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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.



The Bounty Islands

These, the barest, bleakest, and most desolate of New Zealand's outlying islands, lie in latitude 47° 43' S and longitude 179° 5' E, i.e., some 490 miles east of Stewart Island. Built wholly of granite, they may well be described as a distant outlier of Stewart Island itself. Their total area is just over half a square mile.

Captain William Bligh of the Bounty discovered and named them in 1788. It was only in the early 1800s that they had any appeal at all to visitors. Sealers marooned their gangs there on the most inhospitable of bare rock terrain, without any natural vegetation and without permanent fresh water supply. The vast seal population was soon almost completely destroyed, and the survivors today seem to be building up in numbers only very slowly. There is, however, a prodigious population of sea birds, especially penguins and mollyhawks.

The islands have no other practical significance. As a sanctuary they should be preserved; in any case they are very difficult to visit and no one is likely to stay there long.

by George Jobberns, C.B.E., M.A., D.SC., Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Canterbury.

  • N.Z. Geographer, Vol. 4, No. 2, (1948), “The Outlying Islands of New Zealand”, Falla, R. A.