Three hundred and fifty miles south of New Zealand, an isolated speck in the Southern Oceans, the Auckland Islands are a wildlife refuge for thousands of birds and sealions. The islands are rich in history - shipwreck, treasure (the General Grant) and settlement attempts, (the Hardwicke Settlement, 1848 - 52). The Auckland Islands cover some 220 square miles and although there are several in the group the main island is Auckland Island, some 24 miles long and 3 to 25 miles wide. Other islands in the group: Adams Island to the South, Enderby and Rose Islands off the north east tip of the main island and Disappointment Island off the west coast. All the islands are of volcanic origin and are characterized by high precipitous cliffs with huge sea caves on the western and southern sides. The Eastern coast shows the effects of glaciation and deep fjords provide sheltered anchorages.
Since the Islands were discovered in 1806 (by Adam Bristow of the whaling firm Charles Enderby and Sons) several attempts have been made to farm and cultivate the land but the poor nature of the soil and the extreme weather conditions have made permanent settlement impossible. Perhaps the most famous of these was the Hardwicke Settlement (1848 - 1852) which was created by the South Seas Whaling and Fishing Co. 200 settlers came out from Britain in response to a glowing 'ad campaign' - needless to say the whole project was a total disaster.