Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Remote Island Escapes -

GOOD FOR: Re­bound­ing na­ture, in­clud­ing four mil­lion pen­guins

A drib­ble of vol­canic is­lands dot the sub-antarc­tic wa­ters south of New Zealand, largely furred by scrub and rau­cous with the calls of seabirds. Mac­quarie is a bit dif­fer­ent, though. Not only is it the most re­mote (over 1,000km from In­ver­cargill), but the Aus­tralian out­post is ac­tu­ally a rogue piece of oceanic crust, squeezed out of the seabed by col­lid­ing tec­tonic plates.

Th­ese days, sea lions, fur seals and pen­guins can all be spot­ted on the is­land – a far cry from the 19th cen­tury, when the lat­ter two were hunted al­most to obliv­ion. To­day, pen­guins can even be spot­ted shel­ter­ing in the rusted boil­ers of the old pro­cess­ing plant, now given over to the wild; the only hu­man in­hab­i­tants oc­cupy re­search huts.

While bur­row­ing rab­bits and egg-eat­ing rats (brought cen­turies ago aboard ships) have taken a toll on the en­vi­ron­ment, con­ser­va­tion ef­forts and ea­gle-eyed skuas keep their num­bers down. Which means wildlife is ev­ery­where: king, rock­hop­per and gen­too pen­guins wad­dling around; beaches thick with slum­ber­ing fur seals and grumpy ele­phant seals; and seas alive with cetaceans.

GET­TING THERE: Cruises to Mac­quarie typ­i­cally de­part from In­ver­cargill or Dunedin, New Zealand, taking in other sub-antarc­tic is­lands en route to Antarc­tica; trips last from around 13 days.

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