The raw and wild power of the remote Auckland Islands


The more and more I travel the world, the more I’ve come to realize how much I value and adore going off the grid, voyaging to far shores few have been to and seeing places that barely exist on social media, if not at all.

Trust me; there are still so many spots out there.

These wild places beckon to me, they call to my soul, and they are the spots that fill my heart with pure joy, a joy I can’t even share because there definitely isn’t wifi around.

Does that sound like somewhere right up your alley? Or do you prefer to read about it from the comforts of home? No shaming whatsoever. As an ambitious adventurer full of fear, I devour plenty of stories that I would never in a million years attempt on my own. I get it.

Who doesn’t love a good story?

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

Last year over the Christmas holidays, which is summertime down in New Zealand where I live, I had the incredible opportunity to journey to the bottom of the world with Heritage Expeditions, back to the subantarctic, but this time on the Pacific side of the map – instead of from South America.

A Christchurch-based expedition company, Heritage Expeditions, and I go way back. These guys are badass. Pioneers in conservation tourism, they have been leading the charge over the past decade in responsibly sharing our precious places, encouraging us to be guardians of the natural world.

And I can safely say, there is nowhere better to see this than in the New Zealand subantarctic.

An introduction to New Zealand’s subantarctic islands


If you were to head south from the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island – past Stewart Island, many probably know that you’ll eventually end up in Antarctica.

But before landing on the icy white continent – you’ll first encounter a series of rugged, windswept, uninhabited desolate islands home to a lot of birds. Including the Auckland Islands travel here will blow your mind.

Many might find that description unappealing, but I can tell you, THEY ARE SO AMAZING! Wild weather? Rugged and remote? No people? All the birds?

Does it get any better than that? Don’t think so.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

A few years ago, I traveled to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, which are subantarctic islands on the South American side, and I felt with the profound and somewhat surprising revelation that I think I like the subantarctic islands better.

Why? Because for me, I enjoyed the wildlife there more. And it’s less white, less icy. I prefer the colors you see there, and it’s a place few ever visit.

Along with the Snares, Campbell Island, and Macquarie Island (Australian managed), on my trip south last year with Heritage Expeditions, we also visited the Auckland Islands – our trip was the Galapagos of the Subantarctic.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

The Auckland Islands are roughly 465 kilometers due south of Bluff, where the ship departs from.

They are the largest of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, with a combined area of 57,000 hectares or 220 square miles, according to Google – but don’t quote me on that. I have little to no comprehension of size and scale whatsoever.

The Auckland Islands are big but not that big, none of the subantarctic islands are enormous. I imagine this is because they are constantly battered by gale-force winds which have whittled them down – but that’s pure conjecture on my part.

Moving on!

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

The big-but-not-too-big Auckland Islands are home to a massive variety of plants and wildlife, as well as having a rich human history that failed spectacularly many times.

Leave it to the birds.

What’s cool is that the Auckland Islands is considered to be the furthest south wayfaring Polynesians traveled to, with evidence of ovens and middens on Enderby Island from the 13th to 14th centuries before disappearing.

In about 1842, a settlement of Māori and Mōriori tried to establish themselves here too.


You only have to spend about an hour down here to understand that the weather patterns are grim, grimmer, and less grim. In fact, there were so many shipwrecks down here, eventually castaway depots were left along with wild pigs to feed shipwrecked sailors until they could be rescued again.

Eventually, humans returned in the 19th century to decimate both the seal and whale populations, with attempted settlements that, surprise! Failed.

Only the pigs and pests survived.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

While on the ship, I plowed through many of the stories and diaries from early explorers, sealers, and attempted farmers down here, and I just couldn’t even believe anyone would have given it a go. It’s so remote and wild; it would have taken a powerful person even to try.

Like I say, they don’t make men like they used to, eh?!

Even rugged up in my expensive Goretex and merino layers, I could feel the weather here. You’ve got to be prepared. But it’s important to remember that this wild landscape is what has allowed too many incredible creatures to thrive, like the albatross who need high wind.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

No humans inhabit the Auckland Islands these days, no matter how many times I pester the Department of Conservation to let me go down and set up shop. I’m just saying, and I could totally live there and be happy.

