Best time to visit the Subantarctic Islands

The austral summer from Nov-March brings long daylight hours, beautiful light for photos and are much warmer than you might imagine.
The Subantarctic Islands are some of the worlds most remote areas of land, so it should come as no surprise that theyre not accessible year round. The expedition season is short and the austral summer November to March is not only the best time, it is the only time to visit; outside of these months the temperature gets bitingly cold and the area inaccessible. During this time, days are long and bright, the temperature hovers around a comfortable 5oC, and the islands spring to life with seal pups being born, penguin chicks hatching and small seabirds taking flight for the first time.

Subantarctic islands Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
17
20
53
FEB
16
20
60
MAR
13
17
74
APR
11
15
75
MAY
9
13
90
JUN
7
12
96
JUL
6
11
90
AUG
6
10
81
SEP
6
11
72
OCT
9
13
56
NOV
12
16
54
DEC
15
18
56

Is a Subantarctic Islands cruise for you?

Go to the Subantarctic Islands if

You have a passion for wildlife. Regardless of the stunning scenery, a trip to the Subantarctic Islands is all about the phenomenal wildlife. Its quite magical how anything can live in such extreme climatic conditions, so to see penguins and petrels positively thriving alongside sea lions, seals and albatrosses that soar across the bright, clear sky is a magnificent sight to behold. Youre happy to get your geek on. Though lecture isnt the first word you may associate with an exciting, seafaring adventure, take our word for it: lectures about the wonder of the Subantarctic Islands are neither boring nor stuffy. Onboard, and sometimes on land too, you will be treated to talks from all manner of experts from geologists to historians and scientists who are keen to share their knowledge of the land and creatures around you. Youll learn to identify species, and a little insight means you will be even more amazed by the world passing you by on deck. Youre brave enough to leave your bigger boat. The unusual presence and extraordinary landscape of each individual Subantarctic Island are best explored by venturing out in a zippy zodiac boat. Theyre much smaller than your mighty expedition vessel, of course, and how far flung you explore will be dictated by the weather and the ocean, but this only makes the experience more thrilling. Subantarctic itineraries encourage as many zodiac trips as timing and conditions allow, getting you up close to seals and penguins and permitting you to step into their extraordinary world.

Dont go on a Subantarctic Islands vacation if

You prefer your own company. After a day spent capturing real wow factor photographs under crisp skies and encountering wildlife that you never dreamt youd see in the flesh, theres only one thing left to do: share your excitement and swap stories with your fellow passengers. If you strongly disagree with this statement, then its unlikely a trip to the Subantarctic Islands is your bag. Its a sociable vacation from grabbing a drink in the lounge and quietly recounting your experiences, to joining a lively group dinner. A vacation like this rarely happens twice in a lifetime, so you already know youll be traveling with people as enthusiastic as you are. Socialising isnt thrust upon you and there are ample opportunities for quiet time and reflection, but overall, youll be much better suited if youre a sharing sort. Youve booked for the polar bears. Sorry your compass is out of whack; polar bears make their homes way up north in the Arctic. You want to cuddle a baby seal. Although they are exceptionally sweet, nobody should ever hug a pup. A safe distance should be kept from all wildlife, including seals, penguins and seabirds. However, the animals themselves are not aware of this, and neither are they wary of humans, so if you position yourself quietly, they may well approach you, which is absolutely fine. However, you must never touch, feed or obstruct them, or use flash photography. Noise should be kept to a minimum too, so if a penguin does approach you for a chat try and keep your excited squeals to giggling volume.

Our top Subantarctic islands Vacation

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
Small group travel:
2020: 3 Jan, 23 Dec
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Subantarctic islands or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Subantarctic Islands wildlife tips

On the Reischeks parakeet

On the Reischeks parakeet

Cassia Jackson, from our supplier, Heritage Expeditions, shares some interesting Subantarctic Islands wildlife facts:

The Reischeks parakeet is a small green parrot confined to Antipodes Island. The common name commemorates pioneering naturalist and collector Andreas Reischek, who collected specimens in 1888. It feeds on tussock flowers, leaves, seeds, berries and invertebrates such as fly larvaein penguin guano and it also scavenges the carcasses of petrels and albatross. Though the population of Reischeks parakeet is healthy, its limited distribution makes it potentially vulnerable to events such as the accidental introduction of rodents to its island home and it is listed as range restricted in the New Zealand Threatened Species classification.
On the abundance of fauna & flora

On the abundance of fauna & flora

"When you compare the total number of indigenous plants and the number of seabirds found across all six Subantarctic Islands with similar groups of islands in the Southern Ocean, for example the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic, there is significantly more species on the Subantarctic Islands. Simply put, the islands of the South Pacific are tiny oceanic havens for an abundance of wildlife, the likes of which is seen in very few other places around the world.
On the New Zealand sea lion

On the New Zealand sea lion

New Zealand (Hookers) sea lions are the rarest and currently the most endangered of the five species of sea lion in the world. They have a very limited distribution and range, and can be found breeding at only a handful of sites in the Auckland Island group. They also breed in small numbers on Campbell Island and Stewart Island, but 95 percent of pup production occurs on the Auckland Islands. Mature males are blackish in colour with well-developed black manes reaching to the shoulders. Females are lighter, varying from buff to creamy grey with darker pigmentation around the muzzle and flippers. Pups of both sexes are chocolate brown with paler areas around the head.
Written by Polly Humphris
Photo credits: [Page banner: ] [Temp chart: ] [Things to do: ] [Flora: ] [Parakeet: ] [Sea lions: ]
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