Auckland Island, the main island in the group at 510-km², along with Adams, Disappointment, Enderby and several other smaller islands, forms part of New Zealand’s Auckland Islands National Nature Reserve.
A view of Auckland Island, photograph by Pete McClelland
Carnley Harbour, in the south of Auckland Island, photograph by Pete McClelland
Cliffs, west coast, Auckland Island, photograph by Barry Baker
The island’s coastal vegetation includes Southern Rata Metrosideros umbellata and introduced Subantarctic Tree Daisy Olearia lyallii forest. The inland habitats contain Hebe elliptica shrubland, Poa litorosa tussock grassland and fellfield along with flowering megaherbs such as the Campbell Island Daisy Pleurophyllum speciosum, Ross Lily Bulbinella rossii and Macquarie Island Cabbage Stilbocarpa polaris.
ACAP-listed species that have been reported breeding on the main Auckland Island are the Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora, (a few in the north in 1972/73) the Gibson’s subspecies of Antipodean Albatross D. antipodensis gibsoni, White-capped Albatross Thalassarche steadi (4741 (4603 - 4879) pairs estimated by aerial photography at South West Cape in 2014), Light-mantled Sooty Albatross Phoebetria palpebrata (in numbers on coastal cliffs around the island) and Northern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus (a small colony near South West Cape reported in 1972/73) No definite record of breeding by White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis has as yet been found although the species does breed on some other islands in the group.
White-capped Albatrosses, South West Cape, Auckland Island, photograph by Pete McClelland
A White-capped Albatross pair, South West Cape, Auckland Island, photograph by Barry Baker
Alien mammals that currently occur on the island are feral Domestic Pigs Sus scrofa domesticus, feral cats Felis catus and House Mice Mus musculus, the last apparently in surprisingly low densities, based on a recent trapping exercise (click here). Feral Domestic Goats Capra aegagrus hircus previously occurred but were eradicated by 1992. The pigs are known to prey upon the contents of albatross nests; recently c. 70 were shot from a helicopter as a feasibility exercise.
An Auckland Island pig, photograph by Pete McClelland
Auckland Island falls within the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands World Heritage Site inscribed in 1998 which includes five island groups (Antipodes Islands, Auckland Islands, Bounty Islands, Campbell Island and the Snares Islands). The island is also part of the proposed Auckland Islands Important Bird Area (IBA).
With thanks to Barry Baker, Pete McClelland, Kalinka Rexer-Huber and James Russell for information and photographs.
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John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 12 December 2015