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Sub Antarctic Islands

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TRAVELLING TO Sub Antarctic Islands

Did you know Antarctica is surrounded on all sides by Sub-Antarctic islands? Most of them are mere specks in the Southern Ocean – not even shown on most world maps. However, these unique, beautiful, and biodiverse islands are rarely visited by travelers and are ideal for anyone seeking a rugged and remote adventure!

Sub-Antarctic cruises usually visit several islands, which can include

MACQUARIE ISLAND

Macquarie Island is one of the most incredible, and least visited, regions of Australia.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Macquarie Island is an Australian territory located approximately halfway between Australia and New Zealand in the Southern Pacific Ocean. This unique island is located on a similar latitude to South Georgia, and just like South Georgia, Macquarie Island is home to an astonishing range of wildlife. The uber-cool royal penguin is endemic, as is the Macquarie Island shag. King penguins, southern rockhoppers, and gentoo penguins all breed here in huge numbers - king penguins number in the hundreds of thousands.

Seal species include the southern elephant seal (approx. 80,000), sub-Antarctic fur seals, Antarctic fur seals, and New Zealand fur seals. Migratory whales such as orcas and southern right whales are known to frequent the surrounding waters. Put simply, Macquarie Island is incredible.

THE SNARES

Located approximately 200km south of New Zealand's South Island, the Snares are a wildlife lovers dream. The Snares are home to an incredible array of wildlife - including arguably the highest density of birdlife anywhere in the world, with around 5 million birds calling the place home. If penguins are your thing - let's face it, who doesn't love penguins? - the Snares crested penguin is endemic to this small group of uninhabited islands. Highlights of the Snares include multiple species of petrels, terns, albatross, New Zealand sea lions, fur seals, megaherbs and much more.

Named after its hazardous reputation for entangling the odd passing ship, the Snares are part of the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands - a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

CAMPBELL ISLAND

Another UNESCO listed uninhabited New Zealand Sub-Antarctic island chain, Campbell Island is a critical breeding ground for many species of bird - exemplified by its status as the most important breeding ground for the southern royal albatross (one of the largest bird species in the world). The elusive wandering albatross and light-mantled sooty albatross also breed on Campbell Island, as do many other bird species, including petrels, gulls, terns, and many, many more.

Breeding species of penguins include the photogenic yellow-eyed penguin, rockhopper penguin, and erect-crested penguin. Sea lions and southern elephant seals can be found on the shorelines and southern right whales are known to frequent the bays.

AUCKLAND ISLANDS

The Auckland Islands are home to over 200 native species of plants, the greatest flora diversity of any of the Sub-Antarctic islands. In summertime, the Auckland Islands are awash with colour as the endemic plant species and megaherb communities flower. New Zealand sea lions, several albatross species, yellow-eyed penguins, and rockhopper penguins all reside on the Auckland Islands.

You may ask – considering they are so small compared to Antarctica itself - if they're worth your time! Most definitely -here's why you'll love cruising to the sub-Antarctic Islands:

Immerse yourself in Antarctic history. Many of the islands were used by the early explorers as staging points for their expeditions to Antarctica or just as a base for commercial activity such as whaling, sealing and fishing. This means they contain some amazing historical buildings and relics.

Amazing plant life. Most Sub-Antarctic islands are far enough north of Antarctica proper that the climate allows for all number of plants to thrive: many of them unique to their host island.

Unbelievable wildlife. Most Sub-Antarctic islands are surrounded by the Southern Ocean in the middle of nowhere. And the Southern Ocean teems with fish and other marine life, a bounty that attracts penguins and mammals such as seals. They visit these sections of the ocean and although they have large feeding grounds – they still need to return to land, making these small islands probably the most concentrated wildlife sites in the world. 

[ Continue Reading ]

Did you know Antarctica is surrounded on all sides by Sub-Antarctic islands? Most of them are mere specks in the Southern Ocean – not even shown on most world maps. However, these unique, beautiful, and biodiverse islands are rarely visited by travelers and are ideal for anyone seeking a rugged and remote adventure!

Sub-Antarctic cruises usually visit several islands, which can include

MACQUARIE ISLAND

Macquarie Island is one of the most incredible, and least visited, regions of Australia.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Macquarie Island is an Australian territory located approximately halfway between Australia and New Zealand in the Southern Pacific Ocean. This unique island is located on a similar latitude to South Georgia, and just like South Georgia, Macquarie Island is home to an astonishing range of wildlife. The uber-cool royal penguin is endemic, as is the Macquarie Island shag. King penguins, southern rockhoppers, and gentoo penguins all breed here in huge numbers - king penguins number in the hundreds of thousands.

Seal species include the southern elephant seal (approx. 80,000), sub-Antarctic fur seals, Antarctic fur seals, and New Zealand fur seals. Migratory whales such as orcas and southern right whales are known to frequent the surrounding waters. Put simply, Macquarie Island is incredible.

THE SNARES

Located approximately 200km south of New Zealand's South Island, the Snares are a wildlife lovers dream. The Snares are home to an incredible array of wildlife - including arguably the highest density of birdlife anywhere in the world, with around 5 million birds calling the place home. If penguins are your thing - let's face it, who doesn't love penguins? - the Snares crested penguin is endemic to this small group of uninhabited islands. Highlights of the Snares include multiple species of petrels, terns, albatross, New Zealand sea lions, fur seals, megaherbs and much more.

Named after its hazardous reputation for entangling the odd passing ship, the Snares are part of the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands - a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

CAMPBELL ISLAND

Another UNESCO listed uninhabited New Zealand Sub-Antarctic island chain, Campbell Island is a critical breeding ground for many species of bird - exemplified by its status as the most important breeding ground for the southern royal albatross (one of the largest bird species in the world). The elusive wandering albatross and light-mantled sooty albatross also breed on Campbell Island, as do many other bird species, including petrels, gulls, terns, and many, many more.

