Our guests enjoyed a Zodiac tour into town, passing the industrious harbor before cutting loose upon the land. Activities included a winery tour, walks amongst the flora, and some proper lessons in sheep shearing from local experts. Our dive team cut loose amidst the turbid water to discover some unique species of kelp and even the occasional plankton.
National Geographic Orion
Great Barrier Island sits forty-five miles northeast of Aukland, New Zealand. It is a massive island with a long and occasionally troubled history. Birds were the original caretakers of the island but were overthrown when Polynesians arrived around the year 1000. The disturbance to the island then was nothing compared to the near extinction event that followed the arrival of Europeans. Cleared of endemic trees and nearly all the native avifauna, the ecosystem of Great Barrier Island barely held on. More than a century later, the tide began to turn. Through the conservation efforts of mostly private individuals, the island is on its way to becoming a haven for indigenous flora and fauna. From the glorious native kauri tree, almost wiped out in the demand for timber, to the charming and iconic kiwi bird, positive change is taking place. Our visit today was a fantastic opportunity to explore a conservation success story in progress.