It appears a daring operation to poison mice off the isolated Antipodes Islands has been successful.
That's great if you're one of the Antipodes Islands sea birds, whose young sometimes got eaten alive by these tiny creatures.
But since few of us visit this part of New Zealand, 860km southeast of Stewart Island, this progress has gone largely uncelebrated.
In my view, the New Zealand sub-Antarctic needs more visitors, plus a permanent scientific base.
I'm not advocating high-rise apartments on these islands, or daily cruise voyages, but with global warming now upon us it would pay to take more interest in them.
Prime Minister Bill English needs to fund our Navy, universities and Department of Conservation, to take care of business in our neglected deep south.
The Southern Ocean, surrounding our five sub-Antarctic islands, strips much of the carbon dioxide from this planet's atmosphere.
More science would shed additional light on this mysterious process, protect lucrative southern fisheries and aid vital ecology projects. More media attention and eco-tourism would be good too because where the cameras go - the money will flow.
After all, the so-called "Million Dollar Mouse Project" in the Antipodes - backed by DoC, the Morgan Foundation, WWF and public donors - only got going when the dynamic Gareth Morgan took an eco-tourist voyage there a couple of years ago.
The tricky operation involved shipping in, assembling and deploying two helicopters to make aerial poison drops on the windswept island, scene of several historic shipwrecks.
Surveys have yet to be concluded but scientists are optimistic that the tiny pests have been eliminated, allowing the beleaguered vegetation and wildlife on the island to regenerate.
It's a great outcome, but as former World War II coast watcher John Stuart Jones points out: "For many Kiwis there will still be very minor interest in Antipodes mice, or the Antipodes for that matter."
Jones, New Zealand's last South Pacific coast watcher, would love to see the public to take more interest in our sub-Antarctic islands.
Before age 22, he had already served two tours as a radio operator in remote Ranui Cove, on Auckland Island, and is well acquainted with the region's flora and fauna.
The 93-year-old Te Awamutu resident maintains an active interest in the region. He was delighted when DoC and the Navy sent in volunteers to restore his old coast watcher base at Ranui Cove in March 2015, but asks in his pragmatic way: "Really, who is ever going to see the place?"
Jones follows "sub-Antarctic politics", such as the case to eliminate pigs and cats from Auckland Island and calls to establish a permanent scientific base on Campbell Island.
"It's good to see the seeming success with the mice on Antipodes and there is no doubt
eliminating the pests from Auckland Island would just transform it," he says.
"But as for tackling the Aucklands next, with a big push from Bill English - I doubt the public generally would endorse Government spending on pig elimination during this time of real catastrophes and the political playballs of housing and poverty.
"The pursuit of private funding could be the saviour, as already exemplified at the Hebrides. There are huge pools of money seemingly in private hands and a million or two [to get rid of the pigs] would not be missed. The challenge is how to arouse interest in such an isolated region to generate the funds needed to expand work there."
Following three sub-Antarctic voyages, probably my best adventures ever, I see the same challenge. On the positive side popular TV nature programmes are revving-up public interest and therefore potentially more funding.
Our Big Blue Back Yard recently featured the sea lions breeding on Sandy Bay, on Enderby Island, in the Auckland group.
Well-made nature films seem to be on a roll; the BBC's Planet Earth II has been the most-watched natural history documentary in more than 15 years, with twice the ratings of Britain's Got Talent.
But it's a sad fact that Kiwis wanting to see this part of their own country face huge hurdles:
• Visiting involves a voyage of about 700km through normally rough seas. Only high-specced craft operate during a very brief summer season.
•The cost of a berth on an eco-tourist boat puts the experience at the high-end of cruise tourism.
• DoC which - put bluntly - guards New Zealand's sub-Antarctic region like an angry junkyard dog.
DoC bans the public from visiting most of these islands, though landing is allowed at a few "hardened sites"; mainly a few narrow little strips and boardwalks.
Even so, a landing fee must be paid by the eco-tourism operator concerned, and these range up to $500 per person.
It is as if somebody in the DoC administration would really rather keep troublesome visitors out.
The result, in my view, has been a virtual glass case thrown over this region which, for many of us, means it may as well exist on Mars or Pluto.
