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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Campbell Island

This island, some 44 sq. miles in area, lies in latitude 52° 30' S and longitude 169° 8' E, i.e., some 150 miles ESE of the Auckland group. High and rugged in the south (up to 1,867 ft), it slopes off more gently to the north where smoothed ridges and open valleys suggest considerable recent glaciation. The east coast is broken by the two long, narrow, sheltered inlets of Perseverance and North-east Harbours; the former, indeed, almost severs the island in two. Off the cliffed coasts of the west and south are several little rocky islets. The geological structure of the island is rather complex. There are some scattered sedimentary beds, but most of the surface rocks are nearly horizontal sheets of lava and scoria, with older coarse-grained gabbros in the rugged south-west.

The climate of Campbell Island is similar to that of the Auckland group; though a little colder, it has less cloud and more sunshine and soils are not so wet and sour. Over most of the area is a cover of tussock with some scattered patches of scrubby Dracophyllum. Herbaceous plants, formerly varied and abundant, have for the most part been eaten out by sheep.

The island was discovered in 1810 by F. Hasselburgh, captain of the sealing ship Perseverance, owned by the Sydney firm of Campbell and Co. The seal population was soon reduced to the point where interest in the island was lost. It was visited by the Ross expedition in 1840 and, sporadically up to the 1890s, by whalers. In 1896 sheep were introduced and the island was more or less continuously occupied up till 1931.

Present interest in Campbell Island centres on the meteorological station set up there in 1941, and maintained continuously since.