Antipodes Subantarctic Islands
travel guide


Possibly the worlds best kept secret, the Subantarctic Islands may have a very low profile, but are among the most remarkable wildlife reserves worldwide. Lying south and east of New Zealand, in the Southern Ocean a notoriously tumultuous mistress that encircles Antarctica every one of these clusters of islands is a UNESCO site, which places them in a very special group of only 180 natural sites deemed the most important and significant natural habitats on the planet.

Treasured for their priceless value as wild and truly beautiful places, you can dispel any preconceptions of bleak, frozen landscapes. Besides the fascinating wildlife that thrives in their isolated conditions chattering penguins in their millions, sea lions, elephant seals and seabird breeding colonies the islands are surprisingly lush and particularly noted for their abundance of flowering megaherbs- huge green clumps up to 90cm, tall sprouting rhubarb-esque leaves and massive, lime green flower clusters.

Read more about these incredible habitats in our Subantarctic Islands travel guide.

Subantarctic Islands highlights


The Antipodes Subantarctic Islands are small, unique formations nestled in a huge expanse of wild Southern Ocean. The only knowledge youll have of routes, maps and itineraries is where youre headed next and (vaguely) when; this part of the world plays to its own rules and youll sail between each archipelago to no other timetable than Natures own. Your captain and tour leader have an exceptional knowledge of the routes available and will ensure you reach as many fascinating places as possible as long as youre safe while doing so and youll be hopping on and off the boat wherever you can.
Antipodes Islands Auckland Islands Bounty Islands Campbell Island Macquarie Island Snares Islands

Antipodes Islands

The Antipodes Islands are famed for their spectacular and inaccessible cliffs that encircle the main island peaking at a towering 1,200ft tall. Home to many indigenous bird species, the island group lays claim to two-thirds of the worlds erect-crested penguin population, as well as their enemy the northern giant petrel which attack the penguins and forage the eggs and chicks of other seabirds.

Auckland Islands

Home to a massively diverse variety of species, the Auckland Islands are a national nature reserve and are renowned for their raw beauty. There are several islands in the Auckland group and their landscape, characterised by looming precipitous cliffs and huge sea caves, provides excellent breeding grounds for New Zealand sea lions, southern right whales and yellow-eyed penguins.

Bounty Islands

The bleakest and most desolate of New Zealands outlying islands, the Bounty Islands arent known for their flora, but they are home to one of the worlds only two colonies of erect-crested penguins; the worlds principal colony of Salvins albatross; and, the very rare bounty shag, a black and white cormorant that nests on anxiety-inducing narrow cliff ledges and of which only hundreds remain.

Campbell Island

Shaped like a dragon in flight, Campbell Island is the most southerly of the Subantarctic six and is high and rugged, broken by narrow, sheltered inlets. Made up of grassland, shrubland and bright megaherb fields, it also has a sub-alpine dwarf forest and is home to the Campbell Island teal, a small, flightless and nocturnal species of dabbling duck. Hard to believe its on this planet!

Macquarie Island

Lying southwest of NZs Subantarctic Islands, almost halfway to Antarctica, Australian-owned Macquarie Island is often the furthest-flung port of call on Subantarctic cruises. Dubbed one of the wonder spots of the world, it is a long, narrow formation with lush landscape sprouting lime green megaherbs in huge clusters. Its the only home of the magnificent royal penguin, of which theres reckoned to be 3 million!

Snares Islands

Influenced by a warm current, which fixes the temperature at around a mild 11oC, the Snares are an island group bordered by steep cliffs and covered in deep, dry peat soil that supports vast, colourful herb fields. Cruising the rugged coastline in a zodiac, youll learn how the islands got their name, spotting Snares crested penguins, cape petrel and Bullers albatross nesting in the cliffs as you go.
Photo credits: [Nightingale Island: Brian Gratwicke] [Snares Islands: lin padgham] [Bounty Islands: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner] [Antipodes Islands: Roderick Eime] [Auckland Islands: Roderick Eime] [Campbell Island: twiddleblat] [Macquarie Island: lin padgham]
Written by Polly Humphris
New Zealands Subantarctic Islands cruise, including Macquarie

New Zealands Subantarctic Islands cruise, including Macquarie

Wildlife voyage to the Subantarctic inc Macquarie Island

From US $7000 13 Days ex flights
Wildlife Cruise of New Zealand Subantarctic Islands

Wildlife Cruise of New Zealand Subantarctic Islands

New Zealand's wildlife rich & remote Subantarctic wilderness

From US $4600 8 Days ex flights
Antarctica and New Zealand Subantarctic Islands Wildlife Cruise

Antarctica and New Zealand Subantarctic Islands Wildlife Cruise

Travel from New Zealand on the ultimate Antarctic voyage.

From US $23000 4 Weeks ex flights
New Zealand and islands bird watching cruise

New Zealand and islands bird watching cruise

Ultimate wildlife expedition to the Subantarctic Islands

From US $11250 19 Days ex flights
Antarctica cruise from Australia

Antarctica cruise from Australia

28 Day Expedition to East Antarctic Region

From US $19900 26 Days ex flights
Photo credits: [Page banner: ]