Perhaps that's handy when preventing the intrusion of seeds and rodents - but hopeless for generating the kind of political good will required to fund major projects.
Not everyone with sub-Antarctic experience sees DoC as an over-protective "super parent", however.
John Jones found Doc people bent over backwards to facilitate a trip he made to his old base at Ranui Cove in the 1990s.
Some people have an endless capacity to damage or destroy what they come across and need an eye kept upon them, Jones points out.
He says some coast watchers, who served at Ranui Cove before his group, vandalised a
supply depot set up in the sailing ship days to assist castaways.
To his horror, the men scattered the 19th century clothing, canned food, weapons and other items they found in the depot.
"They left most of this out in the open to rot and seemed to think it was a great joke," he says.
"But recognising that most, if not all, persons who may be visiting in a tour group would be predominantly respectful, I would see no harmful effect if unlimited visiting was allowed.
"After all, tour costs, even with a minimal DOC levy inclusion, would not be enticing to the vandal. Maybe a visitor might pick up a souvenir stone, DoC could even have a boxful ready!"
Most years maybe a couple of hundred eco-tourists land on these islands, with brief time ashore closely supervised by a DoC minder.
Defence Forces personnel and Government employees in various technical roles also visit.
This summer the Christchurch-based eco-tourist operator Heritage Expeditions will have summer voyages to Snares, Auckland and Campbell Islands (one of which will carry a TV3 film crew). Heritage and a French company will also send expeditions to Australia's MacQuarie Island, and a Dutch-based company will stop off at the Sub-Antarctic en route to and from Antarctica.
The New Zealand Navy has only just completed its November-December fisheries patrols in the Southern Ocean. It will support the DoC's maintenance efforts on Auckland and Campbell Islands in the first quarter of next year.
Ross Sea Marine Park
But in my view far more movers and shakers, media people and ordinary mum and dad Kiwis, should be encouraged to visit this part of the world.
These waters generate a huge slice of our fisheries revenue - but generally our small Navy is hardpressed to drop in on the five sub-Antarctic Islands, let alone patrol the vast economic fishing zones surrounding them. We need to fund more naval fisheries patrols.
New Zealand sub-Antarctic is also a gateway to the vast (1.5 million sq km) Ross Sea Marine Park, whose creation in October 2016 received media attention around the world, though relatively little within this country.
Arguably therefore, we should be seen to have a presence on the last landfall before entering the Ross Sea, which is Campbell Island.
The Southern Ocean also plays a vital role in retiring carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. At latitudes of the so-called "Furious Fifties", violent westerly winds interact with currents to push rivers of seawater to great depths. Thousands of years later, these waters work their way back to the surface, up-welling further south; scientists believe this process strips vast amounts of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.
New Zealand should be leading research on this process and Prime Minister English could loosen the purse strings to fund it.
Revive Beeman Base
In particular, English should reinstate the now deserted Beeman research base on Campbell Island which, until a generation ago, was permanently staffed and hummed with scientific research.
Many respected New Zealand scientists and environmentalists cut their teeth at Beeman Base.
Rodney Russ, who founded the global eco-tourism company Heritage Expeditions, worked there as a young man during the 1970s. Among many other achievements, he re-discovered the teal on Dent Island, a small and rugged island off Campbell.
Teal had long been presumed extinct. Russ and a companion captured some of birds and returned them to New Zealand, where a captive breeding programme commenced. The teal was re-introduced, and began to thrive after DoC eradicated sheep, cats and rats from the island.
Russ sees huge scope to revive Beeman as "a classroom" to study the effects of global climate change. He is supported by New Zealand fisheries scientist Martin Cawthorn, who visits the sub-Antarctic regularly.
Cawthorn revealed the by-catch threat to the New Zealand sea lion population and established the research programme on this species.
He says the Beeman Base buildings, originally powered by diesel generators, could now generate almost all its power with wind turbines, as is done at Scott Base in Antarctica.
"With the political will required, it could be reinstated to become highly productive science-wise. To me, Campbell Island's potential usefulness in this regard far exceeds that of Raoul Island, which still has a base."
Both men also see a need to complete eradication of pigs and cats from the main Auckland Island. That would result in this island becoming the kind of verdant bird-filled paradise, already to be seen on the stunning Enderby Island, where pests have been eliminated.