New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands are five groups of uninhabited and windswept islands in the Southern Ocean far to the south or east of Stewart Island. Once a hazard in the days of sailing ships, the islands are now wildlife preserves which, due to their isolation, are only visited occasionally, mostly by scientists or conservation workers. The islands are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- 1 The Snares (Tini Heke). This group is by far the closest to the main islands of New Zealand and consists of the main North East Island and the nearby and smaller Broughton Island together with the Western Chain Islands about 5km (3.1 mi) to the west-south-west. Taken all together, this group only has a total land area of 3.5km² (1.35 sq mi).
- 2 Auckland Islands (Motu Maha).
- 3 Campbell Island.
- 4 The Antipodes. The most distant land from London
- 5 Bounty Islands. Discovered by Captain Bligh a few months before the crew of his ship The Bounty mutinied, these 13 granite islets and numerous rocks have a combined area of only 135 ha. However, they have a significance out of proportion to their size as breeding sites for erect-crested penguins, Salvin's albatrosses and Bounty shags.
In Nov 2013, contributors to the respected journal Science chose these Sub-Antarctic Islands as one of 78 protected areas around the globe as the most critical for preventing the extinction of mammals, birds and amphibians.
These Sub-Antarctic Islands provide nesting sites for hundreds of thousands of seabirds, and the waters surrounding them harbour the endangered New Zealand sea lion.
Access to these islands is generally by, or with the support of, a boat. The islands are beyond the (return) range of most helicopters and there is no airstrip for fixed wing aircraft. Access is generally by permit only. Companies offering trips visiting the islands include:
Weather in this part of the world can be extreme.