They are possibly one of the world's best-kept secrets, but the Sub-Antarctic islands are one of the few places that you should see before you die. They may have a shallow profile, as most people don't know about them, but they are some of the most magnificent wildlife reserves in the world. Because of the word "Antarctic," you may think that these islands are just frozen wastelands, but you will feel like you've never been so wrong if you come here.
To be fair, the Antarctic itself is frozen to the core, but the Sub-Antarctic islands are far from it. Also, we don't blame you if you don't know them since they are just specks of dirt on the map, but these islands are incredible if you're looking to immerse yourself in nature.
However, compared to mainland Antarctica, the Sub-Antarctic has some vegetation. And because the islands themselves are small, concentrated groups of animals are constantly on the islands, mainly marine animals like seals, penguins, and different species of fish.
What are the Sub-Antarctic Islands?
The Sub-Antarctic Islands mainly comprise six groups: Snares Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, and Macquarie Islands. The first five islands belong to New Zealand, and the Macquarie Islands are located in Australia. These islands are very remote and close to Antarctica, but they are bountiful in flora and fauna.
Because of this, many marine animals can be located on these islands, and most of them are endemic. In addition, these islands are nature reserves protected by UNESCO as a world heritage site. Let's talk about them in detail. These islands are to be differentiated with the Antarctic Islands which are the Falkland Islands, Patagonia, etc.
For both of these islands, commercially traveling there is possible and there are several tour groups that can take you there, but if you’re looking for falkland islands tours and cruises, you can try Quark Expeditions.
The Snares consist of the main North East Island, the smaller Broughton Island, and the Western chain of islands. The Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, first discovered these groups of islands and even named one of them Te Taniwha, which means sea monster. These islands are then sighted by Europeans back in 1791 while on board the HMS Chatham and HMS Discovery.
This group of islands is called the Snares Islands because one of the captains saw these islands as hazardous. Luckily, this group of islands remained uninhabited, which means that they were safe from the whaling and sealing industry back in the 19th century, which would have plagued them with mice and other pests.
If you've heard about the story of Bounty's mutiny, then you will be familiar with these islands. These islands were found by Captain William Bligh back in 1788 and was named after their ship, "Bounty," with just a few mere months before the Bounty mutiny happened.
On the other hand, the Maori people called it Moutere Hariri, which means angry wind because of the weather conditions on the islands. Unfortunately, the sealing and whaling industry targeted these islands and became popular hunting grounds. Now, they are well-protected, and many marine animals are back within the islands.
These volcanic islands were originally called the Pen Antipodes, which means "next to the antipodes," because they are located near the antipodes of London. Of all six Sub-Antarctic islands, this group of islands is one of the lesser-known and visited groups.
For the most part, they remained uninhabited except for that one time when a few groups of sealers made their way into the islands back in the 19th century and almost wiped out all of the seals.
These rugged volcanic islands are some of the largest groups of islands in the Sub-Antarctic. They are also the richest with fauna and home to some of the rarest birds on earth. Although they are now uninhabited, they have a rich human history which started with the Iwi.
Their traditions include expeditions on the Auckland islands in search of food and resources. Unfortunately, however, sealers and whalers set up a temporary base in these islands, which eventually became one of the Pacific's principal sealing and whaling bases.
Campbell Islands remained hidden until it was discovered by Captain Frederick Hasselburgh of the sealing brig "Perseverance." With that, it has been a base of operations for sealing and then later became a base for sealing.
They even started a farm on the island. Fortunately, the island is uninhabited nowadays, and nature has restored the land. Nowadays, it has been a home for some of the rarest birds of the earth like the Campbell Island Teal and six species of albatross, which include the gray-headed, black-browed, light-mantled sooty, and Gibson's wandering albatross.
Last but not least, Macquarie Island. It's a natural wonder of the world only consisting of purely oceanic crust. It was first discovered by Sealers back in 1810, but they discovered ancient wrecks, which implies that perhaps the Polynesians discovered the island prior.
The sealing era on the island lasted from 1810 to 1919, leaving shipwrecks, pots, huts, and even ruins. Nowadays, it is home to the world's entire population of Royal penguins during their annual nesting season. Luckily, it's open for ship landing and small shore excursions.
If you're looking to add something worthwhile to your bucket list, going to these islands should be one of them. These islands are great in scenery and adventure, or if you're looking to see some rare animals, then these are the places to go. See you there!