Tuesday, June 11, 2013


The largest, highest, and biologically the richest of the five island groups, the Auckland Islands lie 460 km south of Bluff in latitude 50 degrees south and at the western margin of the Campbell Plateau. The main island, Auckland Island (50,990 ha in area and 40 km long), is large enough to accommodate aoo of the other islands in the New Zealand subantarctic region. put together..

On the outside of a rata forest
The flora of the Auckland Islands is a feast for the eyes. From red-flowering rata coastal forest to the tundra-like tops, through scrubland, grassland and meadows of colorful megaherbs, the plant life is diverse and fascinating.
 Inside the rata forest, the twisted trunks form an open understory. This is a forest fit for goblins, a real Hansel and Gretel feeling.
Inside this deep forest, Yellow-eyed Penguins nest in recessed areas. About 500 pairs nest at Enderby Island.
 Some of the spectacular megaherbs.

A showcase for subantarctic wildlife, the Auckland Islands harbor a diverse community of marine mammals, seabirds, land birds and invertebrate animals. The sea lion is an outstanding feature. This is the home and castle of the New Zealand or Hooker's Sea Lion, a rare member of the seal family. About 90 percent of breeding occurs at just four sites Tiny Dundas Island off the east coast is the main one, and there are two on Enderby Island and another at Figure of Eight Island in Carnley Harbor. 

Seabirds abound here. Three species are outstanding. These are the Gibson's Albatross, a member of the Wandering Albatross group, the Southern Royal Albatross and White-capped Albatross, About 5,000 pairs of Light-mantled Sooty Albatrosses also nest here. 
 Another prominent seabird at Enderby Island is the Auckland Island Shag which nests in colonies at the cliff edges.
There are more endemic land birds at the Auckland Islands than at other groups. The list runs to six: a rail, snipe, teal, banded dotterel, tomtit and pipit. The Auckland Island Rail was "rediscovered" in 1989 on Adams Island. A race of the New Zealand Falcon inhabits the Auckland Islands, the only raptor in the New Zealand subantarctic region. (I have seen it here!) It can sometimes be seen chasing smaller birds through the coastal forests. Two mainland parakeet species— red-crowned and yellow-crowned— have established colonies at the Auckland Islands. 

We shall spend DAYS 4 & 5 of the BIRDING DOWN UNDER VOYAGE at the Auckland Islands, exploring first, Enderby Island and at Carnley Harbor. We shall depart on the afternoon of the second day for Macquarie Island. DAY 6: At sea, birding, of course!

Debi Shearwater

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