Campbell Island: Off Shore & Off The Beaten Path New Zealand.
*I have a business relationship with Oceanwide Expeditions and traveled onboard the M/V Ortelius sailing South from New Zealand to visit Campbell Island on the way down to the Ross Sea as an independent press & media representative. All opinions are my own.
When people think of New Zealand they typically think of the two big players in the game: The North Island and the South Island. But did you know New Zealand encompasses more islands than just its two superstars?
New Zealand includes a number of other islands and island groups, actually over 600! Here I’ll name a few of its Subantarctic Islands:
Campbell Island (Motu Ihupuku)
Auckland Islands (Motu Maha)
The Snares (Tini Heke)
All of these island groups lie south of New Zealand in the Southern Ocean between the Antarctic and the Subtropical Convergence.
Want a 2 minute tour of Campbell Island? Check out this video by Kyle Sullivan. I met Kyle on my trip to Antarctica, in fact, he actually won the contest put on by Oceanwide Expeditions. Plus, he makes pretty awesome videos.
The Campbell Islands are New Zealand’s southernmost subantarctic island group. The group is comprised of the main and largest Campbell Island, with Dent and Jacquemart being the next largest. Other islands include: Isle de Jeanette Marie, Gomez Island, Folley Island, Hook Keys, Wasp Island, Monowai Island, and Survey Island.
The island group’s size comes in at 11,331 hectares located 700 kms south of New Zealand’s South Island at 52º 33’S. The islands were discovered by Europeans on 4 January 1810 by Captain Frederick Hasselburgh on the Perseverance and was reserved in 1954.
The island group is known for its flora and fauna, much of which is endemic to Campbell Island and other Subantarctic Islands, with some species only found in the Campbell Island group and nowhere else on Earth.
Sheep (for farming) and rats (on accident) were introduced to the Campbell Islands long ago but have since been eradicated due to extensive efforts by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. Since the eradication it has allowed the native flora and fauna to bounce back.
Helicopter or chartered vessel.
Most visitors come via expedition cruise ship from Invercargill/Bluff or Christchurch. I visited Campbell Island in February 2017 on the M/V Ortelius with Oceanwide Expeditions.
Cloudy, windy, wet and cold. 75% of the year expect around 63 kph gusts in a day. 300 days give or take per year you can expect precipitation to fall in the form of rain or snow.
What to see:
The unique flora and fauna of course.
The Campbell Islands are home to unusual plants, including its famous megaherbs. Many of the grasses and megaherbs are endemic to The Campbell Islands or at least to New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands.
The Campbell Islands are albatross central: Six different types of Albatross breed on Campbell Island, one of which (the Campbell Island Mollyhawk) breeds no where else. The other species who breed on the islands include the Light Mantled Sooty Albatross, the Southern Royal Albatross, the Antipodean Albatross, the Grey-Headed Mollyhawk and the Black-Browed Mollyhawk.
Other seabirds who breed here include the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguin and the Eastern Rockhopper Penguin.
Other birds to be spotted on the Campbell Islands include the New Zealand Antarctic Tern, Northern Giant Petrel, Sooty Shearwater, White Chinned Petrel, Subantarctic Diving Petrel, Grey-Backed Storm Petrel, Subantarctic Skua, and the endemic Campbell Island Shag.
Land birds also call the Campbell Islands home. These include the Campbell Island Teal, the Campbell Island Snipe and the New Zealand Pipit.
Mammals: The Northwest Bay of Campbell Island is the best place to spot New Zealand Sea Lions and Southern Elephant Seals. New Zealand Fur Seals can be spotted around the islands as well. For whales Northwest Bay in the winter will be your best bet to spot the Southern Right Whale. However you’d be more likely to see them in the Auckland Islands (another New Zealand Subantarctic Island group).
The Basalt Columns of Perseverance Harbor are a unique geological sight to see on Campbell Island.