Most interesting landmarks of Campbell Island

Campbell Islands are a group of islands 640 km from the South Island, New Zealand.
This is one of two New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands available to tourists – other is Enderby Island in Auckland Islands, tourists can visit also Macquarie Island (Australia) in this region. Some 600 tourists are allowed to visit Campbell Islands every year.

All sub-Antarctic islands offer dramatic scenery: incredibly tall cliffs, rough seas, countless flowers and birds. Campbell Island is not an exception – it has this all with an overplus. Island represents a remnant of ancient volcano with impressive submerged valleys similar to fjords.

Southernmost forest and megaherb meadows

Island has the southernmost forest in this area of globe – native trees here rise up to 5 m height.

Vegetation on the island, in spite of the fact that this is sub-Antarctic island, is very bright and lush. Especially beautiful are the characteristic sub-Antarctic megaherb meadows. In springtime these herbs are flowering with enormous flowers, turning Campbell Island into one of the most impressive natural meadows in the world. Especially impressive plants are Ross lily (Bulbinella rossii), Campbell Island Daisy (Pleurophyllum speciosum) and Campbell Island Carrot (Anisotome latifolia). Here even grow some orchids. None of these plants is entirely endemic to Campbell island – they grow also on Auckland Islands and some more sub-Antarctic islands.

Bird life and other animals

Campbell Teals (in captivity)
Campbell Teals (in captivity) / Stomac, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

There are three endemic bird species:

  • Campbell Teal (Anas nesiotis). This is flightless duck which was considered to be extinct until 1975 when was discovered a small group of birds on nearby Dent Island. Thanks to successful breeding the population of ducks now is above 200.
  • Campbell Island Snipe (Coenocorypha aucklandica perseverance) – subspecies of Subantarctic Snipe, endemic to Campbell Island. This is one of the least known birds in the world, first sighted in 1997 on the nearly inaccessible Jacquemart Island.
  • Campbell Island Shag (Phalacrocorax campbelli) – population of several thousand birds.

Here are living three species of penguins – Eastern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome filholi), Erect-crested Penguin (Eudyptes sclateri) and Yellow-eyed Penguin (Megadyptes antipodes). Majority of world’s Southern Royal Albatrosses (Diomedea epomophora) – more than 8,000 pairs – are breeding here. These bright white birds have a wingspan up to 3 m.

Here live endemic land gastropods – Pseudaneitea sorenseni, P. campbellensis as well as endemic freshwater midges, polychaetes, spiders.

Once the island had one of the densest rat populations but they were eradicated in 2001 – 2003. This allows gradual comeback of the original ecosystem.


Campbell Island Daisy
Campbell Island Daisy / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Cliffs in the southern and western side of Campbell Island are more than 300 m high.
  • Basalt columns in Perserverance Harbour – beautiful formations of basalt columns.
  • Falls of Penguin Stream – western corner of Campbell Island. Impressive fall over vertical seaside cliff. Nearly permanent western winds catch up this fall and water goes upwards. Falls end up in the middle of penguin colony at the sea.
  • Megaherb meadows – some of the few sub-Antarctic megaherb meadows which are available to tourists. On Campbell Island these meadows are located higher than forest and shrubland.
  • Ranfurly’s tree – Camp Cove. A Sitka spruce planted here in 1901 or 1902. This is considered to be the loneliest tree in the world – with some allowance, because other trees here are up to 5 m tall. This tree is some 6 m tall.

Described landmarks of Campbell Island

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Video of Campbell Island

Pascale Otis, April 2011

Recommended books

New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands

Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will

The Atlas of Remote Islands, Judith Schalansky’s beautiful and deeply personal account of the islands that have held a place in her heart throughout her lifelong love of cartography, has captured the imaginations of readers everywhere. Using historic events and scientific reports as a springboard, she creates a story around each island: fantastical, inscrutable stories, mixtures of fact and imagination that produce worlds for the reader to explore.

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