After two days at sea, National Geographic Orion finally arrived at Norfolk Island. We woke up to sunshine, blue skies, and views of pine trees. Yes, Norfolk Island pines were visible outside our cabin windows! After we made it to shore, we split into two groups. Some guests took a bus tour of the island that included a historical visit to the old penal colony where the most dangerous criminals served time in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The penal colony shut its doors for good in 1853.

The rest of us walked from the dock to the Norfolk Island National Park to look for the four bird species endemic to this island. We walked along a road towards the coast, where we found a marshy area that feeds a small waterfall. We did a little off-roading and climbed up a ravine to get to the top road. We meandered along the road and found the Norfolk Island gerygone. The bird was flitting around and very cooperative! Then we spotted the slender-billed white-eye. The national park was beautiful and covered in large tree ferns. We saw the Norfolk Island robin, and the pièce de résistance was a Norfolk Island parakeet in a Norfolk Island pine. We got a grand slam! What a time to be alive.

The afternoon offered another adventure. We took a scenic bus tour around the island and had amazing views of the beaches. A highlight was stopping at Hundred Acre Nature Reserve, another beautiful forest covered in shearwater burrows (also known as muttonbirds). Norfolk Island is a truly rugged and beautiful destination, and it is worth the effort to visit. Our journey continues towards New Zealand.