Sign. Me. Up.

What makes the Auckland Islands so unique from the other islands is its sheer biodiversity and abundance of very cool, enormous plants.


The subantarctic has an incredible phenomenon called megaherbs – which is what you might expect – huge flowering plants that exist nowhere else on earth. How cool is that?

It’s undoubtedly one of the first things I noticed wandering around the boardwalks and beaches of the island. The plants were big, way big, like Jurassic Park big.

Some of the plants we would frequently see are the Ross Lily, Anisotome latifolia, Dracophyllum, along with a beautiful and gnarly southern Rata forest. Enderby Island has kilometers of boardwalk built across it to protect the native fauna from being disturbed, and it certainly made our walks around much more accessible.

I couldn’t help but send a massive thank you to the team of people who installed them – it would not have been an easy feat. I salute you.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

There are vast numbers of seabirds on the Auckland Islands, despite feral cats and pigs feasting on them until somehow conservation groups raise enough money to eradicate them. Any millionaire philanthropists looking for a project which might be reading this – hit me up!

A vital breeding ground for many birds in the Southern Ocean, the Auckland Islands are home to white-capped albatross and millions of sooty shearwaters.

The Auckland Islands are also home to the largest breeding population of wandering albatross – which are one of my favorites. They are beautiful creatures, and we were lucky enough to observe them dotted amongst the hills and soaring over our heads.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

The Auckland Islands are also home to the highest proportion of the rare yellow-eyed penguins breeding here, the rarest penguins on earth.

We saw so many while exploring the islands, and it made my heart sing to see them here, somewhat thriving where they are in decline in mainland New Zealand.

Some of the other land birds on the Auckland Islands are the Auckland Island snipe, the Auckland Island teal, tomtit, the red-fronted and yellow-crowned parakeets, tūī, bellbirds, pipits, and even falcons.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

Did you know the Hooker’s Sea Lion, which is the world’s rarest sea lion breeds on the Auckland Islands?

I spent a lot of time sitting and quietly observing a breeding sea lion colony while on Enderby Island – and trust me – I’ll never be the same again.

Life, death, birth, sex, dinner, poo, blood, we saw it all. Repeatedly. I left filled with knowledge and the sincere gratitude not to have been born a sea lion female because that just sucks.

Fun fact – a breeding sea lion colony is called a harem. I can attest to the accuracy of this title.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

So what’s the current state of the Auckland Islands? Well, let me update you.

Animal pests introduced by humans over the last 200 years have inflicted severe ecological damage to the Auckland Islands in many ways, but luckily that might change.

Following the successful eradication of mice from Antipodes Island, DOC is currently investigating the feasibility of eradicating pigs, cats, and mice from Auckland Island to achieve mammalian pest-free status for the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands. This would be SO COOL.

In the meantime, if you’re keen to get down to the subantarctic like me, and see this incredible place for yourself, hop on one of Heritage Expedition’s trips as it’s pretty much the only way to get down to places like the Auckland Islands.

Have you heard of the Auckland islands? Is this the kind of place you would visit too? Do you love wild landscapes like me? Share!

auckland islands travel

Many thanks to Heritage Expeditions for taking me to the Subantarctic Islands – like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

The post The raw and wild power of the remote Auckland Islands appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

The raw and wild power of the remote Auckland Islands


The more and more I travel the world, the more I’ve come to realize how much I value and adore going off the grid, voyaging to far shores few have been to and seeing places that barely exist on social media, if not at all.

Trust me; there are still so many spots out there.

These wild places beckon to me, they call to my soul, and they are the spots that fill my heart with pure joy, a joy I can’t even share because there definitely isn’t wifi around.

Does that sound like somewhere right up your alley? Or do you prefer to read about it from the comforts of home? No shaming whatsoever. As an ambitious adventurer full of fear, I devour plenty of stories that I would never in a million years attempt on my own. I get it.

Who doesn’t love a good story?

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

Last year over the Christmas holidays, which is summertime down in New Zealand where I live, I had the incredible opportunity to journey to the bottom of the world with Heritage Expeditions, back to the subantarctic, but this time on the Pacific side of the map – instead of from South America.

