This UNESCO World Heritage-designated sub-Antarctic island in the Southern Ocean attracts visitors to its remote shores largely for its fantastic wildlife spotting opportunities. Large rookeries of king, royal, gentoo, and rockhopper penguins impress with their sheer size, and it’s common to see huge Southern elephant seals lazing about on the beaches or play fighting in the surf. The only development on the island is a small research station with a population that fluctuates between 20 and 40 people at any given time. Most travelers visit the island as a stopover on longer cruises to the Antarctic from Australia or New Zealand.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Visitors to Macquarie Island must be escorted by a Tasmanian park ranger; this is typically arranged through cruise companies that visit the island.
- Travelers who suffer from motion sickness should reconsider visiting, as the Southern Ocean has some of the roughest seas in the world.
- Weather on the island is cold, wet, and windy, even in the summer, so be sure to dress in warm layers.
- Visitors are required to remain on designated trails and stay at least 16 feet (5 meters) from wildlife.
How to Get There
The only way to reach Macquarie Island is by boat (or by helicopter from a boat). The trip from Hobart can take three to four days, depending on sea conditions. Visitors are generally ferried ashore by smaller boats, like Zodiacs.
When to Get There
Cruise itineraries that include Macquarie Island sail mostly during summer in the Southern Hemisphere (November to March).
Visiting the Research Station While the research station on Macquarie Island isn’t meant for visitors, it’s worth a stop for the chance to get a Macquarie Island stamp in your passport or mail a postcard or letter with a Macquarie Island postmark. The research station sometimes has souvenirs, like t-shirts and magnets, for sale.
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