Australia & New Zealand Sub Antarctic Islands – A Wildlife Paradise

Australia & New Zealand Sub Antarctic Islands: A Wildlife Paradise

Alex Burridge – Managing Director – Antarctica Travel Centre

Up until recently there were few choices with regards to itineraries or ships heading to the Australian and New Zealand Sub Antarctic Islands. Here we highlight just some of what you will find in these fascinating islands as well as the different ships offering a range of itineraries to discover this amazingly beautiful region, many of which start with a short flight over the ditch to Auckland or Christchurch.

Southern Royal Albatross, Campbell Island

Southern Royal Albatross, Campbell Island

Stewart Island & Ulva Island, New Zealand

Small groups of no more than 12 guests will be led by professional local guides to ensure a maximum experience of natural history. As Ulva has no invasive species, a walk through the forest will be a wonderful opportunity to see the endemic plants and birdlife that the island offers. The birds of Stewart Island include weka, kākā, the flightless Stewart Island kiwi, silvereyes, fantails, and kererū. The endangered yellow-eyed penguin has a significant number of breeding sites on the island.

Steward Island

Stewart Island

Kiwi Bird on Ulva Island

The flightless Stewart Island Kiwi on Ulva Island

Macquarie Island, Australia

In 2014, after a seven year long rabbit and rat eradication programme, Macquarie Island was officially declared pest free. In the last 6 years an incredible transformation has taken place with plants recolonising hillsides (that had been prone to landslips with one slip killing a number of king penguins) and many bird species returning to successfully breed at Macquarie Island for the first time in decades. As a result Macquarie has regained her title as Australia’s Sub-Antarctic jewel.

Macquarie Island is home to a large variety of wildlife, including subantarctic fur seals, Antarctic fur seals, New Zealand fur seals and southern elephant seals (over 80,000). Four species of penguin make Macquarie home: Royal penguins (approx. 850,000) king penguins (approx. 200,000), southern rock hopper penguins and gentoo penguins. Four species of albatross breed here; Wandering, Black-browed, Grey-headed and Light-mantled Sooty Albatross. Weather and tides will play heavily on the decisions made by the Captain and Expedition Leader to make the most of your days visiting the island.

Macquarie Island Royal Penguins and Southern Elephant Seals

Royal Penguins and Southern Elephant Seals in Macquarie Island

Campbell Island, New Zealand

Campbell Island is New Zealand’s southernmost sovereign territory some 700 kilometres southeast of South Island. It is also home to endemic bird species Campbell teal and Campbell snipe as well as southern rockhopper and yellow-eyed penguins, Antipodean, southern royal, light-mantled, black-browed, Campbell and grey-headed albatrosses, northern giant and white-chinned petrels, and the Campbell shag. Campbell is also home to the most rare and endangered sea lions in the world, the New Zealand (Hooker) sea lion.


Mount Honey, Campbell Island (Image Courtesy of Heritage Expeditions)

New Zealand Sea Lions

New Zealand Sea Lions

Enderby Island, New Zealand
Enderby Island is home to the rare Yellow-eyed Penguin, New Zealand Bellbirds and Red-crowned Parakeets, as well as Southern Royal Albatross that nest on the plateau.

Yellow Eyed Penguins Enderby Island

Yellow-Eyed Penguins, Enderby Island

Heritage Expedition Red Crowned Parakeet

Red-Crowned Parakeet (Image Courtesy of Heritage Expeditions)

The Snares, New Zealand
Unlike other Sub-Antarctic islands that were greatly affected by the whaling and sealing industry in the nineteenth century, The Snares remains one of the last near pristine areas in New Zealand. Depending on sea and weather conditions the plan will be to try find the rare and endemic Snares Crested Penguin.

Snares Crested Penguin

Snares Crested Penguin

Le Laperouse and Le Bellot

4.  Heritage Adventurer (140 Guests)
Formerly the MS Hanseatic the Heritage Adventurer operates out of New Zealand offering an excellent range of cruises to sub Antarctic Islands and the Ross Sea.
A comfortable ship with a high Ice rating, the Heritage Adventurer is an excellent option to discover the natural wonders of the region.


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