Southern Royal Albatross – Campbell Island, New Zealand 2018

Sailing north from Antarctica to New Zealand, our final port of call was Campbell Island, the second largest of New Zealand’s sub Antarctic Islands and the most southerly. Like many of these islands, it is the remnant of 6-11 million year old volcano. The birds and other native fauna and flora are thriving following eradication of introduced species like cats and rats. The island is home to the endemic Campbell Shag and Teal.

We had anchored in the shelter of Perseverance Harbour and could see the Southern Royal Albatrosses circling above the cliffs. We would soon be hiking up to Col Peak to get close to these birds. It was an effort carrying all the camera gear along and up the board walk. But what an experience it turned out to be.

Dotted around in the deep vegetation were groups of 2-5 Southern Royal Albatross. Having struggled through this vegetation I was able to set up the camera and record the antics of up to five birds. The sights and sounds will live with me for a very long time.

These birds have a wing span of 3-3.5m and weigh in at a impressive 6-10kg. They stand 1-1.2m tall. Whilst Enderby Island has a small breeding population, it is Campbell Island that has the majority of breeding pairs: perhaps up to 8600 pairs. They form life-long pair bonds and both adults incubate the eggs and feed the young.