A Christchurch-based expedition company, Heritage Expeditions, and I go way back. These guys are badass. Pioneers in conservation tourism, they have been leading the charge over the past decade in responsibly sharing our precious places, encouraging us to be guardians of the natural world.

And I can safely say, there is nowhere better to see this than in the New Zealand subantarctic.

An introduction to New Zealand’s subantarctic islands


If you were to head south from the bottom of New Zealand’s South Island – past Stewart Island, many probably know that you’ll eventually end up in Antarctica.

But before landing on the icy white continent – you’ll first encounter a series of rugged, windswept, uninhabited desolate islands home to a lot of birds. Including the Auckland Islands travel here will blow your mind.

Many might find that description unappealing, but I can tell you, THEY ARE SO AMAZING! Wild weather? Rugged and remote? No people? All the birds?

Does it get any better than that? Don’t think so.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

A few years ago, I traveled to South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, which are subantarctic islands on the South American side, and I felt with the profound and somewhat surprising revelation that I think I like the subantarctic islands better.

Why? Because for me, I enjoyed the wildlife there more. And it’s less white, less icy. I prefer the colors you see there, and it’s a place few ever visit.

Along with the Snares, Campbell Island, and Macquarie Island (Australian managed), on my trip south last year with Heritage Expeditions, we also visited the Auckland Islands – our trip was the Galapagos of the Subantarctic.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

The Auckland Islands are roughly 465 kilometers due south of Bluff, where the ship departs from.

They are the largest of New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, with a combined area of 57,000 hectares or 220 square miles, according to Google – but don’t quote me on that. I have little to no comprehension of size and scale whatsoever.

The Auckland Islands are big but not that big, none of the subantarctic islands are enormous. I imagine this is because they are constantly battered by gale-force winds which have whittled them down – but that’s pure conjecture on my part.

Moving on!

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

The big-but-not-too-big Auckland Islands are home to a massive variety of plants and wildlife, as well as having a rich human history that failed spectacularly many times.

Leave it to the birds.

What’s cool is that the Auckland Islands is considered to be the furthest south wayfaring Polynesians traveled to, with evidence of ovens and middens on Enderby Island from the 13th to 14th centuries before disappearing.

In about 1842, a settlement of Māori and Mōriori tried to establish themselves here too.


You only have to spend about an hour down here to understand that the weather patterns are grim, grimmer, and less grim. In fact, there were so many shipwrecks down here, eventually castaway depots were left along with wild pigs to feed shipwrecked sailors until they could be rescued again.

Eventually, humans returned in the 19th century to decimate both the seal and whale populations, with attempted settlements that, surprise! Failed.

Only the pigs and pests survived.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

While on the ship, I plowed through many of the stories and diaries from early explorers, sealers, and attempted farmers down here, and I just couldn’t even believe anyone would have given it a go. It’s so remote and wild; it would have taken a powerful person even to try.

Like I say, they don’t make men like they used to, eh?!

Even rugged up in my expensive Goretex and merino layers, I could feel the weather here. You’ve got to be prepared. But it’s important to remember that this wild landscape is what has allowed too many incredible creatures to thrive, like the albatross who need high wind.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

No humans inhabit the Auckland Islands these days, no matter how many times I pester the Department of Conservation to let me go down and set up shop. I’m just saying, and I could totally live there and be happy.

Sign. Me. Up.

What makes the Auckland Islands so unique from the other islands is its sheer biodiversity and abundance of very cool, enormous plants.


The subantarctic has an incredible phenomenon called megaherbs – which is what you might expect – huge flowering plants that exist nowhere else on earth. How cool is that?

It’s undoubtedly one of the first things I noticed wandering around the boardwalks and beaches of the island. The plants were big, way big, like Jurassic Park big.

Some of the plants we would frequently see are the Ross Lily, Anisotome latifolia, Dracophyllum, along with a beautiful and gnarly southern Rata forest. Enderby Island has kilometers of boardwalk built across it to protect the native fauna from being disturbed, and it certainly made our walks around much more accessible.

