Campbell Island A home to birds, mammals, a few scientists and MEGAHERBS.

October 9, 2011

A visit to the sub-Antarctic islands of Australia and New Zealand: Campbell Island. February 8th 1994. 


Arriving offshore Campbell Island (52°32′24″S 169°8′42″E) and the smaller Dent Island the first thing that strikes you is how odd the plants look. It's a Lilliputian feeling that hits your visual senses with the force that can only be mustered by plants commonly referred to as megaherbs!

Campbell Island is about as far south as it gets in New Zealand territory although that honour belongs to Jacqeumart Island, another of the small islands in the Campbell Group. The area is one of five sub-antarctic island groups designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Our voyage was on a small 20 passenger or so vessel called M Y Pacific Ruby and represented one of the very first expeditions to these waters which was solely filled with birders to search for seabirds and mammals. It's a shame we didn't know earlier about the megaherb fields as we would possibly have filled the yacht more quickly.

Walking through the fields we were to witness some of the more remarkable oceanic wanderers on their natal islands and not soaring past at speed as is usual for most birders viewing these majestic birds. They included Southern Royal Albatross, Light-mantled Sooty Albatross (surely one of the most stunning of all birds), Grey-headed Albatross and the Campbell Island race of Black-browed Albatross now often placed as a species in its own right as Campbell Albatross. As well as the albatross we were treated to cormorants (called shags in NZ), petrels, shearwaters, storm-petrels and penguins.

The megaherbs cover a large portion of Campbell Islands 110 square kilometre area and included the following:

Bulbinella rossi, (Ross Lily)

Bulbinella hookeri (Maori Lily)

Pleurophyllum criniferum (Giant Button Daisy)

Pleurophyllum speciosum (Giant Button Daisy)

Anisotome latifolia (Campbell Island Carrot)

I travelled with Heritage Expeditions of Christchurch, New Zealand in 1994. See:

All images are copyright of Nick Rains, photographer on MV ORION EXPEDITIONS trip 2010.


For cruising in 2011 and 2012 click on the wildiaries link above. To load your own trip experience for free visit

My images of the megaherbs are on slides, buried deep in the bowels of the house. A quick Googling session on megaherbs will reward you with some awesome images.

Locations visited

Campbell Island



Written by

Alan McBride

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