Hopes pest control efforts will return Antipodes Islands, one of the wildest places on Earth, to original state

The Antipodes are rugged, lonely and one of the wildest places on Earth.

Political reporter Andrea Vance reports the remote islands are a haven to some very special species, some of them declining. Source: 1 NEWS

The seven islands are visited by only a handful of scientists and conservationists every year.

Tourists can cruise by, but they aren't allowed to land, and very few Kiwis will every set foot on this far flung corner of New Zealand.

Around 800 kilometres south of the South Island, surrounded by the vast Southern Ocean and buffeted by strong westerly winds, these islands are inhospitable for humans.

But they are home, and a haven, to some very special birds, marine mammals and insects.

Overhead, the Antipodes wandering albatross soars, with a wingspan of up to three metres.

They mate, breed and nest here on the island's grasslands, but they fly far across the ocean to Chile. 

But the population is in sharp decline and may be wiped out by 2040.

The Antipodes is known as the seabird capital of the world. Two penguin species, the eastern crested and the rock hopper penguin, also breed here, but their population has also seen sharp decline.

Twenty-five species of birds breed on these islands, including soft feathered petrels and the tame and curious Antipodes pipit. 

It's home to two types of parakeet which scavenge around the penguin colonies.

Along the rugged coastline, elephant seals haul out of the water, lounging alongside families of fur seal. 

Until recently, the islands were also home to an unwelcome resident - 200,000 mice, once brought ashore by a shipwreck in the nineteenth century have wreaked havoc on the fragile ecosystem.

A pest control operation was launched in 2016 in the hope that the islands will be returned to their original state.