I couldn’t help but send a massive thank you to the team of people who installed them – it would not have been an easy feat. I salute you.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

There are vast numbers of seabirds on the Auckland Islands, despite feral cats and pigs feasting on them until somehow conservation groups raise enough money to eradicate them. Any millionaire philanthropists looking for a project which might be reading this – hit me up!

A vital breeding ground for many birds in the Southern Ocean, the Auckland Islands are home to white-capped albatross and millions of sooty shearwaters.

The Auckland Islands are also home to the largest breeding population of wandering albatross – which are one of my favorites. They are beautiful creatures, and we were lucky enough to observe them dotted amongst the hills and soaring over our heads.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

The Auckland Islands are also home to the highest proportion of the rare yellow-eyed penguins breeding here, the rarest penguins on earth.

We saw so many while exploring the islands, and it made my heart sing to see them here, somewhat thriving where they are in decline in mainland New Zealand.

Some of the other land birds on the Auckland Islands are the Auckland Island snipe, the Auckland Island teal, tomtit, the red-fronted and yellow-crowned parakeets, tūī, bellbirds, pipits, and even falcons.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

Did you know the Hooker’s Sea Lion, which is the world’s rarest sea lion breeds on the Auckland Islands?

I spent a lot of time sitting and quietly observing a breeding sea lion colony while on Enderby Island – and trust me – I’ll never be the same again.

Life, death, birth, sex, dinner, poo, blood, we saw it all. Repeatedly. I left filled with knowledge and the sincere gratitude not to have been born a sea lion female because that just sucks.

Fun fact – a breeding sea lion colony is called a harem. I can attest to the accuracy of this title.

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

auckland islands travel

So what’s the current state of the Auckland Islands? Well, let me update you.

Animal pests introduced by humans over the last 200 years have inflicted severe ecological damage to the Auckland Islands in many ways, but luckily that might change.

Following the successful eradication of mice from Antipodes Island, DOC is currently investigating the feasibility of eradicating pigs, cats, and mice from Auckland Island to achieve mammalian pest-free status for the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands. This would be SO COOL.

In the meantime, if you’re keen to get down to the subantarctic like me, and see this incredible place for yourself, hop on one of Heritage Expedition’s trips as it’s pretty much the only way to get down to places like the Auckland Islands.

Have you heard of the Auckland islands? Is this the kind of place you would visit too? Do you love wild landscapes like me? Share!

auckland islands travel

Many thanks to Heritage Expeditions for taking me to the Subantarctic Islands – like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

The post The raw and wild power of the remote Auckland Islands appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

Macquarie Island is a wildlife paradise


Have you ever wondered what you might find if you headed south of New Zealand? I had wanted to visit Macquarie Island for just about forever.

Well, even if you have the slightest knowledge of geography, you’ll know that you won’t fall off the edge of the map but rather you’ll eventually reach Antarctica and the very bottom of the world.

But what about what’s in the middle? Open ocean? Atlantis?

Few know about the smatterings of islands that exist here, in between New Zealand and Antarctica, and let me tell you, they will blow your mind. New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands are uninhabited and redefine remote, few every visit, but those who do, become totally enamored.

An introduction to New Zealand’s subantarctic islands

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Wild and remote islands are kinda my thing. Give me a rocky windswept beach covered in seals over a white sandy tropical beach. And guys, I totally mean it.

Sure, I love a good relaxing holiday in the sun as much as anyone, but where my heart truly soars is at sea and empty, forgotten lands, usually accessible only by ship.

Here you won’t find a wifi signal or see another person, and birds often outnumber humans by the tens of thousands.

Expedition voyages are now one of my favorite new travel adventures, and when the opportunity presented itself to voyage to New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands earlier this year with Heritage Expeditions, I couldn’t stuff my duffel bag fast enough.


Specializing in expedition travel to remote areas and based out of Christchurch, near where I live here in New Zealand, Heritage Expeditions are leaders in my kind of travel.

Heritage Expeditions was founded in 1985 by Rodney Russ (a kiwi biologist working for the wildlife service), as a way of increasing awareness and conservation of the natural world through responsible expedition travel.

