Story: Subantarctic islands

Page 9. Snares, Antipodes and Bounty islands

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The Snares

The closest subantarctic islands to New Zealand, about 100 km south of Stewart Island, the Snares consist of two groups:

  • North East Island, with Broughton Island, Alert Stack and several smaller islands. The main island is 2.8 sq km in size with steep cliffs on the west and gentle slopes on the east
  • the much smaller Western Chain of five islands and stacks.

The Snares are granite, and predominantly forested with Olearia lyallii (tree daisy) and Brachyglottis stewartiae. The islands are noted for their huge flocks of seabirds, especially sooty shearwaters (tītī), with an average of almost two burrows every square metre. The Snares are free of introduced predators, and have only two introduced plants, making them one of the most untouched environments in New Zealand. Landing is not permitted.

Antipodes Islands

860 kilometres south-east of Stewart Island, the Antipodes are New Zealand’s most distant subantarctic land. They have a total land area of 20.9 sq km, and the main island is about 7 kilometres by 5 kilometres. Bollons Island is north of the main island. The Antipodes are of comparatively recent volcanic origin, and the volcanic cones are the two central high points, Mts Waterhouse and Galloway (the highest at 366 m). From the centre there is an undulating plateau which leads down to coastal cliffs up to 160 m high. There are no harbours.

The landscape is tussock, fern and coprosma scrub. Two huts remain – a castaway depot and a Department of Lands and Survey hut.

Million-dollar mouse

The only introduced predators on the Antipodes Islands are mice, which eat the eggs and chicks of seabirds. In 2012 Gareth and Jo Morgan launched a public appeal. They agreed to match donations dollar for dollar, to raise $1 million to eradicate mice from the islands.

Bounty Islands

The Bounty Islands are 22 granite outcrops which stretch in three groups over 5 kilometres of stormy sea. They are 700 kilometres east of the South Island, and the total land area is only 135 hectares. The largest island, Depot Island, named because it held a castaway depot, is only 800 metres long, and 88 metres high at its highest point. The rocks are largely barren except for lichens, but are home to abundant bird life, especially penguins and mollymawks. There are no beaches or easy landing points.

How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Subantarctic islands - Snares, Antipodes and Bounty islands', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/subantarctic-islands/page-9 (accessed 21 July 2017)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 12 Sep 2012