Campbell Island (11,268ha) is the eroded remnants of a shield volcano and is the southern-most of the NZ Sub-Antarctic Islands. On Campbell it rains on average 325 days a year, so we were very lucky to have sunshine for extended periods on the two days we were there. Six albatross species breed here; only Crozet’s Island has more. Though these species as well as a large number of other sea birds breed on the Island, I only managed decent images of three species of albatross. To see more you would need to spend longer, or have access to more of the island.
After decades of work, it is largely free of feral animals, having become the largest island in the world on which rats have been eradicated.
Day 5. The journey south to Campbell Island was relatively smooth compared to some of our previous days. We arrived in Perseverance Harbour early in the morning. After lunch we landed at the base of the Meteorological station and with light rain falling commenced the4 km boardwalk to Col Lyell. On the way we got our see more nesting Southern Royal Albatross up close. This walk also gave us an opportunity to see the mega herbs and ground hugging plants at close range in an area not affecte by any recent grazing. At the lookout at the end of the walk there were fantastic views over the coast. Admiring the view could only be a short term thing as the cold wind was so fierce that it literally took your breath away. On returning to the landing area we were entertained by another pair of Auckland Island Teal. This was remarkable given that this was the third pair I’d seen so far of this extremely rare bird.
Day 6 A mainly sunny day just when we needed it. Today about ten of us completed a full day’s walk to North-West Bay and then returning on a northern route that skirted the mountains. The first part of the walk was rather challenging as it was very boggy and steep in places. But once we made it to the top of the saddle this was soon forgotten as the views to the North west cape were spectacular. Then as if on cue a pair of Light-mantled albatross appeared to perform their synchronised courtship flight display in the sky right in front of us.
The next part of the walk took us along the edge of the limestone cliffs before dropping down to Capstan Beach. Here we immediately came face to face with the local wildlife. There to meet us unfortunately was a delinquent Sea lion which spent the next 30 minutes harassing us. It chased us about 100 metres around the coast, only stopping when we stopped paying it any attention. This beach was a hotspot for wildlife with Sea Elephant, Sea Lions and a single sick looking Sea Leopard present. The birds seen were a cheeky NZ Pipit, a Yellow-eyed Penguin (Sonja spotted it), Light-mantled Albatross, Red-billed Gull and Brown Skua.
After having lunch and taking our photographs it was a hard slog through the scrub up the hill. I must admit I just about jumped out of my skin when suddenly a sea lion lurched at me from the undergrowth. Thankfully no one saw my panicked evasion. The amazing thing about these sea lions is they will go kilometres inland and high into the hills for seclusion. Thankfully the return trip to Perseverance Harbour though physically demanding held no more nasty surprises.
Not long after we’d reboarded our boat we weighed anchor and headed for Macquarie Island.
Next instalment Macquarie Island.