After spending years dedicating his life to work protecting endangered species like kākāpō and the Black Robin and working down in the subantarctic, Rodney learned that by sharing these special wilderness areas with others, they might become “ambassadors” advocating and supporting conservation efforts.

He has long held the view that conservation and responsible travel are partners, that together can achieve what might otherwise be unachievable. Totally agree, Rodney! Thanks for leading the way.

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Over Christmas last year I spent several weeks at sea deep in the Southern Ocean with Heritage Expeditions exploring the subantarctic, and one of the biggest highlights had to be stopping at Macquarie Island.

Roughly 1500 kilometers south of Tasmania, it takes about 3 days sailing to get here in fine weather.

Unfortunately, the weather down here is never fine.

Past the Roaring Forties and deep into the Furious Fifties en route to the Shrieking Sixties, the prevailing weather in the Subantarctic can only be described as Windy As and on Macquarie Island is no exception.

“the most wretched place of involuntary and slavish exilium that can possibly be conceived; nothing could warrant any civilised creature living on such a spot.” Captain Douglass in 1822 

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Part of the Subantarctic Group of Islands, Macquarie Island is home to a research base and it is looked after by the Australian Antarctic Division. Lovingly dubbed “Macca,” it’s small, only 34 kilometers long and 5 km long at it’s widest point on the main island, and it’s positively teeming with wildlife; a real bucketlist spot for my fellow bird nerds, everyone on board was fizzing for our arrival.

Also I reckon everyone was equally excited for some sheltered bays, land and not the wild southern ocean seas that had many spewing in buckets.

I was fine and couldn’t wait to land and explore!

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

For any geology nerds out there, Macquarie Island is also extremely special because it’s the only place on earth where rocks from the earth’s mantle are actually exposed about sea level.

Recap from middle school science class: the mantle is normally 6 kilometers below the ocean floor and therefore not something we ever see except in that dissected and well-labeled globe from school, showing it to be the thick layer of molten rock between the crust and the core of the earth.

Macquarie Island is actually the exposed crest of the undersea Macquarie Ridge, raised to its present position where the Indo-Australian tectonic plate meets the Pacific plate. This one of a kind feature nabbed Macquarie Island a world heritage status over 20 years ago.

Also it’s a place of both outstanding natural beauty and wildlife. And a fuck ton of penguins.

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

The history of Macquarie is a fascinating one, thought to be first discovered in 1810 by Captain Frederick Hasselborough on a trip from Sydney by accident on an commercial expedition looking for seals to slaughter for skins and blubber.

Perhaps early Polynesians visited long before because he reported seeing a shipwreck of an “ancient design” on the island – oh my! My historical nerdy brain is a aquiver with that!

And he was in luck, as there were probably close to half a million seals around Macquarie before they were decimated over the next decade. Even now you can see the remnants of the sealing industry on Macquarie with rusted bits of machinery used in the industry still decorating the beaches.

A grim reminder of a terrible past. Only now are the seal populations recovered. And in a beautiful piece of irony, often these historical sites are covered with enormous elephant seals, happily tooting and roaring at us as we scrambled past them.

visit Macquarie island

Though perhaps what drew me the most to Macquarie Island were the enormous bird colonies here. Home to more than 3.5 million seabirds, this wild little island stinks of glorious poo, and I love it!

It’s covered in birds! I knew it would be similar to South Georgia, which is one of my favorite places on earth.

For example there are around 850,000 pairs of Royal Penguins on Macquarie Island, which is enormous! Millions of birds visit Macquarie Island every year.

There used to be heaps more but they were hunted for decades for their oil after the sealers made their way through the seal populations.

What to pack for a trip to Antarctica

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Lucking out with the weather we were able to make multiple landings and zodiac cruises around Macquarie Island with Heritage Expeditions.

We got to visit the base at the Isthmus on the island and visit the researchers and scientists working on Macquarie and learn about what life is like on a place that is windy and rainy pretty much every day, and hazards include being chased by elephant seals.

Only just a few years ago after seven years of pest eradication, was Macquarie Island finally free from invasive species like rats, rabbits, mice and feral cats which had been brought over by humans and were quickly destroying the bird populations.

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Lusitania Bay is home to upwards of 150,000 pairs of king penguins, the second largest penguins in the world and some of my favorites.

