A Rich History

There are five New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Island groups scattered across the Southern Ocean in latitudes known as the "roaring forties" and "furious fifties".

They are New Zealand's southernmost islands and are of significant ecological and historical importance to our nation. They include the Snares, Auckland Islands, Campbell Islands, Bounty Islands and Antipodes Islands. These islands support a huge amount of biodiversity for the surrounding ocean. Marine Animals use these Islands as a place to breed and rest.

The Auckland Islands sit on the Campbell plateau, which was part of the submerged continent Zealandia which became submerged around 25 million years ago. The Auckland Islands are the largest of the five Islands groups and are made up of the remains of two ancient shield volcanoes which have been subsequently carved away by glaciers leaving deep glacial valleys and a series of long inlets on the eastern coast while the Southern ocean has eroded the southern and western coasts exposing towering cliffs. There are two main islands, Auckland Island and Adams Island with a number of surrounding smaller islands including Disappointment Island, Enderby Island, Dundas, Ewing and Figure of Eight Island. There are two harbours, Port Ross in the north-east and Carnley Harbour in the south.

25 million years of isolation has led to speciation and a number of endemic species to Auckland Islands that are closely related to New Zealand mainland species. These species are strongly tied to the islands and is therefore an important sea bird breeding ground with an abundance of albatrosses, penguins, petrels, sooty shearwater and the endemic Auckland Island Shag. The Auckland Island snipe, teal, rail, tomtit and shag are all examples of land birds who have speciated since their isolation from mainland populations. Landbirds include the 4 endemic species and red fronted and yellow crowned parakeets, Tui, New Zealand Bellbird, New Zealand pipit. The Auckland Island Dotterel is a race of the mainland banded dotterel and the Auckland Island Falcon are a race of the mainland species. Auckland islands have the largest number of New Zealand sub-antarctic invertebrates with over two hundred species of insects, 12 endemic moths, 24 species of spider and 11 species of springtail. Weta have also speciated into an endemic form called Dendroplectron aucklandensis. There are also 19 species of endemic freshwater invertebrates. The islands support five species of marine mammal, New Zealand Sea Lion, New Zealand Fur Seal, Southern Right Whale and the occasional visit from Elephant seal and Leopard Seal. This is also the main breeding ground for the New Zealand Sea Lion.

Auckland Islands has the richest flora of the five island groups with 233 species recorded, 196 of these are native.

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