Inspired by this week's story on the Chatham Islands, Eli Orzessek finds three other remote destinations for the intrepid traveller
Famously settled by the crew behind the Mutiny on the Bounty and the Tahitian men and women who accompanied them, Pitcairn is about as remote as it gets. Its closest neighbour, the Gambier Islands is 785km away, while the also isolated Easter Island is 1826km away. This isolation led 193 descendants of the original residents to leave in 1856 and settle on Norfolk Island. Those who live on Pitcairn today speak a unique language that's a mix of 18th century English and Tahitian, which is also spoken on Norfolk Island. Getting to Pitcairn is quite complicated, as there is nowhere suitable for planes or helicopters to land, so expect to spend a significant amount of time on a boat. Visitors are ferried from their vessels by longboats through Bounty Bay. Most tourists travel from the Gambier Islands to Pitcairn on the island's passenger/supply ship the MV Claymore II.
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The southernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, Bear Island is about 400km from mainland Norway and has been declared a nature reserve. Previously used for fishing, coal mining and whaling, no settlements have lasted longer than a few years and the island is now uninhabited except for staff at its metereological station. With steep coastal cliffs, aside from a couple of sandy beaches, the temperature drops to -8 degrees in the coldest month and rises to 4 degrees in its warmest. Despite its name, you won't find polar bears on Bear Island — the only indigenous land mammal is the Arctic fox. Silversea Expeditions sometimes offer cruises here — but wrap up warm.
Located about 1000km northeast of New Zealand, Raoul Island is the largest of the Kermadec Islands — the most remote area managed by the Department of Conservation. The islands are actually the visible surface of a chain of about 80 volcanos, which stretch for 2600km between New Zealand and Tonga. While you must get a special permit to visit this isolated location, Heritage Expeditions offer tours. If you visit, you'll get to see birds found nowhere else in the world, such as the red-tailed tropic bird or masked booby. The surrounding clear subtropical waters also offer some incredible diving and snorkelling opportunities. Polynesian artefacts have been found on Raoul Island, although it was uninhabited when first sighted by Western sailors. The last regular occupants evacuated in 1914 and now only DOC staff and volunteers are stationed there.