NZ Kermadec Islands Information
Northeast of New
Zealand’s North Island, in the Pacific Ocean, sit the Kermadec Islands. There
are four main islands in the cluster, only one of which, Raoul, is inhabited.
The islands were named after French Captain Jean Michel Houn de Kermedec who
came upon the area in the 1790s. He found no inhabitants, although Polynesians
reputedly settled the area in the 14th century. Although the islands
have an actual population of 0, a permanent government meteorological station
has been in place since 1937. The islands are considered to be the furthest
reaches of New Zealand.
island arc of which the Kermadec Islands are part have no native mammals, but do
provide a home to large numbers of sea birds. European exploration introduced a
variety of mammals to the fragile environment. Due to the overgrazing of sheep
and the introduction of other European animals the subtropical forests of the
Kermedec Islands were severely damaged. The millions of birds once living on the
islands have been reduced to mere tens of thousands, as they served as prey from
imported cats and rats. Macauley Island was almost completely deforested by the
overgrazing of goats.
Since 1937, the
Kermadec Islands have been under the protection of the department of
Conservation. The extremely fragile islands are New Zealand’s largest marine
reserve. Due to the fragile nature of the environment, there is almost no
tourism on the islands. However, visits are possible. The hotel on Raoul was
built to accommodate the government workers also accommodates any volunteers
interested in environmental restoration, monitoring projects and, in general
studying nature. A permit must be attained from the department of Conservation.
The other Kermadec islands are unavailable for visiting except to those
participating in scientific study of the area.
While it is tricky
to visit the islands themselves, there are several cruises that go out to the
remote region, offering a truly unique and spectacular trip around the islands.
Travelers can either gaze at the passing islands wildlife from the decks while
listening to an informative staff, or go diving, and explore the reefs of the
Kermadec Islands from beneath the water. The tours also boast views of dolphin
and whale pods for the pleasure of their guests.
Most tours do land
on Raoul Island for a time, allowing visitors to explore the area. There are
several walks and historic landmarks of interest, and of course, stunning
scenery unlike anything else in the world.
Macauley Island, the second largest island in the Kermadecs, is home to the red
crowned Kermadec parakeet
offers clear views of the endemic bird.
visits to the islands are sure to prove unique and memorable. Although there are
not many facilities available on the islands themselves, the cruise ships
themselves range in luxury and provide many amenities as they sail around the
distinct and fragile volcanic arc. Remote at it is, there are few things
“nearby” the Kermadecs. However, one place of interest might be the Kingdom of
Tonga, known for relaxed attitude and many of the same outdoors activities
popular in all of New Zealand, including hiking, diving, kayaking and surfing.