We lucked out big time with the weather and spent a long and beautiful afternoon in the sunshine at Sandy Bay. I’d die to visit Macquarie Island again.

Still and beautiful and warm enough to peel off some layers, we spent hours exploring the beaches and walks around Sandy Bay, taking in all the different bird and seal colonies and enjoying being in the presence of abundant, care-free wildlife.

It truly was an experience I’ll never forget.

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Even now I can close my eyes and immediately be transported back to that magical day at Sandy Bay on Macquarie Island. I can hear the calls of the penguin colonies, recall the smell of the seals and the sounds of the ways. Even remembering to watch where I walked to make sure I didn’t squish a penguin by accident.

How many places are like that in the world that we have the chance to experience firsthand? Visit Macquarie Island, and you won’t be disappointed.

Have you heard of Macquarie Island? Are you a wild beach lover too? Is this the kind of place you dream of visiting too? Spill!

Macquarie Island Expedition: Galapagos of the Southern Ocean

visit Macquarie island

Many thanks to Heritage Expeditions for taking me to the Subantarctic Islands – like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

The post Macquarie Island is a wildlife paradise appeared first on Young Adventuress.



Source link

Macquarie Island is a wildlife paradise


Have you ever wondered what you might find if you headed south of New Zealand? I had wanted to visit Macquarie Island for just about forever.

Well, even if you have the slightest knowledge of geography, you’ll know that you won’t fall off the edge of the map but rather you’ll eventually reach Antarctica and the very bottom of the world.

But what about what’s in the middle? Open ocean? Atlantis?

Few know about the smatterings of islands that exist here, in between New Zealand and Antarctica, and let me tell you, they will blow your mind. New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands are uninhabited and redefine remote, few every visit, but those who do, become totally enamored.

An introduction to New Zealand’s subantarctic islands

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Wild and remote islands are kinda my thing. Give me a rocky windswept beach covered in seals over a white sandy tropical beach. And guys, I totally mean it.

Sure, I love a good relaxing holiday in the sun as much as anyone, but where my heart truly soars is at sea and empty, forgotten lands, usually accessible only by ship.

Here you won’t find a wifi signal or see another person, and birds often outnumber humans by the tens of thousands.

Expedition voyages are now one of my favorite new travel adventures, and when the opportunity presented itself to voyage to New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands earlier this year with Heritage Expeditions, I couldn’t stuff my duffel bag fast enough.


Specializing in expedition travel to remote areas and based out of Christchurch, near where I live here in New Zealand, Heritage Expeditions are leaders in my kind of travel.

Heritage Expeditions was founded in 1985 by Rodney Russ (a kiwi biologist working for the wildlife service), as a way of increasing awareness and conservation of the natural world through responsible expedition travel.

After spending years dedicating his life to work protecting endangered species like kākāpō and the Black Robin and working down in the subantarctic, Rodney learned that by sharing these special wilderness areas with others, they might become “ambassadors” advocating and supporting conservation efforts.

He has long held the view that conservation and responsible travel are partners, that together can achieve what might otherwise be unachievable. Totally agree, Rodney! Thanks for leading the way.

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Over Christmas last year I spent several weeks at sea deep in the Southern Ocean with Heritage Expeditions exploring the subantarctic, and one of the biggest highlights had to be stopping at Macquarie Island.

Roughly 1500 kilometers south of Tasmania, it takes about 3 days sailing to get here in fine weather.

Unfortunately, the weather down here is never fine.

Past the Roaring Forties and deep into the Furious Fifties en route to the Shrieking Sixties, the prevailing weather in the Subantarctic can only be described as Windy As and on Macquarie Island is no exception.

“the most wretched place of involuntary and slavish exilium that can possibly be conceived; nothing could warrant any civilised creature living on such a spot.” Captain Douglass in 1822 

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Part of the Subantarctic Group of Islands, Macquarie Island is home to a research base and it is looked after by the Australian Antarctic Division. Lovingly dubbed “Macca,” it’s small, only 34 kilometers long and 5 km long at it’s widest point on the main island, and it’s positively teeming with wildlife; a real bucketlist spot for my fellow bird nerds, everyone on board was fizzing for our arrival.