Breeding species of penguins include the photogenic yellow-eyed penguin, rockhopper penguin, and erect-crested penguin. Sea lions and southern elephant seals can be found on the shorelines and southern right whales are known to frequent the bays.

AUCKLAND ISLANDS

The Auckland Islands are home to over 200 native species of plants, the greatest flora diversity of any of the Sub-Antarctic islands. In summertime, the Auckland Islands are awash with colour as the endemic plant species and megaherb communities flower. New Zealand sea lions, several albatross species, yellow-eyed penguins, and rockhopper penguins all reside on the Auckland Islands.

You may ask – considering they are so small compared to Antarctica itself - if they're worth your time! Most definitely -here's why you'll love cruising to the sub-Antarctic Islands:

Immerse yourself in Antarctic history. Many of the islands were used by the early explorers as staging points for their expeditions to Antarctica or just as a base for commercial activity such as whaling, sealing and fishing. This means they contain some amazing historical buildings and relics.

Amazing plant life. Most Sub-Antarctic islands are far enough north of Antarctica proper that the climate allows for all number of plants to thrive: many of them unique to their host island.

Unbelievable wildlife. Most Sub-Antarctic islands are surrounded by the Southern Ocean in the middle of nowhere. And the Southern Ocean teems with fish and other marine life, a bounty that attracts penguins and mammals such as seals. They visit these sections of the ocean and although they have large feeding grounds – they still need to return to land, making these small islands probably the most concentrated wildlife sites in the world. 

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WHY TRAVEL WITH CHIMU ADVENTURES

  • We are true polar specialists. Almost every Chimu team member has travelled to either Antarctica or the Arctic and has an average of ten years' experience in selling the region. 

  • We have inspected and continue to thoroughly research each individual vessel we work with, selecting only small ships with strong environmental, safety, and ethical credentials. 

  • We know all things polar by heart and will work with you to determine which ship and itinerary is best suited. Travellers visit the polar regions for different reasons, including wildlife, photography, snowshoeing, and kayaking, so we'll find the perfect expedition for your interests. 

  • From your initial enquiry until your trip ends, you'll be assigned a personal Destination Specialist who will offer a full service to your travel needs: we can book flights, insurance, and any additional travel to complete your journey. 

FEATURED Sub Antarctic Islands TRIPS & DEALS

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SINGLE TRAVELLER OFFER
15 Days

Expedition to New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands

New Zealand & Subantarctic Islands

Ship: Le Soleal

START: Dunedin, New Zealand

FINISH: Dunedin, New Zealand

  • 03/12/2024
  • 17/12/2024
  • 29/12/2025
  • 12/01/2026

Sub Antarctic Islands CRUISES

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17 Days

Birding Down Under

Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

SHIP: Heritage Adventurer

START: Queenstown, New Zealand

FINISH: Queenstown, New Zealand

  • 03/12/2024

  • 06/12/2025

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12 Days

Galapagos of the Southern Ocean

Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

SHIP: Heritage Adventurer

START: Queenstown, New Zealand

FINISH: Queenstown, New Zealand

  • 18/12/2024

  • 26/11/2025
  • 31/12/2025

View Map
28 Days

In the Wake of Scott and Shackleton

Ross Sea and Subantarctic Islands

SHIP: Heritage Adventurer

START: Queenstown, New Zealand

FINISH: Queenstown, New Zealand

  • 07/01/2025

  • 02/02/2025
  • 10/01/2026
  • 05/02/2026

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8 Days

Forgotten Islands of the South Pacific

Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand

SHIP: Heritage Adventurer

START: Invercargill, New Zealand

FINISH: Invercargill, New Zealand

  • 28/12/2024

  • 21/12/2025

View Map
22 Days

Ross Sea Expedition: Dunedin to Dunedin

Subantarctic Islands of New Zealand & Antarctica

SHIP: Le Soleal

START: Dunedin, New Zealand

FINISH: Dunedin, New Zealand

  • 26/01/2025

  • 16/02/2025

View Map
15 Days

Expedition to New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands

New Zealand & Subantarctic Islands

SHIP: Le Soleal

START: Dunedin, New Zealand

FINISH: Dunedin, New Zealand

  • 03/12/2024

  • 17/12/2024
  • 29/12/2025
  • 12/01/2026

Sub Antarctic Islands REVIEWS

All Chimu Adventures' clients are given the opportunity to review their trip once they return home. These reviews are administered by a third party and as such are unfiltered by Chimu Adventures.

BLOGS ON Sub Antarctic Islands

Looking for blogs on the sub-Antarctic islands, Latin America, or even the Arctic? If so, we have you covered! The Chimu blog is updated regularly with new articles and packed with great content on planning your trip, what to pack, and amazing adventures in each destination. 

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Many of the sub-Antarctic islands are in the Antipodes and are reachable by cruises from Australia and New Zealand.

As with Antarctica, cruises to the sub-Antarctic islands operate during the Australian summer months, generally November-March. 

Macquarie Island is part of Australia, while Bounty Island, the Snares, Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands and Campbell Island are part of New Zealand. 

The sub-Antarctic islands are a true paradise for wildlife! The wildlife observed will vary based on the islands visited, the time of year, and the weather conditions, but commonly-seen species include elephant seals, albatross, and many penguin species, including Gentoo, rockhopper, Snares crested, and the yellow-eyed penguin. 

You may also see fur seals, whales, and shearwaters. 

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