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  • Photograph of Royal Penguin

    Royal Penguin on Macquarie Island by Jon Hornbuckle.

    SUBANTARCTIC ISLANDS

    Best Wildlife in the Subantarctic Islands

    Mammals
    Southern Elephant Seal, New Zealand Fur Seal and New Zealand (Hooker’s) Sealion. Also a chance of Killer, Sperm, Gray’s Beaked and Long-finned Pilot Whales, (Common) Bottlenose and Southern Right Whale Dolphins, and Subantarctic Fur Seal.

    Birds
    King, Royal, Erect-crested, Snares Crested, Gentoo, Little, Rockhopper and Yellow-eyed Penguins, Wandering (Snowy), Antipodean (Wandering), Gibson's (Wandering), Northern and Southern Royal, Light-mantled, Northern and Southern Buller’s, Chatham (White-capped), Salvin’s (White-capped), White-capped (Shy), Campbell, Black-browed and Grey-headed Albatrosses, White-faced Storm Petrel, Shore Plover, Cook’s, Mottled and Westland Petrels, Buller’s and Hutton’s Shearwaters, Common Diving Petrel, Auckland Island, Bounty Island, Campbell Island, Chatham Island, Macquarie Island and Pitt Island Shags, Auckland Island (Brown) Teal, Auckland Island (Subantarctic) Snipe, Chatham Island Oystercatcher, Antipodes Island Parakeet, Chatham Island (New Zealand) Pigeon and Chatham Island Gerygone, as well as Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Southern Fulmar, Blue, Great-winged, Pintado (Cape), Soft-plumaged, White-chinned and White-headed Petrels, Antarctic, Broad-billed, Fairy and Fulmar Prions, Flesh-footed, Little and Sooty Shearwaters, Black-bellied, Grey-backed and Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Gannet, White-faced Heron, Swamp Harrier, Masked Lapwing, Double-banded Plover, Kelp and Red-billed Gulls, Antarctic and White-fronted Terns, Subantarctic Skua, Red-crowned Parakeet, New Zealand Bellbird, Tui, Grey Fantail, Tomtit, Welcome Swallow, Fernbird, Silvereye and New Zealand (Australasian) Pipit. Also a chance of Chatham Island, Grey, Magenta (Taiko) and Kerguelen Petrels, Short-tailed Shearwater, New Zealand Falcon and Yellow-crowned Parakeet, and an outside chance of Campbell Island Teal. Introduced species include Weka, (Eurasian) Sky Lark, (Common) Blackbird, Song Thrush, (European) Starling, Dunnock, Lesser Redpoll, (Common) Chaffinch, (European) Greenfinch, (European) Goldfinch and House Sparrow.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in the Subantarctic Islands

    Photograph of Auckland Island Shag

    Auckland Island Shag by Jon Hornbuckle.

    Best Times for Wildlife in the Subantarctic Islands

    Cruises usually operate in November.

    Recommended Books etc. for the Subantarctic Islands (and New Zealand)

    The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand by B Heather and H Robertson. Penguin, 2015 (Fourth Edition).

    The Hand Guide to the Birds of New Zealand by H Robertson and B Heather. Penguin, 2015 (Second Edition).

    Birds of New Zealand: A Photographic Guide by P Scofield and B Stephenson. Auckland University Press, 2013.

    Birds of New Zealand: Locality Guide by S Chambers. Arun Books, 2014 (Fourth Edition).

    Field Guide to the Wildlife of New Zealand by J Fitter. Helm, 2010.

    Bradt Travel Guide: New Zealand Wildlife by J Fitter. Bradt, 2009.


    Apps etc.

    Birds of New Zealand.

    Trip Reports for the Subantarctic Islands

    Many trip reports, some for the Subantarctic Islands, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Subantarctic Islands. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Subantarctic Islands' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in the Subantarctic Islands

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in the Subantarctic Islands

    Some Organized Tours to the Subantarctic Islands

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who are running organized tours to the Subantarctic Islands in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.