Also I reckon everyone was equally excited for some sheltered bays, land and not the wild southern ocean seas that had many spewing in buckets.

I was fine and couldn’t wait to land and explore!

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

For any geology nerds out there, Macquarie Island is also extremely special because it’s the only place on earth where rocks from the earth’s mantle are actually exposed about sea level.

Recap from middle school science class: the mantle is normally 6 kilometers below the ocean floor and therefore not something we ever see except in that dissected and well-labeled globe from school, showing it to be the thick layer of molten rock between the crust and the core of the earth.

Macquarie Island is actually the exposed crest of the undersea Macquarie Ridge, raised to its present position where the Indo-Australian tectonic plate meets the Pacific plate. This one of a kind feature nabbed Macquarie Island a world heritage status over 20 years ago.

Also it’s a place of both outstanding natural beauty and wildlife. And a fuck ton of penguins.

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

The history of Macquarie is a fascinating one, thought to be first discovered in 1810 by Captain Frederick Hasselborough on a trip from Sydney by accident on an commercial expedition looking for seals to slaughter for skins and blubber.

Perhaps early Polynesians visited long before because he reported seeing a shipwreck of an “ancient design” on the island – oh my! My historical nerdy brain is a aquiver with that!

And he was in luck, as there were probably close to half a million seals around Macquarie before they were decimated over the next decade. Even now you can see the remnants of the sealing industry on Macquarie with rusted bits of machinery used in the industry still decorating the beaches.

A grim reminder of a terrible past. Only now are the seal populations recovered. And in a beautiful piece of irony, often these historical sites are covered with enormous elephant seals, happily tooting and roaring at us as we scrambled past them.

visit Macquarie island

Though perhaps what drew me the most to Macquarie Island were the enormous bird colonies here. Home to more than 3.5 million seabirds, this wild little island stinks of glorious poo, and I love it!

It’s covered in birds! I knew it would be similar to South Georgia, which is one of my favorite places on earth.

For example there are around 850,000 pairs of Royal Penguins on Macquarie Island, which is enormous! Millions of birds visit Macquarie Island every year.

There used to be heaps more but they were hunted for decades for their oil after the sealers made their way through the seal populations.

What to pack for a trip to Antarctica

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Lucking out with the weather we were able to make multiple landings and zodiac cruises around Macquarie Island with Heritage Expeditions.

We got to visit the base at the Isthmus on the island and visit the researchers and scientists working on Macquarie and learn about what life is like on a place that is windy and rainy pretty much every day, and hazards include being chased by elephant seals.

Only just a few years ago after seven years of pest eradication, was Macquarie Island finally free from invasive species like rats, rabbits, mice and feral cats which had been brought over by humans and were quickly destroying the bird populations.

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Lusitania Bay is home to upwards of 150,000 pairs of king penguins, the second largest penguins in the world and some of my favorites.

We lucked out big time with the weather and spent a long and beautiful afternoon in the sunshine at Sandy Bay. I’d die to visit Macquarie Island again.

Still and beautiful and warm enough to peel off some layers, we spent hours exploring the beaches and walks around Sandy Bay, taking in all the different bird and seal colonies and enjoying being in the presence of abundant, care-free wildlife.

It truly was an experience I’ll never forget.

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

visit Macquarie island

Even now I can close my eyes and immediately be transported back to that magical day at Sandy Bay on Macquarie Island. I can hear the calls of the penguin colonies, recall the smell of the seals and the sounds of the ways. Even remembering to watch where I walked to make sure I didn’t squish a penguin by accident.

How many places are like that in the world that we have the chance to experience firsthand? Visit Macquarie Island, and you won’t be disappointed.

Have you heard of Macquarie Island? Are you a wild beach lover too? Is this the kind of place you dream of visiting too? Spill!

Macquarie Island Expedition: Galapagos of the Southern Ocean

visit Macquarie island

Many thanks to Heritage Expeditions for taking me to the Subantarctic Islands – like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own – like you could expect less from me!

The post Macquarie Island is a wildlife paradise appeared first on Young Adventuress.



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