Kermadec Islands are unique due to extreme volcanic and earthquake activity and many endemic species of plants and animals.
Volcanoes and earthquakes
These islands represent summits of volcanos lined along a deep oceanic trench. Here oceanic earth crust slips under the Kermadec islands with an amazing speed. As a result here are located several quite active volcanoes and the largest island - Raoul Island - experiences almost daily earthquakes. These are the main reasons why islands are not inhabited by people. Maori lived here for a short time in the 14th - 15th centuries (there have been found stone adzes left by them) but left - most likely due to the catastrophic eruption.
White people did not have any more success - volcanoes, remoteness of the islands and earthquakes have repeatedly driven away any inhabitants.
The largest island - Raoul Island - is covered with beautiful subtropical moist forest. Forests on other larger island - Macauley - have been exterminated by goats. Dominant forest tree on Raoul Island is the endemic Kermadec pokutukawa (Metrosideros kermadecensis) flowering with countless red flowers. Here grows also one of the tallest tree ferns in the world - endemic Cyathea kermadecensis, which is up to 20 m tall. In total on the island grow 23 endemic species of vascular plants.
3 species of birds breed only in Kermadec Islands. There is also endemic bird subspecies - Kermadec Red-crowned Parakeet (Cyanoramphus novaezelandiae cyanurus). It is possible that few centuries ago here lived also a unique megapod. On islands are living numerous unique species of invertebrates, also in the sea around the islands are endemic marine fishes. Amazing is the Kermadec giant limpet (Patella kermadecensis).
Islands are protected since 1937 and currently there are on-going activities to restore the natural ecosystem.
- Curtis Island Volcano - Curtis Island. This small (500 x 800 m, 137 m high) island represents a summit of active volcano with fumaroles. Crater of this volcano is located approximately 10 m above the sea level. Island is quickly rising - it rised 7 m between 1929 and 1964. Almost every day here are earthquakes.
- Green Lake - Raoul Island. Green colored lake in volcanic crater, with acidic water, formed in 1872. Sudden eruption in 17 March 2006 took a life of worker measuring the temperature of water in the lake. Fumarolic activity around it, lake water often changes color.
- Hot springs of Oneraki Beach - northern shore of Raoul Island. Hot springs in beach zone, water sometimes is boiling.
- Steaming Cliffs at Denham Bay - Raoul Island, cliffs at the beach of Denham Bay.