Exploring New Zealand’s Sub Antarctic Islands.


Wild and inhospitable to human existence,

the Sub Antarctic Islands are diverse and

abundant with unique flora and fauna.


Rugged landforms rising from the churning swell,

the islands are scattered across the depths of the

southern ocean, south, and southeast of New Zealand.


With storms and bitter weather, the islands

are sacred breeding grounds for the teeming wildlife,

that adapt and breed here, surrounded by stunted forests,

tussock lands and spectacular vertical cliff-faced gardens.


The blaze of colourful mega herbs that flourish briefly

and profusely, incongruous with the harsh climate,

adds drama to the scene of raw and beautiful landscapes,

in the mists and howling winds.


Yet, even here in this isolation, with towering coastlines

and heaving seas, introduced predators have wreaked havoc

on flora and fauna. Explorers, shipwrecks and brief settlers

brought rats, mice, pigs, goats, cats, rabbits, stoats, and sheep,

then left them all behind, after the miserable conditions led to

human abandonment of these unique but fragile isles.


Ongoing effort is now required to protect these special places,

and all that survive here.


I was fortunate to join a Heritage Expeditions trip in December 2021,

to make my own journey of discovery, in mild weather conditions,

of this spectacular and little-visited far-reaching part of New Zealand.

This is my interpretation of my Sub Antarctic experience.

Clare Reilly


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